The Publishers Association has renewed its call for the government to “axe the reading tax” during a parliamentary reception and revealed which books the trade thinks MPs should be picking up.
At a summer reception on 4th June at the House of Commons Terrace Pavilion, c.e.o. Stephen Lotinga said it was time for the government to remove VAT from e-books. Although, print publications have never had VAT applied to them but paid-for digital publications, including e-books, audiobooks, journals and newspaper subscriptions, are currently taxed at 20%.
The event, organised by chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on publishing, Andrew Lewer MP, and sponsored by Springer Nature, marking Nature’s 150th anniversary, included an audience of publishing professionals and parliamentarians.
During a speech on the importance of collaboration, Lotinga said: “It has been a basic tenet of our society, upheld by successive governments, that we would not create a barrier to learning and knowledge by taxing reading. Yet VAT is still being applied to digital newspapers, magazines and books despite the EU removing the requirement from member states to maintain this tax, six months ago today.”
He added: “As an industry, we are making sure our products are inclusive, accessible and innovative, so it’s frustrating the government is yet to remove this barrier. Reading isn’t a privilege, books are not just for those in print and literacy isn’t a luxury.”
Lotinga also unveiled a reading list of books for MPs to reflect on during the summer recess, featuring Know Your Place edited by Nathan Connolly (Dead Ink), Fifteen Minutes of Power: The Uncertain Life of British Ministers by Peter Riddell (Profile), Kingdom of Lies by Kate Fazzini (Oneworld), and Kerry Hudson’s Lowborn (Vintage).
Other titles included Engines of Privilege by David Kynaston and Francis Green (Bloomsbury), The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri (Zaffre), Losing Earth by Nathaniel Rich (Macmillan), and Max Porter’s Lanny (Faber).
Lewer, whose group is in the process of publishing an inquiry into the future of the industry, also highlighted the importance of publishing on UK exports and the wider British creative industries. He said: “The success of the industry and journals like nature is historic of course but it’s relevant to society today and the prosperity we all want to enjoy in the future.”