Tag Archives | publishing

VAT on books and e-books – global survey

The International Publishers Association (IPA) and PriceWaterhouse Coopers have published the results of their latest global survey of VAT charged on books and e-books.

The research covered 51 countries, including 34 European countries (the US was not included because of the ‘complexities’ of its sales tax regime).  The report gathers current tax data and also analyses trends.

Since the last report was published, standard VAT rates around the world have been increasing and are, on average, higher in Europe than the rest of the world.  EU law also stipulates that booksellers must charge the full VAT rate for e-books while printed books are often granted discounted rates.  France and Luxembourg have reduced the rates charged on e-books and the European Commission has initiated court proceedings against them.

All of the major publishing markets in the survey (Argentina, Brazil, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the UK) provide for reduced VAT rates or exemptions, at least for printed books.

Overall, approximately 50% of countries surveyed continue to apply the standard (i.e. higher) VAT rate to e-books.  Overall, Denmark applies the highest VAT rate – 25% on both print and e-books.

The report concludes that the trend towards bringing e-books into special VAT regimes should be encouraged to create a level playing field for all publications, irrespective of the format.

The IPA further stated that the current regime in Europe discriminates against e-books and is “inconsistent, technophobic … and unfair.”

The full report can be downloaded here

Open Access and MOOCs – disrupting academia

Research set outs to explore the impact of disruptive innovations on academia and teaching.

Green and Gold models of Open Access (OA) have been growing steadily over the last decade.  An estimated 17% of articles indexed in ISI’s Web of Knowledge index are published in Gold OA journals; almost 7000 free online journals are currently listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) and it is estimated that 25% of peer reviewed research is already deposited by authors in open archives.

A new study by Richard Wellen (published in SAGE Open) sets out to explore the consequences of moves towards the ‘new digital academic commons’ in the shape of OA publishing, megajournals and Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs).


The value of knowledge is best realised when it is shared.  It is beneficial for society to create an ‘academic commons’ to facilitate the reciprocal use of knowledge.  Scholarly journals have an important role here, but high prices and other barriers to access can exclude many. The drive towards OA comes from a consensus about the importance of openness for progress and productivity.

Wellen asks whether and how OA could bring a disruptive challenge to the market power of publishers and to what extent new academic platforms and other intermediaries will take on such roles as quality control, filtering and content discovery.


  • Stakeholders have embraced OA as a solution to ‘dysfunctional’ publishing models and as a way to maximise the impact of research
  • Open content and ‘academic unbundling’ look set to transform the economics and social structure of higher education and research communication
  • Megajournals, academic networking services and MOOCs are all linked to a market-oriented reform of academic governance
  • An emerging ‘gift’ economy in academic content is linked to new ways of commodifying academic services
  • Researchers still place a high value on journal prestige
  • Some library functions may move to independent services operating at a trans-institutional level
  • Despite being open, MOOCs are meant to earn revenue
  • MOOCs have become marketing tools for universities
  • Politicians want to address cost, access and productivity issues in HE e.g. by loosening the link between teaching and research ranking
  • Academic unbundling raises challenges for the governance of academic commons

You can access the full article Open Access, Megajournals, and MOOCs: On the Political Economy of Academic Unbundling here.

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Google Books revised settlement – French, German and other non-English books excluded

Searcher’s Barbara Quint gives the lowdown on the revised Google Books Settlement, which once finalised will enable Google to make available millions of out-of-print books in the US.

The international scope of the agreement has been reduced, although books published in Canada, the UK or Australia – countries which share legal frameworks and book industry practices  – are still covered. Dan Clancy, engineering director for Google Book Search, confirms that foreign works will continue to be added to the Google Books collection, and although “users will not have access to the full text or to the extended Preview mode for the bulk of foreign in-copyright works, they will still be able to search them, identify relevant items, and read the snippets.”