Looking beyond the Sedona Book Festival

Joe Neri

Joe Neri

The inaugural Sedona Book Festival, held earlier this month, was a success, if I do say so myself.

Our objective was to have a great, small festival and, thanks to all the participants, volunteers, partners and sponsors, I believe that we met that objective.

Approximately 1,500 people stopped by during the day, entertained and educated by over 100 authors, publishers, organizations, musicians and others. All in all, it was a good day.

Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, and many people are already asking about next year's festival. Yes, we are hoping to have the second annual festival during the first weekend of October 2010, but there are a couple of important issues to address before we get there.

The first issue is financial. Our objective for this first festival was to break even financially. Although we have not completed our final accounting as of this writing, I believe we will meet this objective. This is very important, as the financial risk for the festival was entirely on The Well Red Coyote and Verde Valley Caregivers.

And that brings me to the second and equally important issue - support.

If it is expected that we assume all of the financial risk, and I have no problem with that, if the festival is something Sedona has needed for a long time, if we are making a contribution to the cultural diversity of Sedona, if The Well Red Coyote has become and the Sedona Book Festival will hopefully be a community asset, then your support, each and every one of you that reads books, is not only necessary, it is required.

And by that I mean, buy a book - locally. Buy from The Well Red Coyote, but also support Golden Word Books & Music and The Worm Book & Music Store. Most of the authors at the festival have their books for sale in one or more of Sedona's book stores.

We support the City of Sedona, not only through our inventory of books, our author events and, of course, the book festival, but also by the sales tax revenue we generate for local use to run our government and city services.

Amazon does not pay any sales tax to Sedona, to Arizona or to any other entity. Amazon has 600,000 square feet of warehouse space in Phoenix, yet pays no sales taxes on the literally billions of sales dollars that facility generates. It is estimated that Arizona is losing upwards of $250 million dollars of sales tax revenue on this internet commerce.

The Well Red Coyote occupies 2,100 square feet in West Sedona and pays 3 percent of its sales revenues to the City of Sedona and 6.35 percent to Yavapai County.

And it's not just about books - less than 50 percent of Amazon's revenue comes from books. It is selling electronics, household goods, clothing, shoes and more - all without paying any sales tax.

So what, you say? Why shouldn't you get the cheapest price for a book, and not have to pay sales tax to boot?

Well, you can if you want to. You have choices. We don't take your business for granted - we have to earn it. And I believe we have.

Just remember, aside from the sales tax issue, aside from the other dubious Amazon business practices detailed in previous columns here, Amazon has never sponsored nor will it ever sponsor a book festival. Amazon has never hosted nor will it ever host an author book launch, book signing or writing workshop.

Support and community are two-way streets. Please support us - all of our local, independent businesses - if you want us to be here next year and beyond. And that goes for the second annual Sedona Book Festival, too.

Joe Neri is the co-owner of The Well Red Coyote bookstore in Sedona. He can be contacted at (928) 282-2284 or books@wellredcoyote.com.

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