Diane Duane’s e-book store is running a 50% off sale for Black Friday/Cyber Monday. All e-books in the store are half-off, no discount code required. But as Duane explains in a blog post, this could very well be her last Cyber Monday sale, because of the new VAT MOSS regulations coming into effect as of the New Year.

As Duane points out via a quote from a Huffington Post article on the matter, the new regulation—and its removal of the minimum threshold at which UK businesses need to worry about VAT—is going to hit many UK small businesses particularly hard. Especially vulnerable are the small startups being run by stay-at-home parents as a way to contribute to the family pocketbook. Not only does the vast amount of recordkeeping required pose an incredible expense to small businesses that might be only pulling down a few quid a month in their early stages, the record-keeping requirements for purchases made while traveling are a self-contradictory mess.

Duane writes that she and her husband Peter Morwood are going to have to take a long hard look at the regulations and figure out if they should simply stop selling into the UK and EU countries, or whether they can even continue running their e-book store at all. So, this is an excellent time to buy e-books from their store—not only because 50% off is a great deal.

But also — depending on the answers we get from our accountants and so forth — after January 1, you may not be able to buy ebooks directly from us any more. Our store’s continuation is not a “given.”

And this goes not just for us, but for our many other colleagues online, both in Europe and elsewhere in the world, who’re involved in digital startups of one kind or another: they too will suffer. So will our fellow authors who’ve been delighted to find a customer base online for books from their backlists — ebooks their publishers haven’t been interested in bringing out — but now may be forced to abandon that very welcome income stream due to an unclear and unnerving regulatory burden. (Unlimited fines? Really??)

So here we are, in the brave new world where anyone can start a small business by selling electronic goods such as e-books. It’s a world where publishers bemoan Amazon’s status as the 800-lb gorilla of the e-book market, and governments take measures to try to close tax loopholes that Amazon and others are using. But those measures serve to imperil many of the stores that are trying to compete with Amazon—including stores run by authors themselves so they can eliminate middlemen. And that’s a pity.

Anyway, it’s a great time to stock up on those Young Wizards books if you haven’t grabbed them yet; the discount is great, and they may not be available that much longer.


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