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Friday, 29 January 2021

Buying Photobooks across the English Channel is not easy anymore


    Image from Salvi Danes

Brexit is beginning to bite and it is having an effect on the photobook market. These are a few comments posted on Facebook the other day about the way in which the UK (or Great Britain and Northern Ireland to be more accurate - Northern Ireland is not subject to the same kinds of problems I think. I don't know, but I think) is becoming even more of an isolated island than it was before. Tragically, I think that effect will be amplified by the ending of the Erasmus programmes, by the ending of particular kinds of funding, by the increased bureaucracies that are only just beginning to emerge (but were entirely predictable and predicted). 

What is interesting is how people are thinking about workarounds. Ana Casas Broda of Hydra has been thinking about this for a long time I know (think of shipping charges from Mexico, where she is based, to Europe), as is anyone in Europe who has tried to buy a book from the US. 

    Horse by Heleen Peeters from the Eriskay Connection - not directly available from the publisher in the UK, but available from here)

These are some of the problems for buying books from the UK, or selling them to the UK. 

Giulia Zorzi on the impact of Brexit on photobook selling.

Colin Pantall asked about BREXIT and I say in short: it is a nightmare and UK publishers and distributors are not understanding the point. We have customs now.
First problem: timing.
IF I receive a book (I write IF as it is totally uncertain now, and this is the first problem), it happens with 3-4 weeks of delay (average) Consequence: to deal with this, of course I must change the way I make orders. I cannot order 5 copies only.
Second problem: costs.
I have to pay 25€ for every shipping just for the customs procedure.
I also have to pay 4% VAT - this has not changed, as I always had to pay VAT on UK books, even before, but now bureaucracy is more complicated, so the invoice for customs must correspond to the invoice issued to me for payment. As simple as this may sound, it never happens. I pay xxx and get customs invoice from yyy with books listed with different quantities / titles / prices.
This is just the beginning of a list.
Also, I am dealing with publishers based in the UK or US or Switzerland who send me books from EU countries and do not consider that this is a problem. Where there is a customs, there must be a procedure of books going through it. This means a lot of work on my side trying to solve problems that cause fines.

On the Eriskay Connection website: Due to Brexit, we stopped shipping to the UK until we sorted out our VAT application.

Until then, residents of the UK can order our books directly from our distributor: Idea Books.

Stefan Vanthuyne
 Correct, unfortunately. Due to the magnitude of issues, we had to temporarily suspend shipping to the UK. We thought after Brexit sending a book to the UK would be just the same as sending one to the US (or any other country outside the EU), but we couldn't have been more wrong. Instead, we have trouble sending packages in the first place, as some shipping companies temporarily suspended shipping to the UK. Secondly, packages got stuck in customs. Thirdly, in order to send products to the UK without worrying about these arriving in good order (both to businesses and consumers) we have to register for our own UK VAT number, just so we can do our own quarterly tax returns in the UK, and this is only for the packages up to £165. On top of that, in order to send packages to Northern Ireland, we need another separate registration as well. Finally, most business in the Netherlands who already applied for a UK VAT number have not yet received one. The bureaucracy involved is horrible... I certainly hope things will smooth out in the near future, because this is nearly unworkable

I'm just beginning to navigate this nightmare from our side, too. Prospects look frighteningly unworkable indeed! I'm wondering if there's any way for us to band together to work out a better position for all of us.
Also, given that books are zero rated for VAT in the UK there should theoretically be no change for you shipping books in, no matter the amount. It is all so confusing 😕

                                                                                                                                                                                     Giulia Zorzi
of course if a UK customer buys something from Micamera, there is a 25€ fixed fee to add to the shipping cost for customs handling procedures.

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