Tuesday, February 7, 2012


Hello readers let me say straight away this is my opinion and doesn't necessarily reflect the views of the owners.

The French government's - like every government's - attitude to books is a bit mixed, they support a fixed price which is a good thing but apply VAT to them which is a bad thing and insult to injury are looking to increase the rate!

I think VAT should be applied to nonessential items or products which need to be used responsibly such as fuel and alcohol.
VAT shouldn't be applied to books or magazines because we need to engage the citizens in ideas and culture and we need to maintain levels of literacy.
(The shocking rate of dubbing in France means your average Jean-Paul and Marie-Jeane is never asked to confront a subtitle on your TV or at provincial cinemas, despite what this means for the integrity of the original drama, ironic given assumed French attitudes to art!
Standards of literacy would be greatly enhanced if you treated imported films and television programs as they deserve.
Absolutely dubbing should be restricted to kiddies entertainment only and has no place in the adult world!)

One can argue modest levels of VAT aren't much of a barrier to citizens buying books and magazines but there shouldn't be any in the opinion of many of the brightest and best.

I appreciate we need to boost the country's coffers, what with minister's wives  and other financial wiz kids assisting the super wealthy to dodge taxes and move huge sums of dosh to delightful Switzerland, while the Prez hires his tax exile rock star mates to earn wee fortunes playing publicly funded events and also because our bureaucracy is bloated and our public sector workers want to retire while their kids are still at school, so they can play boules or meet former colleagues at the local tabac.

Well there is a way to fund all this and regain that triple A rating - and maybe even get an unpresidented fourth, just start fining every one who leaves crap in the street.
Our cities are beautiful and yet we tolerate a quantity of fecal matter the size of Belgium to swamp them day in day out!

( I recognize that some of the filth in your streets aren't the leavings of selfish, idle pet owners and I wish some of the charities could give the homeless a means to cope with their waste issues, because as things are everyone's dignity is being compromised.)

Perhaps if we were to write to our mayors demanding tough fiscal punishment for those befouling the streets and public spaces of the country immediately and then
lobby our representative in the Assembly requesting the State repeal VAT on publications and make law tough measures to stop the tide of crap covering our cities, we might get somewhere on these issues?

Oh and those who thinks the fixed pricing on books is a bad thing need only look at what happened to the book business in the UK when they dropped the Net Book Agreement, which controlled pricing and discounting in its book business.
These days in the UK businesses other than traditional book sellers, super markets and internet sellers, enjoy the lions share of sales because they demand huge discounts from the publishers, who fear that without these outlets their sales will be greatly diminished; and so they offer a rate to them which allows them to undercut traditional sellers.
Consumers thinking short term buy books from these outlets because they are cheaper without reflecting on the effect on the industry as a whole or the long term effect their actions will have.
Those effects are proving to be radically reduced numbers of book shops, including bankrupted major chains, increased initial retail prices to support the enormous discount the publisher will offer the super non traditional sellers, and a dumbing down of editors lists, as they release crowd pleasing pap for the super market consumers, while cutting back on important works with limited appeal because their funds simply can't be balanced between the needs of art and profit.
What is true of the UK's book industry is also the story of book selling in the USA.
Would any of us want what has happened to CD sales - diminished production of reduced selections and fewer sales outlets - to happen to books and magazines, even if the profiteering of the music industry before the new technologies was inexcusable?

If you think my place is selling books and I should stick to writing about this, I can respect your opinion yet think your view of what it is to be a tax paying citizen in a democracy is as limited as BHL's fashion sense but if that is your stance then let me just say this to you, " buy books now before the new VAT rate is applied in April!!"

Thank you for reading, Nick.

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