Here’s a story that leaves me puzzled. The Bookseller reports that a survey of over 2,000 UK book buyers claimed that 70.8% of 16-24-year-olds said that learning about the ways Internet-only booksellers get around paying UK taxes makes them less likely to shop on-line. It also claimed that the vast majority of people were concerned over vanishing bookstores and thought they were nice to have around, and a majority were concerned about showrooming. See the article for the exact stats.

The thing is, these statistics don’t match up with what I would expect. I don’t know whether it’s a difference in the UK mindset versus the American (perhaps Paul can chime in on this) or what, but 16-24-year-olds are the ones I would expect to be most enthusiastic about what Amazon does with taxes, because it means they don’t have to pay them when they buy a book. Fewer taxes = cheaper book = more money left over, which is generally accounted a good thing by college-agers. I know that over here in the US, proposals to make Amazon have to collect state sales taxes have been unpopular with shoppers who didn’t want to have to pay them, and our sales taxes are a lot lower than the UK’s VATs.

And if so many people are that enamored of bookstores, why are they in so much trouble now?

Are the surveyors out of touch with reality, are the UK book buyers schizophrenic (or just giving the answers they think the surveyors want to hear), or what?


  1. I think people in the UK are more likely than people in the US to view taxpaying as a civic duty rather than ‘the government taking our monies’. And this is particularly true of young people who don’t actually have to pay any themselves!

    That said, I think saying and doing are two very different things. I’d be surprised if any of those people actually did shop online any less.

  2. Meantime, if I read one more report like that Good e-Reader piece regurgitating the Booksellers Association’s highly slanted and tailored piece of special pleading as gospel, I am going to get a return visit from my lunch.

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