I found myself at a local branch of the electronics chain Media Markt today. Mostly I was there because my Dad wanted to look at pricey Italian coffeemakers. But I also got a chance to look at the e-readers they had on display.
The display itself wasn’t much, a couple of e-readers on a shelf wedged between tablet PCs and netbooks. I spotted a Kobo and a Sony Reader with a really grisly bright pink casing and a couple of other, lesser known brands. Several of the tablets on display also had the Kindle app pre-installed. What is more, tonight I saw the Kobo reader promoted in a Media Markt TV commercial as well. The market still isn’t great, but e-readers are gaining a little more visibility here in Germany.
Finally, today was also a good news day for European readers and indie writers:
The Bookseller reports that Luxembourg is planning to lower the VAT levied on e-books from its current rate of 15 percent to a significantly lower rate of 3 percent. I’m very surprised that none of the usual suspects like Passive Guy or David Gaughran are commenting on this, because it’s great news for all European readers and for indie publishers, since Amazon Europe is headquartered in Luxembourg and therefore obliged to charge the Luxembourg VAT rate. And a lower VAT rate on e-books in Luxembourg means cheaper e-books for readers and less confusing pricing for indies, since Amazon follows the US practice of adding the VAT to the list price. So hurray for Luxembourg!
ETA: FutureBook has some more on the whole VAT issue, including a proposal to lower the VAT rate on e-books in the UK.
More potential good news: Also according to the Bookseller, Barnes & Noble is planning to bring its e-reader Nook to the UK in the “not too distant future” either as a stand-alone operation or in partnership with Waterstone’s. Now I don’t give a damn about the Nook, but if Barnes & Noble has finally woken up to the fact that there is life outside the US and that it is sentient and able to read and write, then maybe they will finally open their PubIt platform to Non-Americans as well. We can but hope.