Internet economy

E-books: Developments and Policy Considerations

 

Books are undergoing a massive transformation from being a physical object to something electronic, or an "e-book". And while e-book sales still make up only a small proportion of book sales (1% in most OECD countries, 2-3% in the United Kingdom and 8% in the United States), consumers spent an estimated USD 966 million on them in 2010. By 2015, the industry is anticipated to nearly triple to almost USD 3 billion. Just as notable is the recent dramatic rate of growth in OECD markets for e-books; for example, on 19 May 2011, Amazon announced that its sales of e-books had overtaken sales of all forms of print books combined.

 

Ongoing policy issues related to e-books include differing tax rates in countries between physical books and e-books, consumer lock-in to specific platforms, limitations on how users can read and share their purchased content, laws prohibiting discounting of e-books, and a lack of transparency about how personal data on reading habits is being used.

 

Value added tax (VAT) rates for printed books and e-books
Selected countries, 2011

Country

VAT printed book

VAT e-book

Italy

4%

21%

France

5.5%

7%

Germany

7%

19%

United Kingdom

0

20%

Spain

4%

18%

Luxembourg

3%

15%

Sweden

6%

25% if purchased online

 

Download the October 2012 report "E-books: Developments and Policy Considerations"

  • PDF
  • EPUB, e-reader version (e.g. for Apple and generic e-book readers)
  • MOBI, Amazon Kindle version

 

Background 

This report is part of an OECD series on digital content. Other studies include online news, public sector information, film and video, user-created content, mobile content, online computer games, music, and scientific publishing.

 

Related Documents

 

OECD Insights: Cows, calves and codes - e-books and the future of publishing

 

Countries list

  • Afghanistan
  • Albania
  • Algeria
  • Andorra
  • Angola
  • Anguilla
  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Argentina
  • Armenia
  • Aruba
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  • Bulgaria
  • Burkina Faso
  • Burundi
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  • Cameroon
  • Canada
  • Cape Verde
  • Cayman Islands
  • Central African Republic
  • Chad
  • Chile
  • China (People’s Republic of)
  • Chinese Taipei
  • Colombia
  • Comoros
  • Congo
  • Cook Islands
  • Costa Rica
  • Croatia
  • Cuba
  • Cyprus
  • Czech Republic
  • Côte d'Ivoire
  • Democratic People's Republic of Korea
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Denmark
  • Djibouti
  • Dominica
  • Dominican Republic
  • Ecuador
  • Egypt
  • El Salvador
  • Equatorial Guinea
  • Eritrea
  • Estonia
  • Ethiopia
  • European Union
  • Faeroe Islands
  • Fiji
  • Finland
  • Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM)
  • France
  • French Guiana
  • Gabon
  • Gambia
  • Georgia
  • Germany
  • Ghana
  • Gibraltar
  • Greece
  • Greenland
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  • Guernsey
  • Guinea
  • Guinea-Bissau
  • Guyana
  • Haiti
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  • Hungary
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  • Iraq
  • Ireland
  • Islamic Republic of Iran
  • Isle of Man
  • Israel
  • Italy
  • Jamaica
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  • New Zealand
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  • Nigeria
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  • Ukraine
  • United Arab Emirates
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  • Uruguay
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