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Self-publishing News: Ending Sales Tax On Ebooks

Self-publishing News: Ending Sales Tax on Ebooks

Dan Holloway head and shoulders photo

ALLi News Editor Dan Holloway

In this week’s Self-Publishing News, ALLi News Editor Dan Holloway takes a look at the end of sales tax on ebooks in the UK and the impact of coronavirus. 

For months, years even, things tootle along for many of us. The crunch, almost overnight the world is turned upside down. I am sure everyone reading this will be affected in some way by the coronavirus in the weeks to come. I will be here to give you updates on how it affects us as a community. But I also want to send solidarity to each of you individually. The writerly world has its moments – I’ve reported on several of them. But we are a wonderful community. I am sure we will find wonderful ways to be there for each other in the months ahead.

An end to Sales Tax on UK ebooks

In any normal week, the news that the UK will finally end the addition of sales tax to ebooks would dominate the news. Of course, this is not a normal week. Nonetheless, this really is a big deal. I reported some time ago on the European Union’s legislation to allow countries to reduce sales tax on ebooks to the same level as on physical books. The UK is, of course, no longer a member of the European Union, but it has now taken this step, joining countries like Poland and Italy. It means that those of us who left our prices where they were when sales tax was introduced will see a bump in royalties.

Nonetheless, it’s not all good news. Audiobooks will not be included in this measure and will still attract sales tax.

The importance of Libraries

While book fair closures are still happening and are still important, this week’s news focuses on some of the other consequences of coronavirus. One of the general moves we are seeing (I work in higher education and we are seeing a ton of it) is the move towards doing things digitally. We’ve been leading the way at ALLi with our online conference last weekend. That will inevitably include reading. And key places through which that will happen are libraries. Here in Oxford, the Bodleian, one of the world’s great libraries, closed its doors for three months (at least). The first thing it announced – a new, enhanced way to read its treasures digitally.

But nobody was expecting MacMillan’s announcement. The big publisher at the centre of the dispute between publishers and libraries announced it was completely rolling back its terms. Libraries will be able to buy in ebooks on the same terms as they could last year.

And the giant in the field, Overdrive, is ramping up efforts to help people to read digitally as affordably as possible for all, following the examples of Mondadori in Italy and Odilo in Spain.

Amazon’s Coronavirus response 

A lot of cogs will play a part in the machinery needed to get us through the next few months. One of those larger cogs is Amazon. Amazon has announced that from now until April the 3rd, its US warehousing facilities will prioritise storing essential items. These are everything from medical supplies to the most staple of household goods. Existing stocks of other items will still be shipped to customers. But the cleared shelf space will be used for these essentials.

And Amazon has another coronavirus issue on its hands. Any crisis brings out the profiteers. We already know the stories about horrendous price gouging on essential items such as hand sanitiser. But – inevitably – the crisis has brought out all the worst kinds of “authors.” Amazon has been busy deleting “books” consisting of everything from bogus cures to nothing more than a selection of scraped articles from the internet. Indies were worried when Ingram Spark brought its new regulations on content in. In reality those rules were firmly lined up specifically at these kinds of bad actors.

What does being at home mean for you?

As writers, working from home is what many of us do all the time. So there is inevitably a feeling of “welcome to our world” in the air right now. Many indies have day jobs, and for those of us who do, this is going to mean a massive shift in our lives. For some it will be a time to change working ways permanently. Joanna Penn has a great podcast on how to do that. For others it will be really hard. For many, mental health will deteriorate (Mind has some useful advice). Whatever it means for you, stay safe. And I hope we can come together as a community even more.

Moving Events Online

We like to bring you news of forthcoming events. Sadly, at the moment, that’s not really possible. But as events move online, please tell us of exciting things that can be enjoyed anywhere. Great to see The Selfies have started the ball rolling! You can join the awards via Zoom on March 30th.

the end of sales tax on ebooks in the UK, the impact of coronavirus and top #selfpub news stories for #indieauthors, in one quick read, by #ALLi News Editor Dan Holloway @agnieszkasshoes #digitaleconomy #publishingopenup Click To Tweet

Over to You

Let us know about great online events of interest to indies in the comments below.

Upcoming Conferences and Events

To be honest, I don’t know right now! What I do want to do is fill this with great online events in the coming weeks and months.

MARCH 2020

The Selfies, 30 Mar [online, via Zoom]

Dan Holloway

Dan Holloway is a novelist, poet and spoken word artist. He is the MC of the performance arts show The New Libertines, which has appeared at festivals and fringes from Manchester to Stoke Newington. In 2010 he was the winner of the 100th episode of the international spoken prose event Literary Death Match, and earlier this year he competed at the National Poetry Slam final at the Royal Albert Hall. His latest collection, The Transparency of Sutures, is available for Kindle at http://www.amazon.co.uk/Transparency-Sutures-Dan-Holloway-ebook/dp/B01A6YAA40

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