Godfray: BA 'to defend zero VAT in 2014'

Godfray: BA 'to defend zero VAT in 2014'

Booksellers Association c.e.o. Tim Godfray has said that the organisation will be fighting to make sure VAT remains at zero on printed books in the UK and Ireland during the course of next year.

In a Christmas letter sent to booksellers, Godfray cited the issue as one at the top of his agenda, saying that VAT on printed books was “under pressure” from the European Commission. “We have to ensure that nothing is done to change the current VAT arrangements for printed books in the UK and Ireland in 2014,” he said.

Godfray also said that the issue of e-book lending could become a big threat to booksellers and is also a critical issue to tackle next year. “The wrong financial model could seriously affect our sector," Godfray said. "So too could inappropriate changes to copyright legislation.  What we don’t want to see happening is libraries becoming a retail channel, using taxpayers’ money to compete unfairly against the private sector.”

Among the other hot industry issues on the BA's agenda in 2014 is developing a new model for business rates that is “fit for purpose”, plus encouraging the whole industry to be more vocal on copyright. “This is the cornerstone of our industry,” Godfray said. “If copyright is weakened, fewer sales will ensue, adversely affecting authors, publishers and booksellers. Piracy is a big issue, but so too are those who believe that consumers have a right to intellectual property without paying for it.”

Overall, booksellers experienced a “really tough year” in 2013 but reports of Christmas trading are so far “encouraging”, Godfray said. He also praised publishers for showing better support for independent booksellers in 2013. “Consumer confidence seems to be higher and the economy is definitely stronger than it was a year ago. So fingers crossed,” he concluded.