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    Location: Aberystwyth, Wales, United Kingdom

    I am the owner and managing director of Information Automation Limited (IAL), a company that specialises in research, consultancy and training for the information profession. We are particularly interested in all forms of electronic information resources (e-journals, e-books, etc) and I teach a course in electronic publishing at the Department of Information Studies in Aberystwyth. Drilling down still further(!), my interests centre on the quality and evaluation of electronic information, and in the thinking that underpins activities in library and information science.
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    Saturday, August 04, 2007

    A tax on books: Fahrenheit 451 next?

    "If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it." Ronald Reagan
    "Any tax is a discouragement and therefore a regulation so far as it goes." Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

    Richard Charkin has reported in VAT on print that the European Commission is trying to bring the UK into line with most other EU countries and place a tax on books. He goes on to highlight an existing oddity in UK VAT:
    If it is important not to tax reading (which I support) why does the Government think that taxing on-line reading makes sense? Readers have to pay VAT on on-line subscriptions and purchases of digital downloads.
    His point is that we should remove the tax from e-books rather than place it on books... but I can't help wonder if this comes under the category of shooting oneself in the foot - faced with the choice of moving one way or the other to create a level playing field, which way do you think the government might move? I know where I'd put my money!

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