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Amazon Overcharging Publishers For Tax

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the business-will-be-business dept.

Businesses 184

00_NOP writes "Amazon is taking fire in the UK for insisting that publishers pay them for 20% VAT (sales tax) when in fact the online retailer is only paying 3% VAT. 'The firm is able to wield such power over publishers because it has a near monopoly of the UK digital book publishing market. According to reliable estimates, it sells nine out of 10 ebooks in the UK, while using its Luxembourg tax status to wring more profitable terms from publishers. ... In private, British authors and publishers express fears that Amazon's dominance will send the industry into further decline.' Given that the Kindle is rubbish at displaying maths and science and that Amazon is as dangerous a monopoly as Microsoft ever was, is it not time that regulators and consumers stood up to them?" Amazon is also facing criticism right now for allegedly shutting down a woman's account and remotely wiping her Kindle, then refusing to provide information about why it did so.

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Never attribute to malice... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41727917)

that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.

Re:Never attribute to malice... (3, Insightful)

wisnoskij (1206448) | about 2 years ago | (#41727941)

So Amazon has completely cornered the market because of stupidity? how does not make any sense?

Re:Never attribute to malice... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41728027)

It's like with bad movies that are so incredibly bad they're good AGAIN.

Re:Never attribute to malice... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41728079)

Thanks for proving the point. The stupidity is from their customers.

A bad movie is bad, anything else is marketing bullshit.

Re:Never attribute to malice... (1)

kh31d4r (2591021) | about 2 years ago | (#41728129)

Thanks for proving the point. The stupidity is from their customers.

A bad movie is bad, anything else is marketing bullshit.

Yeah, i can imagine the posters for Plan 9 back in the days... "Go watch this movie, it's so shitty that it's funny!"

Re:Never attribute to malice... (0)

noh8rz9 (2716595) | about 2 years ago | (#41728291)

Yeah, it really alarms me thT amazon could hod my book collection hostage. It is very Improtant to me and defines who I am. I think I iBooks is a better method - you can read the books on iPad and such.

Re:Never attribute to malice... (1)

ciderbrew (1860166) | about 2 years ago | (#41728333)

No. The Calamari Wrestler http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0428662/ [imdb.com]
So bad it is great.
Of course The Princess Bride held the title for many years before.

Re:Never attribute to malice... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41728039)

The stupidity of the consumer, accepting what is marketed as the best, rather than observing what is available and picking a better option.

also called 'sheeple'.

I understand why this might cause you some difficulty, just bleat when you get it.

Re:Never attribute to malice... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41728045)

Publishers insisting on DRM, engaging in infighting, and pushing multiple incompatible standards have given Amazon a device monopoly just like music publishers gave Apple. It's stupidity because they had five years to see what was coming. It's publishers monopolistic greed that enabled Amazon's position, and Jeff Bezos is laughing all the way to the bank.

Re:Never attribute to malice... (1, Flamebait)

jhoegl (638955) | about 2 years ago | (#41728963)

But corporations are job creators!

Perhaps now people will realize the balance that must be maintained... but I doubt it.

Re:Never attribute to malice... (4, Insightful)

kilfarsnar (561956) | about 2 years ago | (#41728309)

Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity

I have heard this saying before. But I have never understood why I should consider it to be correct. Don't the malicious often feign ignorance?

Re:Never attribute to malice... (4, Funny)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 2 years ago | (#41728483)

Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity

I have heard this saying before. But I have never understood why I should consider it to be correct.

It shouldn't be considered correct. This saying is promulgated by malicious people in a conspiracy to conceal their actions. There is no way that common acceptance of such a broad generalization could be explained by mere stupidity.

New criteria for government action (4, Insightful)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about 2 years ago | (#41727965)

Overcharging, potentially illegal actions? Pfft, who cares.

Whats that, you say its bad at displaying maths and science? Someone get the firing squad.

Seriously, what on earth do its shortcomings have to do with whether the government needs to take action?

Re:New criteria for government action (2, Interesting)

00_NOP (559413) | about 2 years ago | (#41727985)

Because they are actively selling goods they must know to be unfit for purpose.
What if a retailer sold you something they said was wine when it was simply water? Would you not think that was an issue even if they did it thousands of times and refused to stop when the problem was pointed out to them?

Re:New criteria for government action (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41728153)

I don't recall seeing the Kindle being advertised as a maths/science textbook replacement anywhere.
Kindles don't support footnotes, which is also a pain but equally irrelevant to the issue of how much or little tax Amazon pay.

Re:New criteria for government action (1, Insightful)

1u3hr (530656) | about 2 years ago | (#41729295)

I don't recall seeing the Kindle being advertised as a maths/science textbook replacement anywhere.

"Amazon" didn't create the book, the publisher did. It's not up to Amazon to audit every text book they sell to see if it's correct. The publisher should have proofread it -- it's pretty simple to do, on the Kindle emulator that Amazon supplies for exactly that purpose. Kindle itself uses a subset of HTML in a specific font to display text. If that doesn't work, you have to use images. It does support GIF, JPEG, PNG.

Probably the publisher just ran it through some automatic converter that couldn't handle the symbols. For specialised stuff like that you have to do a lot of custom coding.

Re:New criteria for government action (1)

DM9290 (797337) | about 2 years ago | (#41729315)

Kindles don't support footnotes, which is also a pain but equally irrelevant to the issue of how much or little tax Amazon pay.

It supports hyperlinked end-notes and has a back-button, so unlike a real book its convenient to read the end-note and then return to your original position.

Foot notes dont make much sense when a page is dynamically formatted to the size of the screen - if you had a foot note marker at the bottom of the screen then there would be no room on the screen for the actual foot note, which means the foot note would need to appear at the bottom of the following page, which is confusing at best.

Re:New criteria for government action (1)

kh31d4r (2591021) | about 2 years ago | (#41728157)

Because they are actively selling goods they must know to be unfit for purpose. What if a retailer sold you something they said was wine when it was simply water? Would you not think that was an issue even if they did it thousands of times and refused to stop when the problem was pointed out to them?

It's more like if you got wine that didn't make you see unicorns and shit rainbows like in the ads on TV. I don't have a kindle myself, but I'm sure people would stop buying them if they were completely useless for reading on.

Re:New criteria for government action (4, Informative)

tsa (15680) | about 2 years ago | (#41728235)

Yep, they sold me a book about the evolution of storytelling. The paper version contained some figures that they just left out in the Kindle version. And that made the book unreadable. Thank you Amazon, I will certainly buy Kindle books from you again.

Re:New criteria for government action (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41728777)

Yep, they sold me a book about the evolution of storytelling. The paper version contained some figures that they just left out in the Kindle version. And that made the book unreadable. Thank you Amazon, I will certainly buy Kindle books from you again.

I fail to see how this is Amazons fault. The publisher is responsible for converting books to Mobi and submitting them to Amazon. Blaming Amazon for an eBook that was missing figures would be like blaming them for spelling errors in a print book.

Re:New criteria for government action (4, Insightful)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 2 years ago | (#41728549)

Because they are actively selling goods they must know to be unfit for purpose. What if a retailer sold you something they said was wine when it was simply water? Would you not think that was an issue even if they did it thousands of times and refused to stop when the problem was pointed out to them?

Personally, I'd be far more concerned when they came to repo the "wine" they sold me, not for non-payment, but for some arbitrary reason they made up to justify said repossession without refund.

Seriously, why is that not the bigger focus here? Amazon can repossess your digital stuff without refund or recourse!

See, shit like this is why I only spend money on tangible goods.

Re:New criteria for government action (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41728891)

I have never seen a Kindle advertised as a textbook replacement. They are designed, and marketed for novels, and they do a great job of that. During the time I had my Kindle I read an average of 4 novels (600 page +) a week, for over a year, and never had a problem. I also spent hours every week reading math text books. At no time did I ever look at the huge, full color math text book and think, wow wouldn't it be great to cram all of this text into a screen 1/4 the size of a page, and convert all diagrams to grey scale! Seriously, if you look at a standard textbook, and look at a Kindle, and allow yourself to believe for even a second that that text will display well on the kindle, you have larger problems then your eBook reader.

note: I am aware that the article did not specify "Text Book" just "Math and Science". For the sake of simplicity I am just calling any book that is not in the size and shape of a novel, a text book. It is a very rare Math or Science book that is published in the dimensions of a standard novel, and those that are, typically display on a Kindle just fine.

Re:New criteria for government action (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41729677)

I prefer textbooks in black and white. (And prefer chalk boards to whiteboards).

I dunno whether I am in the minority or not (Probably am in this case).

Other times things definately get changed for the worst - (i.e 16:10 to 16:9 computer screens)

Re:New criteria for government action (-1, Flamebait)

benjfowler (239527) | about 2 years ago | (#41728337)

You are a libertarian douchebag, who wouldn't know compassion, morals or decency if it jumped up and bit you in the face.

Re:New criteria for government action (4, Insightful)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 2 years ago | (#41728573)

Seriously, what on earth do its shortcomings have to do with whether the government needs to take action?

The fact that a company can take something that you paid for from you, without just cause or fiscal reciprocity, is something the government should definitely take action against.

If you or I did that to someone, we would be called "thieves;" why would Amazon be considered any differently?

Re:New criteria for government action (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41728787)

Because you agreed to a contract*1; it is this same category of law that Repo men use to repossess property. We are in a legal nightmare, and I really don't see anything "non-voilent" ending it :(

*1 - The fact you have no say, no control, no options, no recompense, and "basically" no alternatives to the contract doesn't seem to mean anything anymore either. I'm waiting for the first case where a murderer forces (or nicely tricks -- without intimidation) his victim to sign a waiver, sure comon sense will prevail in such an over-the-top scenario, but could be very interesting legally.

Re:New criteria for government action (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41728965)

No need for government interference, let the free market take care of things.

Easy? (2)

mwvdlee (775178) | about 2 years ago | (#41727991)

Surely this is merely a matter of tax laws that lawyers and judges are perfectly well equiped to solve?
If Amazon is a Luxembourg company, than this should be no different from any other Luxembourg company buying and selling products outside Luxembourg borders. Europe has tax laws in place regarding intra-community trade; neither Amazon nor the publisher's opinions matter.

Re:Easy? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41728233)

Surely this is merely a matter of tax laws that lawyers and judges are perfectly well equiped to solve?
If Amazon is a Luxembourg company, than this should be no different from any other Luxembourg company buying and selling products outside Luxembourg borders. Europe has tax laws in place regarding intra-community trade; neither Amazon nor the publisher's opinions matter.

The summary, once again, is not very clear. In fact the Guardian article isn't 100% clear either, but what appears to be the case is that for a product with an intended retail price of £10 in the UK where VAT is 20%, the base UK price would be £10 / (120%) = £8.33. Amazon allegedly insists on negotiating with UK publishers starting with a base price of £8.33. However, in Europe, Amazon is a Luxembourg company and the VAT rate there is 3% for these products. The base price for a retail price of £10 would be £10 / (103%) = £9.71.

I don't think it is really the case that Amazon is "charging them VAT" so tax law doesn't really matter - it would be more accurate to say that they are allegedly insisting on at least an extra 17% discount, and hoping that the publishers don't notice that this is not in fact part of the VAT adjustment. Or alternatively, Amazon is accused of keeping all the tax savings it makes by setting up in the EU's lowest VAT area, Luxembourg, and not sharing them with the publishers.

Re:Easy? (1)

mooingyak (720677) | about 2 years ago | (#41728485)

Surely this is merely a matter of tax laws that lawyers and judges are perfectly well equiped to solve?
If Amazon is a Luxembourg company, than this should be no different from any other Luxembourg company buying and selling products outside Luxembourg borders. Europe has tax laws in place regarding intra-community trade; neither Amazon nor the publisher's opinions matter.

The summary, once again, is not very clear. In fact the Guardian article isn't 100% clear either, but what appears to be the case is that for a product with an intended retail price of £10 in the UK where VAT is 20%, the base UK price would be £10 / (120%) = £8.33. Amazon allegedly insists on negotiating with UK publishers starting with a base price of £8.33. However, in Europe, Amazon is a Luxembourg company and the VAT rate there is 3% for these products. The base price for a retail price of £10 would be £10 / (103%) = £9.71.

I don't think it is really the case that Amazon is "charging them VAT" so tax law doesn't really matter - it would be more accurate to say that they are allegedly insisting on at least an extra 17% discount, and hoping that the publishers don't notice that this is not in fact part of the VAT adjustment. Or alternatively, Amazon is accused of keeping all the tax savings it makes by setting up in the EU's lowest VAT area, Luxembourg, and not sharing them with the publishers.

That makes a great deal more sense. I was thinking that I'm pretty sure there are laws in just about every country in the world that money collected as a tax must be delivered to the government, which means that Amazon would not benefit from this approach.

Re:Easy? (2)

dabadab (126782) | about 2 years ago | (#41729161)

However, in Europe, Amazon is a Luxembourg company and the VAT rate there is 3% for these products.

However, since Amazon is a large retailer, it does not pay VAT in Luxembourg, but in the buyer's country. I would venture to say that most of Amazon's EU customers do not live in Luxembourg so the tax rates there do not mean much.

Re:Easy? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41729663)

However, in Europe, Amazon is a Luxembourg company and the VAT rate there is 3% for these products.

However, since Amazon is a large retailer, it does not pay VAT in Luxembourg, but in the buyer's country. I would venture to say that most of Amazon's EU customers do not live in Luxembourg so the tax rates there do not mean much.

Yes, but ebooks can be delivered to consumers in the UK over the internet from a company established in Luxembourg and are currently considered a type of service. See here [hmrc.gov.uk] for the general rule that in that case, the place of supply is Luxembourg. Note that the rules for electronically supplied services are particularly complex, due to the ease in which people can exploit loopholes, so I may have missed something...

This situation is changing on 1 Jan 2015 per article 5 of Directive 2008/8/EC [europa.eu]

Piling on? (4, Insightful)

camg188 (932324) | about 2 years ago | (#41728011)

What does the kindle's failure to display math and science symbols correctly have to do with Amazon potentially being a monopoly?

Re:Piling on? (1)

del_diablo (1747634) | about 2 years ago | (#41728131)

Its basically what you could talk about as a E ink cartel. For some obscure reason, uknown to the common man, nobody has actually made a decent competitor to the current E Ink readers. As far as we consumers know, the marked only current color E Ink readers are made by a chinese company called Hanvon running Windows CE, and a overpriced product by a company called Ectaco which is markeded to students at a selling price of 500$.
Why is that? B&N and Amazon have these low PPI monochrome ereaders, and yet nobody has come to compete?

Re:Piling on? (1)

tsa (15680) | about 2 years ago | (#41728273)

And you really think Amazon wouldn't want to have a color e-ink reader? I guess they don't have one yet because a) the screen looks crap, or b) it's far too expensive to complete their existing monochrome e-reader line.

Re:Piling on? (1)

del_diablo (1747634) | about 2 years ago | (#41728649)

Beats me, but its still amusing that there is no E Ink reader competiton. Even handhelds such as the Gameboy had competition, even if most of it fell flat because they failed to copy the good parts of the gameboy.

Re:Piling on? (1)

0123456 (636235) | about 2 years ago | (#41729651)

Beats me, but its still amusing that there is no E Ink reader competiton.

As I understand it, they all get their screens from the same company, and the tech is probably patented so no-one else can make them.

VAT (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41728013)

The better question is why are ebooks subjected to VAT in the first place when printed books are not.

Re:VAT (5, Informative)

tuppe666 (904118) | about 2 years ago | (#41728071)

The better question is why are ebooks subjected to VAT in the first place when printed books are not.

http://www.thebookseller.com/news/uk-government-holds-firm-e-book-vat.html [thebookseller.com]

in a written response reiterated the government's position "Under EU law, VAT on electronic books must be charged at the standard rate. A reduced rate cannot be applied to digital or electronic supplies, or supplies of text via the internet, as they are classed as supplies of services rather than physical goods. There is therefore no scope in the principal VAT directive to apply a reduced rate on e-books."

Re:VAT (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41729171)

So that is piracy of services what goes on the internet, not piracy of products as far as the EU is concerned. I wonder what would be the consequences of this definition..

Re:VAT (0)

EasyTarget (43516) | about 2 years ago | (#41728225)

The better question is why are ebooks subjected to VAT in the first place when printed books are not.

Same for bookcases and comfy chairs to read books in.. ..It's utterly disgraceful that these are not sold tax-free too!

Re:VAT (1)

wjousts (1529427) | about 2 years ago | (#41729077)

That was my question too.

ad revenue? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41728019)

Ad revenue must be down on Slashdot this month...

Thank you very much for well timed tip. (2, Informative)

dragisha (788) | about 2 years ago | (#41728049)

I am almost-buyer of Kindle and practically all I need from it is science and math... Thanks for tips, and I hope this is read widely. Maybe next year, or decade... But not before all devices are updated to normal-math, acceptable-tables and acceptable-pdf.

There is another problem I was already aware of - PDF display is, by default, _awful_. I understand why's but I think it is not acceptable at all.

Re:Thank you very much for well timed tip. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41728189)

I've got all my grad work on the kindle fire which works just fine with math and science. Every PDF I've received has worked great. The regular kindle e-ink readers don't do so well with formulas, especially when I have multiple levels of exponents or subscripts. With the fire I can just zoom in and see everything clearly.

If you're buying a math/science book, check the reviews first to make sure it made the transition its original printing method into ebook. Many books weren't written with digital delivery in mind and it shows. Generally speaking, if you're talking academic work and it began life from TeX, it should look great in PDF.

Re:Thank you very much for well timed tip. (4, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 2 years ago | (#41728193)

What I want to know is where the http://pixelqi.com/ [pixelqi.com] guys are hiding... They had a workable device, shipping in nontrivial volume with the OLPC XO-1, and then seemingly dropped off the map.

All the refresh rate of an LCD panel(because it is one); but, in transreflective mode, looks more like e-ink than any LCD I've ever seen and has the option to do color if you crank the backlight....

We know(because all but the nastiest LCD tablets running Android or iOS can and do do it) that contemporary low-power ARM chipsets are up to the challenge of crunching PDFs; but e-ink displays are mostly too small to display 8.5x11 or A4 pages, too slow for panning/zooming/etc, and PDF reflow is crap. If they would just start existing, the Pixel Qi screens would fairly efficiently solve this problem, at lower cost and lower power than standard LCD panels; but nobody seems to have heard a peep from them.

Re:Thank you very much for well timed tip. (1, Insightful)

tsa (15680) | about 2 years ago | (#41728285)

I understand my car can't fly but I think that is not acceptable at all either. Never again will I buy a car.

Re:Thank you very much for well timed tip. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41728373)

Nook Tablet FTW

Of get the Nook Tablet HD coming out.

And stop moving towards a 1 book seller world.

Re:Thank you very much for well timed tip. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41728459)

I read about one book every two days. I bought Nexus 7 when it came out.
The appstore has readers for any format you want, even PDF's can be resized well and fast. It's not only readable in daytime, but also readable in bed at night (that's when I read most).
Has wireless, means I can get books directly from my calibre server, without connecting to the PC, also means, I can browse the internet anytime (english is not my native language, so, this is very important to me).

Oh, and unlike smartphones, it does NOT make calls. That's a plus.

The Kindle Swindle (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41728059)

Re:The Kindle Swindle (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 2 years ago | (#41728105)

Thankfully, it is axiomatic that Stallman Is An Extremist, so we needn't listen to his(often strident, as often correct) warnings!

The awesome thing about the emerging DRM economy is that it combines the economic relations of feudalism with the efficient, data-driven surveillance that East Germany was too low-tech to achieve...

Re:The Kindle Swindle (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about 2 years ago | (#41728209)

Well yes Stallman is an extremist, and is often over the top. Perhaps as often as not.

But there are less strident voices that have been warning about DRM for a while. Like the one in my head.

That's why I buy physical media, or at the worst DRM free media for anything I know I will want to keep long term.

Re:The Kindle Swindle (1)

noh8rz9 (2716595) | about 2 years ago | (#41728359)

But there are less strident voices that have been warning about DRM for a while. Like the ones in my head.

My dog has been warning me about drm for some time. I tell him to shut up, but my other personalities agree with him.

Re:The Kindle Swindle (3, Interesting)

tuppe666 (904118) | about 2 years ago | (#41728369)

Thankfully, it is axiomatic that Stallman Is An Extremist,

DRM is bad http://www.defectivebydesign.org/ [defectivebydesign.org] "Digital Restrictions Management is technology that controls what you can do with the digital media and devices you own. When a program doesn't let you share a song, read an ebook on another device, or play a game without an internet connection, you are being restricted by DRM." most users would argue wanting to do those things isn't extreme.

Re:The Kindle Swindle (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41728595)

Extremism in the defense of liberty is not a vice!

Corrected version of Original Article (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41728075)

"Amazon is doing something shady and it'll get worked out in court now that it's know.

In the meantime, can we get a lynch mob started? Please guys. I don't like them because of [generic complain 1] and [generic complain 2] so let's try and get a mob started, ok?"

Re: Corrected version of Original Article (2)

LizardKing (5245) | about 2 years ago | (#41728577)

Amazon is doing something shady and it'll get worked out in court now that it's know[n].

Oh yeah, just like Vodafone and the billions of pounds they avoided paying in tax. In the UK the politicians let big firms get away with crap like this and the Facebook tax dodge in the mistaken belief that it brings jobs to the country. All it does is line the pockets of a few at the cost of a huge amount of tax revenue taht could be used to finance real investment.

Better devices? (1)

Arancaytar (966377) | about 2 years ago | (#41728087)

Having been this close to buying a Kindle, I'm glad I saw this warning first.

Can anyone suggest a device with better PDF support?

Re:Better devices? (1)

Arancaytar (966377) | about 2 years ago | (#41728099)

Addendum: I meant support for math symbol display, though PDF support is obviously also a fairly essential feature.

Re:Better devices? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41728133)

ipad is great for pdfs, and the form factor of the screen is closer to paper than the "widescreen" format of some android tablest

I do just find reading PDFs using a comic reader on an acer iconia, I'm sure there are better fully functional PDF readers out there but the comic reader works fine for most book reading

Re:Better devices? (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | about 2 years ago | (#41728385)

Having owned two tablets, used an iPad for extensive periods and owning an ereader (kobo touch), the difference in quality for reading is worlds apart.
e-Ink, despite it's low refresh speed, lack of color, flaws and high price, is much better for reading text than any active display technology I've ever seen.

More on topic though; is there any test PDF or epub file I could try on my reader to check how well (or badly) it renders math equations?

Blackberry Playbook (1)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | about 2 years ago | (#41728637)

It is much cheaper than an iPad, portable, and the PDF reader works perfectly. I have large numbers of technical documents on mine. The battery life is obviously not as good as an e-reader, but there is available a fast charger with a magnetic connector which means I have no worries about damaging a small and fragile connector with frequent plugging in.

It is also possible to minimise documents while doing calculations, for instance, and switch quickly between spreadsheets, calculator and documents. And there is a micro-HDMI output socket as standard. More solid than a Nexus 7, usable camera, and an eventual upgrade to BB 10 is promised. Mine is over a year old and there is still nothing to touch it at the price (just don't buy from Amazon). It is a product whose owners know about it, but negative publicity has kept buyers away. This means you can buy one in the UK for under $200 with our 20% VAT, and the same in the US.

Re:Better devices? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41728261)

PocketBook 902 - 9 inches, e-ink, supports almost every file format under the sun:
http://www.pocketbookreader.com/PocketBook_902.html

Re:Better devices? (0)

SnarfQuest (469614) | about 2 years ago | (#41728329)

Can anyone suggest a device with better PDF support?

A color laser printer.

You do realize that PDF is meant for printing. The P in the acronym kinda gives it away.

Just because the e-ink Kindles don't display full color movies is a stupid reason for not buying one. It's like not buying a sports car because you can't tow a fully loaded semi trailer with it. It wasn't built to do that, so why act so suprized?

Re:Better devices? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41728439)

You do realize that PDF is meant for printing. The P in the acronym kinda gives it away.

The P in Portable Document Format?

Re:Better devices? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41728443)

What does the P in PDF (Portable Document Format) have to do with printing?

Re:Better devices? (4, Funny)

mrclisdue (1321513) | about 2 years ago | (#41728541)

...You do realize that PDF is meant for printing. The P in the acronym kinda gives it away....

So, the 'P' in PDF, which stands for 'Portable Document Format', is supposed to remind us, somehow, of printing?

Does the 'G' in Gif somehow remind us of giraffes?

How do I subscribe to your newsletter?

cheers,

Re:Better devices? (0)

VVrath (542962) | about 2 years ago | (#41728631)

Erm... PDF stands for Portable Document Format [wikipedia.org] . While they do print quite nicely, printing is far from the only use such files have.

Not Paranoid (3, Informative)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about 2 years ago | (#41728143)

And I thought I was just being paranoid about this sort of thing.

When Amazon first went around deleting books off of people's Kindles I vowed I'd never buy one. Now it appears my apprehension was all too justified.

I hear the Nexus 7 does a better job with pdfs than the Kindle. It appears to me that's the way I am headed.

Re:Not Paranoid (1)

Joehonkie (665142) | about 2 years ago | (#41728539)

I bought a DVD of Star Trek comics (possibly the nerdiest thing I've ever done and that's saying a lot) at one point and I have been reading them on my Nexus 7 with Perfect Viewer with no real issues other than figuring out how to reset all the options (by default it's set up for right-to-left reading, among other things I wanted to change) and it's great for that. I have some other PDF stuff I should test it with but I'd say it's near perfect so far.

Off line storage (5, Informative)

mprindle (198799) | about 2 years ago | (#41728173)

"Amazon is also facing criticism right now for allegedly shutting down a woman's account and remotely wiping her Kindle, then refusing to provide information about why it did so."

This is the exact reason why I strip the DRM from every Kindle book I buy and then store them in my own offline repository. Should Amazon ever decide to wipe my account I'll still have the books I purchased. The other advantage is I can use any e-reader I want w/o being locked to a Kindle.

Re:Off line storage (2)

00_NOP (559413) | about 2 years ago | (#41728263)

How do you do this?

Re:Off line storage (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41729405)

Google it not hard....

Look at Calibre for a simple solution

Re:Off line storage (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41728375)

Could you elaborate on how you removed the DRM's frim your books? I'm asking because I have over 250 classic e-books I got free from kindle from back when they first started up. I can presently always re-download them since they are listed as "purchased", but I can see the day coming when I won't be able to download them from my account any longer. Thanks in advance.

Re:Off line storage (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41728915)

Not the OP, but I use these for my nook books.

Calibre [calibre-ebook.com]

DRM Removal Tools for eBooks [wordpress.com]

Re:Off line storage (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41729331)

Thank you for that. I thought it mighr involve burning the files to disc, then copying them back from the disc, ala mp3s bought from apple's music store. Great links, appreciate you taking time to post them. :-)

Re:Off line storage (2)

squiggleslash (241428) | about 2 years ago | (#41729551)

No no no, you just print them out, and then rescan them ;-)

re: The "Kindle woman" story (4, Informative)

SternisheFan (2529412) | about 2 years ago | (#41728239)

So if this story is true as stated, and she has bought lots of e-books from Amazon, will Amazon refund her all the money she's spent on them? Or does Amazon just 'absorb' that $$$? I'd sue Amazon for actual damages, court and lawyer fees and damages. I can see the future of e-commerce, and this a bad trend starting here.

Just one question: (2)

n6kuy (172098) | about 2 years ago | (#41728811)

How do we know that this story is actually true, and not just some BS made up by someone who has an axe to grind with Amazon?

relax (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41728265)

relax. its the internet, no website can ever have a monopoly, because visiting and using a website such as amazon or google is always a choice.

comparing amazon to microsoft is ludicrous.

This is not how VAT works (4, Insightful)

tuppe666 (904118) | about 2 years ago | (#41728289)

Having been totally baffled by the summery. Which is incredibly confusing. Nothing has changed, VAT works like it always does the final customer pays it ALL thats the books buyer paying 20% http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=502578 [amazon.co.uk] .

This is purely about dodgy maths. Amazon make deals on percentage of Gross Price with the publishers the UK full retail price of the book [net price+20%vat], not on the net price + [Vat in Luxenbourg] 3%. where publishers would get a slightly larger piece of pie . Neither Amazon or the Publishers pay a penny in tax so I fail to see why this is an issue. A better argument would be to standardise of Amazon taking a percentage of the net price as opposed to gross price, but all this should not matter, its really whatever they have negotiated between themselves.

This is a ridiculous Anti-Amazon article, I suspect to distract from the disgusting behaviour that Apple and 5 Publishers are involved in

Re:This is not how VAT works (4, Interesting)

dcarmi (940742) | about 2 years ago | (#41728835)

Indeed you are right that VAT is a consumer tax. Transactions between companies are not VAT-rated (unless they themselves are the consumers). However...

Due to a loophole, Amazon pay VAT for books sold in the UK to the Luxembourg Government (at 3%). I am no VAT expert and it is a stupidly complicated tax but it may well be that Amazon is forced to pay UK VAT on ebooks it buys from UK publishers because they are the end of the chain and seen as the consumer for UK tax purposes. In fact Amazon UK is classed simply as a distributor. The real business is in Luxembourg

Amazon now class themselves as just a distributor in the UK with their main business located in Luxembourg. On UK sales of £3.3 billion last year they paid precisely no UK tax. Amazon in Luxembourg employ 134 people, who must work very hard indeed compared to the 2300 box pushers in the UK. Amazon also get a Federal tax credit in the US because they pay (ahem) tax abroad. This means they pay less than the standard rate (35%) companies would normally pay.

Problem for IRS-equivalent too (1)

paugq (443696) | about 2 years ago | (#41728347)

This is not only a problem for publishers (which pay 20% instead of 3%) but also for the equivalents of the IRS. Amazon is paying a lot less taxes than it should in other countries by leveraging that extra 17% in two ways: benefits, and gaming the input/output VAT.

Re:Problem for IRS-equivalent too (3, Interesting)

tuppe666 (904118) | about 2 years ago | (#41728499)

This is not only a problem for publishers (which pay 20% instead of 3%) but also for the equivalents of the IRS. Amazon is paying a lot less taxes than it should in other countries by leveraging that extra 17% in two ways: benefits, and gaming the input/output VAT.

No that is not what is happening the Publishers pay Nothing; Zero; Zilch; Nada; Nothing. Amazon also pay Nothing; Zero; Zilch; Nada; Nothing. The *Final* customer pays the standard rate which is 20% in the UK and the Government gets it ALL.

VAT does not work like you think it does. Businesses do not Pay VAT.

Re:Problem for IRS-equivalent too (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41728621)

VAT does not work like you think it does. Businesses do not Pay VAT.

Small companies are generally not VAT-registered, and therefore have to pay the tax.

But in general you are correct; businesses on the whole avoid paying VAT even when they provide no discernable "value addition" to the product or service. Perhaps if each intermediate business had to pay 1% VAT we'd see a reduction on the number of middlemen and shell companies.

Re:Problem for IRS-equivalent too (2)

tuppe666 (904118) | about 2 years ago | (#41728701)

Small companies are generally not VAT-registered, and therefore have to pay the tax.

But in general you are correct; businesses on the whole avoid paying VAT even when they provide no discernable "value addition" to the product or service. Perhaps if each intermediate business had to pay 1% VAT we'd see a reduction on the number of middlemen and shell companies.

No Small companies are almost always VAT registered, you have to have a turnover of less than £77,000 which excludes all but sole-traders, and even then they have a tendency to be vat registered if they do work for businesses.

http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/vat/start/register/when-to-register.htm [hmrc.gov.uk]

Re:Problem for IRS-equivalent too (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41728803)

It would have to be a very small company then. I run a one-man-band ltd company in the UK, and it is VAT registered. Having a VAT registration is very often a requirement from customers, and it is needed if I would want to reclaim VAT paid on goods purchased (which I dearly want to, otherwise it would come straight out of my margin).

There is nothing strange or new here:
* VAT works as it is supposed to do (you pass it on to your customer).
* A (near) monopolist is taking advantage of their strong hand. Could be something for the regulators to look into.
* Guardian journalists showing that having a clue is not mandatory.

Re:Problem for IRS-equivalent too (1)

mrbester (200927) | about 2 years ago | (#41728789)

In other words, VAT is not levied on a seller, but a buyer. If Amazon charges 20% for the privilege of reselling your product then that isn't VAT as none of it is paid to the Govt. but a massive cash grab to the detriment of the producer. They also charge a download "tax" to the producer if the e-book costs less than £10.

Re:Problem for IRS-equivalent too (2)

paugq (443696) | about 2 years ago | (#41729011)

VAT does not work like you think it does. Businesses do not Pay VAT.

Sorry pal, but that's not how VAT works.

There is input VAT and output VAT.

Businesses do pay VAT, except for later they "cancel" it thanks to the input/output VAT compensation.

But that's only if input VAT and output VAT are at the same percentage. If you are paid 3% VAT by Amazon but you have to pay 20% VAT to IRS, then you are in trouble. That's exactly what publishers are complaining about.

Re:Problem for IRS-equivalent too (3, Informative)

tuppe666 (904118) | about 2 years ago | (#41729225)

VAT does not work like you think it does. Businesses do not Pay VAT.

Sorry pal, but that's not how VAT works.

There is input VAT and output VAT.

Businesses do pay VAT, except for later they "cancel" it thanks to the input/output VAT compensation.

But that's only if input VAT and output VAT are at the same percentage. If you are paid 3% VAT by Amazon but you have to pay 20% VAT to IRS, then you are in trouble. That's exactly what publishers are complaining about.

I'm not your PAL. Your absolutely right that that there is "output vat" and "input vat", the business gives the *difference* to the government. The Final Customer Pays ALL the VAT!!! The other businesses just collect chunks of it along the way :) hence the *Added* bit. VAT does not work like you think it does.

The Publishers are complaining they are getting a smaller piece of the pie after discounts have been negotiated, as they are worked out on 120% of the net price not 103% of the net price. Try the maths yourself. Again neither the publishers nor Amazon pay a bean in VAT. Its about dividing the net cost!!

Disinformation about ebook vat (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41728365)

As another comment linked to an article: Vat by EU law is 20% for ebooks. It's only certain EU countries that have decided to do a reduced rate (against EU law) which % depends on the country (3% for Luxembourg and France at 5.5%). EU may consider changing the law but not until 2015. This statement is most telling: "The French government has told publishers that it will pay fines imposed by the EU as a result of its decision." Meaning the situation is something Amazon may not be able to deal with yet.

That said, the point about the account invalidation is valid though. Ability to delete books remotely = death-sentence when abused.

Re:Disinformation about ebook vat (2)

amorsen (7485) | about 2 years ago | (#41728565)

As another comment linked to an article: Vat by EU law is 20% for ebooks.

This is wrong. EU requires that VAT for ebooks is the same as the standard VAT, whatever that is in the particular country where the book is "published".

In 2015 the rules will change, and it will be the country of the buyer which determines VAT (as it is for everything else), and then it will all be academic.

them selves to blame (1)

ssam (2723487) | about 2 years ago | (#41728431)

dont the publishers mostly have them selves to blame. they demanded DRM, which inherently results in lock in. now there customers have a bunch of kindle books that they would have to buy again if they wanted to move to different hardware.

Uhhh, why not "collect" 70% tax rate? (2)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about 2 years ago | (#41728525)

Isn't it fraud to charge somebody for a tax then not pay the money to the government? This is true whether they really owe 20% and pay 3% or owe 3% and lie to customers they need to collect 20%.

Re:Uhhh, why not "collect" 70% tax rate? (2)

tuppe666 (904118) | about 2 years ago | (#41728831)

Isn't it fraud to charge somebody for a tax then not pay the money to the government? This is true whether they really owe 20% and pay 3% or owe 3% and lie to customers they need to collect 20%.

...but that is not what is happening. Its also not what this article is about. Its incredibly confusing its about the starting price for discount negotiations, neither Amazon or the Publishers pay VAT.

Re:Uhhh, why not "collect" 70% tax rate? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41728957)

Last time I tried buying something from Amazon they wanted to charge 27% VAT, because I'm from Hungary. I doubt they would send it to our government, no deal.

Related link... (4, Interesting)

SternisheFan (2529412) | about 2 years ago | (#41728971)

From BoingBoing's Cory Doctorow, a former bookseller himself. http://boingboing.net/2012/10/22/kindle-user-claims-amazon-dele.html [boingboing.net]

"If it's a choice between paving the way for tyranny and risking the loss of your digital life at the press of a button by some deceived customer service rep, and having to remember a password, I think the password is the way to go. The former works better, but the latter fails better. A note to anyone from Amazon PR contemplating sending me a comment regarding this: I expect that any comment from Amazon regarding this story will disclose whether and when Amazon can delete files (including files loaded by users) from Kindles, and whether DRM-free files can still be deleted. Also: as a policy, I do not quote anonymous spokespeople for firms unless they are telling me something that could cost them their jobs."

What problem? (2)

jouassou (1854178) | about 2 years ago | (#41728983)

I bought a kindle about a month ago, and use it exclusively to read math and science. I'm a third year physics student, so most of the content is full of greek letters, mathematical notation, and stuff like hats and bars on letters. Of the 30-40 documents I've tried to read on it so far, I've only stumbled on a single document with a rendering error (where e^(-E) has the exponent pushed into the base number)...

US tax (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41729005)

A VERY timely post as I was just in a meeting concerning Amazon and tax in the US. My company is selling items on Amazon. Some states don't just have a state tax, but also charge on a zip code level basis. Surprising enough, Amazon's system is unable to correctly charge sales tax in this case. Our old internal system can handle it. It's very very odd that a billion dollar company can't calculate the tax fee right.

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