For years, I have included links to Amazon on this site for books by authors I've interviewed, or titles I've added to my Movies You Might Not Know list. Whenever a reader clicked on those links and bought those items, a tiny percentage of the purchase price was kicked back to me as an Amazon Associate. It never amounted to much, maybe a few hundred bucks a year.
But no longer. Today I received an e-mail from Amazon:
We are writing from the Amazon Associates Program to
notify you that your Associates account will be closed and your Amazon Services
LLC Associates Program Operating Agreement will be terminated effective August
27, 2013. This is a direct result of the unconstitutional Missouri state tax
collection legislation passed by the state legislature and signed by Governor
Nixon on July 5, 2013, with an effective date of August 28, 2013. As a result,
we will no longer pay any advertising fees for customers referred to an Amazon
Site after August 27 nor will we accept new applications for the Associates
Program from Missouri residents.
While we oppose this unconstitutional state legislation,
we strongly support the federal Marketplace Fairness Act now pending before
Congress. Congressional legislation is the only way to create a simplified,
constitutional framework to resolve interstate sales tax issues and it would
allow us to re-open our Associates program to Missouri residents.
We thank you for being part of the Amazon Associates
Program, and look forward to re-opening our program when Congress passes the
Marketplace Fairness Act.
Internet commerce has exploded in the last decade, while state coffers have been depleted, so many legislatures have enacted laws which tax online purchases from companies that have a physical presence in the state. There's no federal levy (yet), and Amazon does not have a Missouri facility, but the new Missouri law includes an affiliate nexus clause, which institutes the tax on any purchase that flows from a link on a website whose owner is located within the state.
So, from today forward, you won't see any Amazon links on new posts on Harris Online. You'll still find them on old posts because there are thousands of them, which I don't want to go back and re-code. I assume that they'll still take you to the correct page on Amazon, but I'll no longer receive my tiny commission.
None of this is to dissuade you from doing business with Amazon. I completely understand their reasoning, and will continue to be a customer -- but no longer an affiliate.