European book trade figures have met with the president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, to discuss issues including Amazon's dominance of the book market and VAT on e-books.
Following a meeting between Juncker and members of the European and International Booksellers Federation (EIBF) yesterday (4th April), Tim Godfray, c.e.o. of the Bookseller's Association, said he "heard with pleasure that president Juncker would encourage his fellow commissioner in charge of competition not only to look at the e-book market but also at the physical book sector in the complaint lodged by the BA against Amazon".
Last October, The Bookseller reported that the EC was assessing a complaint lodged by the BA to investigate Amazon's dominance in the physical book market alongside its investigations into the company's activity in the e-book sector. However, it is not yet clear whether the EC will launch an investigation into the e-commerce giant’s print book business as well.
Juncker also relayed to the delegates that the issue of reduced VAT on e-books was “progressing positively”, as Juncker himself has “always considered that paper and e-books should carry similar VAT rates”.
Currently, e-books attract the standard VAT rate of 20% while physical books are charged 0% VAT in the UK.
Last week, The Bookseller reported that the EC has plans to release an ‘Action Plan’ on VAT which will include plans to allow countries to lower the VAT on e-books.
Juncker also expressed his support of copyright and understanding that free e-lending by public libraries could "harm physical bookshops and libraries".
Alongside Godfray, the EIBF delegation comprised of the EIBF co-presidents, Fabian Paagman and Jean-Luc Treutenaere; Fernand Ernster, former president of the fédération luxembourgeoise des libraires; and the director of the EIBF, Françoise Dubruille.
Paagman and Treutenaere said: “It is heart-warming to hear that the president of the EC, like the president of European Parliament, Martin Schulz – whom we met last year – are both strong supporters of the book sector, and both understand the value that the book community and booksellers in particular bring to society.”