The recent announcement by the South African finance ministry that has made it mandatory for all foreign vendors selling ebooks in the country to register as VAT vendors has been applauded by the local industry. The Publishers’ Association of South Africa as well as the South African Booksellers’ Association has been pushing for just a clause which them claim will make it a level playing field for all operators. Earlier,
“South Africa has now created a legislative framework which will require foreign retailers selling into South Africa to register as VAT vendors. Simply put it means that companies that have distribution rights in South Africa can compete fairly with foreign retailers selling directly. In the long-term it will do much to promote a healthy retail book trade, making it more likely that we retain a functioning publishing industry,” explained Eugene Ashton, sales director of Jonathan Ball Publishers.
Ashton further stated the new legislation will prove crucial in the long run once proceeds from digital sales in South Africa picks up. Currently, revenue from digital sales amount to about 20 percent in SA while the same in other more established markets stands at over 50 percent.
“While PASA’s long term stated objective is that VAT should not be levied on books, it is better to have a system where everyone is charged, than the one that has existed until now. We are very much in favour of the legislation and support it fully,” said Ashton.
Digital technologies has been making new inroads in the field of books and publishing in SA, something that has not gone unnoticed with those who matter. While the general public has become increasingly aware of ebooks and all the benefits that the digital books can have for them, digital publishing technologies too has come to the forefront in recent times.
No wonder, ebooks and digital publishing is being accorded special status during the South African book fair, something brought out in the words of Louise Barry-Taylor, executive of sales and sponsorship of the fair: “With the rapid growth of e-publishing, the Fair allows educators, the public and the publishing world access to the latest technological developments in e-reading. Technology now not only allows access to books at the touch of a button, but access to a wide array of both learning and recreational materials that are now easily available on your mobile phone. The Fair is the ideal place for even the most technologically challenged to familiarise themselves with the latest technological and e-publishing offerings”.
The South African book fair will run from 13 -15 June 2014 in Cape Town