Monday, April 16, 2012

More Tax Shenanigans, Courtesy of & Other News from the Book World

Book News Courtesy of Sheppard's Newsletter No. 255, 256 & 257

UK: Amazon paid no Corporation Tax, Britain's biggest online retailer, generated sales of more than £3.3bn in the country last year but paid no corporation tax on any of the profits from that income - and is under investigation by the UK tax authorities. Regulatory filings by parent company with the US securities and exchange commission (SEC) show the tax inquiry into the UK operation, which sells nearly one in four books sold in Britain, focuses on a period when ownership of the British business was transferred to a Luxembourg company. Read more

USA: States fight back against's tax deals

So runs the headline in the Seattle Times. Months ago, SC reported on the issue of Amazon's reluctance to collect state taxes. Amazon now supports the idea so long as the rules apply to other websites., the world's largest Internet retailer, currently collects sales taxes from customers in just five states, including Washington, giving it a price advantage of up to 10 per cent. But the days of tax-free Internet shopping appear to be coming to an end, something that Amazon itself has conceded in recent months.
  States have lost more than $52 billion during the past six years due to untaxed Internet purchases, according to a University of Tennessee study. Facing massive budget deficits that threaten further cuts to schools and social services, an ever-growing chorus of lawmakers has called for an end to the sales-tax edge long enjoyed by Internet retailers. Read more

[We would like to hear from US based dealers on this issue.  Has the present state adversely affected book sales?  Ed.] - write to Sheppard's Confidential for more details.

UK: Postal costs hike
The impending increase on postal costs has been trailed for some time with businesses receiving several letters from Royal Mail. However the size of the increase is substantial. First-class stamp prices will increase from 46p to 60p and second class from 36p to 50p from April 30. And costs of nearly all other services will also be increased. Read more 
[One of the benefits of membership of the Federation of Small Businesses is access to their Print and Mail Service which offers substantial reductions in sending out basic correspondence. Read more.  Ed.]

International: An e-book myth?
Ask a friend with a tablet (iPad or Fire) to show you her bookshelf. More and more, you'll see nothing. Emptiness. One of the very real truths of our culture is being hidden in the dramatic shift from paper to e-book - lots of people are moving from paper to 'no e-book'. For now, this is being concealed...Read more
[Sales figures for e-pubs continue to grow but how many are actually reading them? And you can't 'show off' e-pubs as you can with printed books on shelves. Ed.]

UK: Bibliophile celebrate
Everyone who creates a catalogue will know how much time and effort is required to produce one. Bibliophile has just published their 300th catalogue - and it's taken 34 years. Each 40 page catalogue contains some 300 brand new books and over 1,000 titles.
  At a time when many predict the death of the physical book and the bookshop and even the public library is under constant threat of closure, Bibliophile Books continues to prosper and go about its business as the UK booklover's greatest secret. In 2011 it was granted a Royal Warrant by the Duke of Edinburgh in recognition of quality, service, excellence and selling to the palace for some 20 years. Over the years the company has handled tens of thousands of now rare and valuable books which will never be printed again. Read more

International: Can e-book sales help the market for hardbacks?
Danuta Kean, a publishing analyst, suggests that the growth of e-book sales may, indirectly, be helping the hardback market to survive. Many have suggested that hardback sales would wither because of its comparative high cover price. Current statistics suggest otherwise.
  The market for hardbacks was predicted to be the chief victim in the bloodbath following the rapid rise of digital books, but data from Nielsen BookScan, which monitors sales in eight book markets worldwide, shows second publication paperbacks are under more threat from e-readers. Data shows a decline in print sales across all mature markets of between 1.7% and 14.8%, the percentage decline in hardback sales is lower than that of paperbacks, 8.5% compared to 11.7%. One consequence of this trend is that publishers are reassessing their strategy towards a format declared dead only a year ago which augers well for the long term future for our side of the trade. Read more

International: Facebook lays claim to the term 'Book'
Recently, we have reported several examples of pan-national companies exerting rights that adversely affect the smaller traders. This week Facebook announced in their new 'User Agreement':
  'You will not use our copyrights or trademarks (including Facebook, the Facebook and F Logos, FB, Face, Poke, Book and Wall), or any confusingly similar marks, except as expressly permitted by our Brand Usage Guidelines or with our prior written permission.'
  But the company has yet to attempt to have the term registered as a trademark. This may prove to be more difficult to achieve. Readers who have the word 'book' in their business name ought to read more.

USA: Do Amazon's practices pose a threat? 
In an editorial this week Bryce Milligan of Wings Press expresses his views about Amazon's largesse and what the company's strategy might mean to the world of publishing. Milligan's company is a member of The Independent Publishers Group whose member companies' e-books have been removed from Amazon's website. Read more

UK: Printed books still first choice
While the majority of the U.K.'s undergraduate students are now using e-books, none are yet relying on them as a primary source of information. Print continues its hold as a key resource for at least two-thirds of students. That's one of the key findings of a major new study that explores student information sources in the digital world from the book research experts at BML, a Bowker business. The study was conducted in December 2011 and shows significant change since 2003 when BML conducted similar research. Read more

New Zealand: Christchurch Library - the clear-up begins a year later
The recovery of 300,000 books stranded in Christchurch's biggest library for more than a year after a major earthquake will begin next week. The books have been lying on the floor of the red-zone building, without heating or air conditioning, since the February 2011 quake, but library bosses say there has been no wholesale damage to the collection. Christchurch City Council libraries and information manager Carolyn Robertson said staff had been working on a book-rescue plan for months. Read more and see images

France: A tax on major booksellers to help smaller businesses
France has developed something of a reputation for trying to tax larger companies on the Internet in order to use the funds to help out smaller players. The latest development in that scheme: a proposal to tax large booksellers to help French independent bookstores impacted by the rise of online giants like Amazon. Read more

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