Italian culture minister Dario Franceschini said that Italy will use its presidency of the European Union to create uniform VAT rates for print and digital books.
Speaking at an event sponsored by the Italian Publishers Association (AIE) at yesterday’s Frankfurt Book Fair (8th October), Franceschini said: “Only a very bureaucratic mind could think of separating the different formats of books. Thus we are doing our very best to complete the documents of the Council of European Ministers of Culture to find a unanimous position, or at least as unanimous as possible, to equalise the VAT rate on e-books and the rate for paper books.”
The AIE also launched its campaign #unlibroèunlibro, (“a book is a book”), which it will use to engage with the public. AIE president Marco Polillo urged culture ministers across Europe to act, but he suggested that if there was no change, Italy could act unilaterally.
Polillo said: “We hope to see this [VAT] challenge endorsed by the entire Italian government . . . at the same time, we ask our government to go forward and act autonomously if Europe shouldn’t be ready to follow us”.
The AIE has also released its data for the Italian books market in 2013, which saw the market contract by 4.7% year on year. However, the digital market has grown—it is now 3% of the entire market—and more e-books were published (30,382) in 2013 than in any other year to date.