Ebooks, VAT and all that

A new directive came into force on 1 January 2015, which requires all sales of digital products to be charged VAT at the buyer’s rate. This includes ebooks. This means Whippleshield Books now has to determine the country of origin of a buyer, collect at least three items of identifying data, determine the the Value Added Tax rate in the buyer’s country, add it to the price… and then submit a VAT receipt to the UK HM Revenue and Customs Mini One Stop Shop (VATMOSS). Obviously, this is a complete faff – if not actually impossible to implement. As a result, I’ve removed the EPUB and MOBI editions from the Whippleshield Books online shop. Ebook editions are still available on Amazon, however, since their platform handles all the VAT calculations for ebook publishers.

There is no real solution other than registering for VAT, keeping track of VAT rates in countries around the world, adjusting prices accordingly, and submitting a receipt to VATMOSS every time. I’m a writer, not a bloody tax accountant. So I’m not going to do this. I think, however, that I have come up with a work-around…

Vennesla Library, Norway

Vennesla Library, Norway

Instead of selling EPUB and MOBI editions of the three books of the Apollo Quartet so far published, I will instead sell three chapbooks. On the last page of each chapbook there will be an alphanumeric code. All you have to do is buy a chapbook, then email the code to Whippleshield Books, and that will entitle you to a free download of the Apollo Quartet ebook in the format of your choice. Since the “digital”product” is not for sale, no VAT will be charged.

It may well be that my solution is considered a little bit naughty. But given the low numbers of sales for ebook editions of the Apollo Quartet through the Whippleshield Books online store, I don’t think any bad will happen.

For the time-being, ebooks will remain unavailable until I’ve written a chapbook suitable for each of Adrift on the Sea of Rains, The Eye With Which The Universe Beholds Itself and Then Will The Great Ocean Wash Deep Above. New paperback editions of all three books will also be made available later this month.

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