"I will no longer be performing at Borders Stores in San Diego," read the subject line in an e-mailing from local guitarist Jim Earp on Monday, April 9. "Two days ago," Earp wrote, "all artists on the Borders roster received an e-mail from the Regional Marketing Director for Borders where he states that he has been advised that the stores can no longer allow CDs to be sold directly to the audience at performances for legal (tax) reasons...."
"That was from me," says Mike Gibb, a district marketing director for Borders bookstores. "It's state law. We're required to collect tax on anything sold in our stores. And if musicians are selling directly to the audience, then we're required to collect and report tax on that, which we have no way of doing. So what musicians need to do is have a California Seller's permit [issued] through the State Board of Equalization. Then, they're responsible for it and we're not.... A couple [performers] have already downloaded the forms from the State Board of Equalization."
Earp declined to comment, but on Wednesday, April 11, he sent out another mass e-mail with this subject heading: "I'll be at Borders El Cajon this Friday night 4/13 with guitarist Rick Ruiz." Earp wrote that "After browsing the BOE site, I've concluded that -- from a standpoint of legality -- they are absolutely right!"
Gibb says there is no crackdown by the state under way and that to his knowledge neither Borders nor any other venues have been cited. "It was merely an effort on my part to make things right."