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Old 09-23-2010, 07:58 PM   #1
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French book shops (and other European book stores)

Discounted E-Books Spark Outcry From French Shops

I always thought that the high cost of European books was due to Vats.

"For 30 years, Thierry Meaudre's family bookshop has been protected from competition from big retailers, thanks to a law that bars heavy discounting on books"

"While independent bookstores and small publishers in the U.S. are left to the mercy of market forces, those in much of Europe are protected"

What other things are "protected" in Europe?

Buggy whips? Slide rules? Whale bone corsets? Laudanum bottlers?

And while the shop owners are protected, what about the public? They have to pay higher book prices in addition to the Vats.

What business owner wouldn't want to be protected from competition?

Ahhh. I found the reason;
"Hachette Livre, France's biggest publisher, supports Mr. Legendre's proposed law. Publishers like to have control of the pricing of their books "
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Old 09-24-2010, 04:14 AM   #2
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It's a long standing law here in France that books cannot be discounted by more than 5%. Amazon kind of gets around this by offering free shipping on book purchases - and this often makes the price competitive with the more deeply discounted UK site when you take the shipping costs into account. I've also noticed that amazon.fr carries older (sometimes out of print) books in their English books section. I suspect they get the remainders from the US and UK operations. (Great for finding manuals for a prior version of some software program!)

There's also the factor that in much of Europe books are subject to a lower VAT rate (it's only 5.5% in France vs. 19.6% on most other stuff). A holdover from the days when the government controlled all forms of communication - from newspapers to telephone, telegraph and the post office. However, e-books are taxed as "electronic files" or some such nonsense and so are subject to the full VAT rate.
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Old 09-24-2010, 09:06 AM   #3
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In general, I would rather have VAT than the crocked tax laws here in the US.

But it sounds like the VAT in Europe may also be "customized" to suit certain interests.

It seems to me that the higher cost of books, in toto, would lower the number of books sold. And therefore inhibit a healthy growth of authors.

Do you have a large number of independent/self published authors in France and Europe?
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Old 09-24-2010, 09:17 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by bevdeforges View Post
It's a long standing law here in France that books cannot be discounted by more than 5%.
There's, unfortunately, many countries in Europe that have similar rules. For them moment, eBooks seem to be excepted from those rules, but as a consequence fall in the higher VAT bracket.
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Old 09-24-2010, 03:07 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by bevdeforges View Post
There's also the factor that in much of Europe books are subject to a lower VAT rate (it's only 5.5% in France vs. 19.6% on most other stuff). A holdover from the days when the government controlled all forms of communication - from newspapers to telephone, telegraph and the post office. However, e-books are taxed as "electronic files" or some such nonsense and so are subject to the full VAT rate.
Which may explain why ebooks arent as popular in Europe compared to other parts of the world. Paying around 14% more in VAT may not compare well with printed book prices.
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Old 09-24-2010, 03:30 PM   #6
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But it sounds like the VAT in Europe may also be "customized" to suit certain interests.
And which tax isn't? The VAT is actually designed to incentivise the operation of big business and subsidise exporters. So, no joy for the indies here.
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Old 09-25-2010, 06:03 AM   #7
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Which may explain why ebooks arent as popular in Europe compared to other parts of the world. Paying around 14% more in VAT may not compare well with printed book prices.
eBook downloads are regarded as "commerce" rather than a "sale" and, as such, are subject to the full rate of VAT in each member state. The rule was originally brought in to ensure that VAT was paid on music downloads; eBooks just got caught up in it.
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Old 09-25-2010, 12:41 PM   #8
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Still, the European public losses.

Does that also apply to text books?

And what about required reading for class. Shakespeare, Dickens, Austen, or Steinbeck?
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Old 09-25-2010, 12:44 PM   #9
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Still, the European public losses.

Does that also apply to text books?

And what about required reading for class. Shakespeare, Dickens, Austen, or Steinbeck?
Paper books are generally subject to a lower rate of VAT (in the UK, for example, that rate is zero), but all eBooks, regardless of their content, are subject to the full VAT rate of that member state.

Of course in the case of classics, such as the ones you mention, eBooks can be downloaded free.
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Old 09-25-2010, 12:45 PM   #10
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Still, the European public losses.

Does that also apply to text books?

And what about required reading for class. Shakespeare, Dickens, Austen, or Steinbeck?
If they're electronic, they get taxed with VAT all the same.
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Old 09-25-2010, 12:48 PM   #11
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If they're electronic, they get taxed with VAT all the same.
But of course if they are free, then the VAT is zero, so they remain free.
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Old 09-25-2010, 01:50 PM   #12
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Thanks.
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Old 09-25-2010, 02:28 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by SameOldStory View Post
In general, I would rather have VAT than the crocked tax laws here in the US.

But it sounds like the VAT in Europe may also be "customized" to suit certain interests.

It seems to me that the higher cost of books, in toto, would lower the number of books sold. And therefore inhibit a healthy growth of authors.

Do you have a large number of independent/self published authors in France and Europe?
There is absolutely NOTHING crooked about US tax laws. They make it quite clear their purpose is to steal from the productive and give to the unproductive. What could possibly be more honest?

Derek
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Old 09-25-2010, 02:58 PM   #14
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Better watch out. The politicians don't like being called unproductive.
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