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Imposition of 10% Custom Duty on Book Import Impact Nepal’s Booksellers, Students

Many Nepali publishers print their books in India and earlier would have to pay 15 per cent tax. "Now they are asked to pay 10 per cent duty on total imports"

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nepal, duty on books
With the customs duty and the added charges, it is going to be difficult to sell imported books to academic institutions, libraries and students. Wikimedia Commons

Even as Indian publishers are grappling with a budget proposal of 5 per cent customs duty on imported books, in close neighbour Nepal, a 10 per cent duty on books has left publishers and booksellers reeling, with students hit badly as Kathmandu imports over 80 per cent of its books from India.

A few days after the Nepal government on May 29 announced a 10 per cent duty on imported books, publishers stopped picking up books at the Nepal customs point in protest and have demanded roll back of the move. With no text books coming in to Nepal, the student community has been affected the most, say publishers.

“Around 80-90 per cent of books in Nepal are imported, and most of it from India. Now the students, including those in Classes 10 and 11, are not getting text books on time. The National Booksellers’ and Publishers’ Association of Nepal (NBPAN) has decided not to import any books in protest. We import 90-95 per cent of academic and text books from India,” a noted book seller in Kathmandu told IANS on phone, declining to be named.

According to Madhab Maharjan, Advisor NBPAN and owner of Mandala Book Point in Kathmandu, the 10 per cent customs duty will attract other taxes, like the cost, insurance and freight tax and other charges, further pushing up the price of imported books.

nepal, duty on books
According to Maharjan if India revokes the 5% duty on imported books the move “may help to revoke 10 per cent duty in Nepal too”. Wikimedia Commons

“Books all over the world are sold at the printed price. With the customs duty and the added charges, it is going to be difficult to sell imported books to academic institutions, libraries and students,” Maharjan told IANS over phone from Kathmandu.

He said they have requested the KP Sharma Oli government to remove the tax. “We have a long tradition of importing books from India. Religious books were imported from Benaras in the 20th century. Now the import of books is restricted to New Delhi,” said Maharjan, adding that scholars, academics and experts are raising their voices in protest against the move through the print and social media.

The 10 per cent tax will hamper the free flow of books and also affect the reading habit of students, says Maharjan. According to him, a Nepali journalist in an article in a local daily asked Finance Minister Yuba Raj Khatiwada, who is a PhD in economics, whether it was a theory of economics to impose the customs duty on books when the need was to improve the reading habits and culture of the people.

The reason for stopping the books at the customs point was because “as soon as we import we will have to increase the price, and secondly the old stocks have to be sold at the old price”.

“Thus there will be two prices of the book in one book store. This will create misunderstanding with students, readers, scholars, researchers and academics at large with whom we have to deal with everyday,” Maharjan said.

nepal, duty on books
Many Nepali publishers print their books in India and earlier would have to pay 15 per cent tax. “Now they are asked to pay 10 per cent duty on total imports. Wikimedia Commons

He added: “We do not want any one taking undue advantage of the situation, including politically motivating the students. Thus we have opted for this move not to import books till we come to a final decision.” According to him, the onset of the digital era has hit book sellers and publishers. “There are not many book shops left, and with moves like this book sellers may not survive for long.”

Many Nepali publishers print their books in India and earlier would have to pay 15 per cent tax. “Now they are asked to pay 10 per cent duty on total imports. The earlier system was better to protect the local industry,” Maharjan said.

ALSO READ: Is Budget 2019-20 a Hope for India’s Development?

The number of students pursuing higher education in Nepal under Management, Humanities, Science and Education stands at around 400,000, and they would be directly hit by the duty on books imported from India. According to Maharjan if India revokes the 5% duty on imported books the move “may help to revoke 10 per cent duty in Nepal too”.

K.P.R. Nair, Managing Director Konark Publishers in Delhi, said Indian publishers are aware of the situation in Nepal and are trying to help. “They have asked for our help, and we are going to help them,” Nair, a veteran in the publishing industry, told IANS. (IANS)

Next Story

Here’s Why CEO Jeff Bezos Decided Books to be Amazon’s First Product

The store also sells Amazon electronics, including the Amazon Kindle e-book reader, Kindle Fire tablet series, the Amazon Echo, and the Amazon Fire TV

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Jeff Bezos
Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and owner of Blue Origin. (Wikimedia commons)

Do you know why Jeff Bezos decided to sell books, and not CDs, online 22 years ago? A rediscovered 1997 video has revealed why the richest man of Earth chose books over CDs to be Amazon’s first product.

Rediscovered by analyst Brian Roemmele and shared on Twitter, the video shows a young Bezos speaking during a 1997 “Special Libraries Conference”.

“I picked books as the first best product to sell online, making a list of like 20 different products that you might be able to sell.

“Books were great as the first best because books are incredibly unusual in one respect, that is that there are more items in the book category than there are items in any other category by far.

“Music is number two, there are about 200,000 active music CDs at any given time. But in the book space there are over 3 million different books worldwide active in print at any given time across all languages, more than 1.5 million in English alone. So when you have that many items you can literally build a store online that couldn’t exist any other way,” Bezos says in the video.

The Amazon Founder and CEO who is worth $110 billion today said Amazon was able to capture people’s attention by giving them something that had real value – an online marketplace that made shopping easy.

Amazon
Hindi language added to Amazon messaging assistant for Indian users. Pixabay

“The June 1997 video is notable too because just a month earlier, Amazon went public for only $18 a share. As of yesterday’s close, Amazon was worth $1,778 per share,” TechRepublic reported on Wednesday.

Not just selling books online, Amazon has 526 physical retail locations globally, including 19 Amazon Books stores.

The company opened its first physical book store in Seattle’s University shopping centre in 2015.

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The first location in Seattle had approximately 5,000 titles stocked on its bookshelves, using shelf space to display the covers of books facing outwards instead of spines.

According to Amazon, the decision was made to showcase the authors and their work, rather than efficient use of space.

The store also sells Amazon electronics, including the Amazon Kindle e-book reader, Kindle Fire tablet series, the Amazon Echo, and the Amazon Fire TV. (IANS)