Differences and similarities between the UK and the German publishing industry

First of all, it is not possible to sum up all the differences and similarities between the UK and German publishing industries in just one article, so this article will just touch on the topic. I will mention the VAT regularities for books in both countries, the netbook agreement, and finally an overview of different network bodies and associations in each country.

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First of all, it is not possible to sum up all the differences and similarities between the UK and German publishing industries in just one article, so this article will just touch on the topic. I hope that I can still give you a good summary of the most important key points from my point of view (as a student of Book Studies in Germany who has studied Publishing for a while). I will mention the VAT regularities for books in both countries, the netbook agreement, and finally an overview of different network bodies and associations in each country (hopefully this might also be useful for research questions).

The book market in both countries is protected by different regularities by each government, because of the cultural status of the book. To do so, there are special VAT requirements for books in both countries. In the UK, books are included in the zero-rated goods which means that they are still VAT-taxable but the charged rate for the customer is 0%. A similar law applies in Germany: Instead of the general VAT of 19%, customers who are buying books only have to pay 7% VAT (reduzierter Mehrwertssteuersatz).

Another specific law for books in Germany is the so-called netbook agreement (Buchpreisbindung). This means that the publisher fixes a specific price for a book and everyone who wants to sell this book has to sell it for this fixed price. It is not allowed to sell it for a higher price nor for a lower price (and yes, this includes Amazon!). Some exceptions exist for specific editions of a book or for remaindered books, in this case the fixed price is superseded. But in general, every book has a specific price and it costs the same in every shop in Germany. Like I said before, this even applies to Amazon which means people in Germany who buy a book on Amazon have to pay the same price as they would in a bookshop. I do not go further into the consequences of a valid netbook agreement, but I would love to see a discussion in the comments and to hear about different opinions and possible advantages and disadvantages on a book market which is protected by a netbook agreement.

There are some network bodies and associations in the UK publishing industry who have a similar counterpart in Germany. Hopefully the list below is useful for research (unfortunately not all is available in English, but there may be English summaries).

Publishing Scotland Börsenverein des deutschen Buchhandels
Nielsen Book Scan Buch und Buchhandel in Zahlen (Börsenverein*)
Bookseller Börsenblatt (Börsenverein*)

Buchreport

Buchmarkt

The Society of Young Publishers Junge Verlagsmenschen e.V.

Both societies try to cooperate!

London Book Fair

Edinburgh International Book Festival

Frankfurter Buchmesse (international)

Leipziger Buchmesse (national)

*Academic note: The Börsenverein has advantages and disadvantages. I, personally, would never just look at their data, make sure you find similar numbers with other resources (especially for ebooks).

Please feel free to continue my list or add more facts about the book market in both countries! Also, I will do my best to answer any questions you may have.

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