Monday, 6 February 2012

A Luxury Tax on Knowledge?

Since the invention of the printed word, books, newspapers and periodical publications have become our quintessential source of knowledge, entertainment and communication. Due to this information revolution, civilisation raced along an evolutionary super-highway. It became therefore universally accepted that books are an unequivocal essential and should be freely accessible to everyone. And as such, exempt from VAT.

This established, the printed word is gradually being shuffled into retirement by its youthful electronic usurper; the internet. Of course, we die-hard paper lovers will resist it as long as we can, but the ecological and financial stresses of paper books will eventually tempt - or force - us into the electronic library if we wish to sate our hunger for the written word.

I have strayed and bought a Kindle; I have to say it grew on me very quickly. The benefits of the microchip are obvious, especially when you consider just how many volumes these little gadgets can store. And who of us doesn’t have an electronic gadget of one form or another? You cannot function - or legally exist - unless you have numerous electronic tags and gadgets attached to your name.

In which case, I’ll dare to hypothesise that within another decade or so, printed books will be prohibitively expensive, outside of an occasional purchase.We will do the majority of our reading via electronic devices.

All electronic books - no matter what their literary value or purpose - are subject to the full rate of 20% VAT.

Ergo, books are destined to be downgraded to ‘non-essential luxuries’ for the masses.

Here’s a little quote that settles quite comfortably into context, ‘All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.

No matter what specious voodoo mumbo is used to explain the purpose of VAT; it was originally levied as a luxury tax, which is exactly the reason why it was NOT levied on books. If we allow this stealth tax to pass quietly by as the e-book revolution rages, we will lose another of our basic civil rights to Napoleon and his comrades.

There is a tiny prick of light at the end of the tunnel; I found this proposal regarding the removal of VAT from e-books on a Parliament data search - ‘Early Day Motions’.
                                                (As an aside, I really think they should come up with another handle. Given the copious excrement we’ve come to expect from politicians, I’m itching to make a cheap joke!)

What do you think?


  1. This tax brings to mind Ray Bradbury's book Farenheight 451. Though a less violent way of getting books off the shelf it ,none the less, is bent on pricing them off and thereby forcing us to use the computer. Thus controlling and monitoring what we read.

  2. Interesting post. So what do you feel about free ebooks? IS that good or bad? I think bad... on not because the VATman goes hungry either.

    I found you Goodreads, by the way, if you are wondering how I dropped in. I am also a blogger and you can visit me with a returned comment at:

    My blog is written by Seth and Erin, the main protagonists in my novel Cursed. They write about everything from life before birth, to life after death, including all the fascinating bits in between. Drop in with us and you'll see posts on love, curses, magic, angels, demons, ghosts and much, much more.
    Look forward to knowing you better.


  3. Hi Gwynneth, free e-books? I do limited giveaways with my e-books as a promotion and review tool. I think big giveaways on Amazon are not good practise - I think it devalues the book before it's even read. Discounts as incentives, yes, but make them limited.

    Great way to blog, using your characters - I shall drop in for a looksee!