Much ink was spilled in the weeks and months leading up to the new EU VAT laws taking affect (yesterday) and now it appears that the impact is less than expected.
The Bookseller reported that there was little change in the prices as retailers started to collect the 20% VAT required for ebooks sold to UK consumers (up from Luxembourg 3% rate charged before):
A survey of 168 e-books taken across-genres and from frontlist, mid-list and backlist and ranging from large to independent publishers (including those on agency), Amazon-published and self-published authors has found little change in prices from 23rd December to 2nd January.
Of the 17 traditionally published e-books available on Amazon.co.uk only two went up in price - You Are Here by Chris Hadfield (Macmillan), which rose from £6.29 to £6.64 and The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan (Vintage), which rose from £5.99 to £6.29. Among the smaller publishers, of the 12 titles recorded, just two rose in price; The Gods of Olympus: A History (Profile) and The Swimmer by Joakim Zander (Head of Zeus).
It is impossible to say whether the prices rises are down to natural fluctuations in pricing, or because of the VAT increase: of the Amazon published books recorded, all of them increased in price but as a result of them leaving a £1 promotion. Of the KDP titles measured, only one increased in cost, Creating Money, Creating Meaning, by Orna Ross (Font Publications), which went up from £4.02 to £4.68. On the KDP community forums some writers did report on price rises impacting their backlist titles, but others reported no movement, suggesting that Amazon was staggering the changes.
The pattern was the same across other retailer websites. Of the 40 titles recorded on Kobo, just four saw price increases, including current bestsellers There's Something I've Been Dying to Tell You by Lynda Bellingham, Hodder, (up from £6.49 to £8.99), and Girl Online by Zoe Sugg, Penguin (up from £4.99 to £6.49).
I'm not surprised that it was difficult to detect a change. Any market as complex as the ebook market is going to fluctuate to such a degree that it is difficult to say why a price was up or down.
For all we know prices might have been incrementally increasing over the past few weeks in anticipation of the increase in VAT collected after 31 December. Also, that report that Amazon has not adjusted all ebook prices (as they said they would weeks ago) to reflect the increase in VAT collected might be a sign of the snafu reported yesterday.
SelfPublisherBibel posted yesterday that the German KDP portal was down. I was unable to confirm that detail elsewhere, but the current state of prices for KDP ebooks suggests that Amazon is adjusting the prices in stages.
Or perhaps Amazon is simply not adjusting the prices of ebooks where an author has already changed the price. It's too early to say for sure.
image by clementchene