The UK Government has brought forward plans to scrap the 20 percent tax on eBooks from online stores due to the coronavirus pandemic as millions of people stay at home to stop the spread of COVID-19. There is no VAT on physical paperbacks or hardcover books when publishers sell books to readers, however, eBooks and digital newspaper subscriptions carried a 20 percent tax.
So, eBooks that cost £12 yesterday will now cost £10. Veracious readers who have been racing through novels or non-fiction books during lockdown could save a small fortune next time they stock up on books to pass the time while at home.
Announcing the changes, which were originally scheduled to be rolled out December 1, 2020, Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak said he hoped the drop in VAT would make it “as easy as possible for people across the UK to get hold of the books they want while they are staying at home and saving lives. That is why we have fast-tracked plans to scrap VAT on all e-publications, which will make it cheaper for publishers to sell their books, magazines and newspapers.”
Amazon, which has one of the largest eBook libraries in the UK right now, has confirmed that it’s already dropping the price of a huge number of eBooks and will be working hard to update all of its pricing to comply with the surprise UK Government change. Amazon says it’s working “as fast as possible to lower prices”, so maybe hold off on clicking the Buy button until later in the week if you’re not desperate to start reading today.
In a statement to the BBC, a spokesperson for Amazon said: “We welcome the government’s decision to remove VAT on e-books due to the current situation, which will benefit readers, authors and publishers. For titles where Amazon sets the price, we will reduce the prices of books not already on promotion.”
Amazon sells some of the best eReader hardware on the market. It’s entry-level Kindle, which has a backlit touchscreen and weeks of battery life, is on-sale from £69.99.
Unlike the colourful, high-resolution displays on iPads and smartphones, the e-ink technology used on the Kindle isn’t reflective – even in direct sunlight. It also looks uncannily like a printed page – expect that you’re able to buy books on-the-move and take thousands of titles with you on every journey.
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Kindle Paperwhite, which is waterproof for bath-time reading, is on-sale for £119.99. Amazon also allows customers to buy the device with five monthly instalments of £24 – if you’d rather not cough-up the full price upfront.
Unfortunately, the drop in VAT doesn’t apply to audiobooks, like Amazon-owned Audible, which the Royal National Institute of Blind People said was “disappointing”. As well as eBooks, digital newspaper subscriptions could drop by up to £25 a year.
However, this is down to the digital publisher behind the subscription, with some prominent newspapers already confirming they will not be altering the price – despite the drop in tax.
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