Tag Archives: EU

EU confirms that libraries can lend ebooks provided authors are fairly compensated

2016-11-13

Ebooks have been, and are being, lended by public libraries in many EU countries, but on November 10th, 2016 the EU Court of Justice decided that libraries really have the right to do so. The court regarded that the principles for lending paper books and ebooks are the same. The most important point for authors and publishers of digital books is that the court specifically stated that the authors must be fairly remunerated for library loans.
bookshelf, dictionaries
The case was brought to the EU Court of Justice by Dutch authors’ organization Stichting Leenrecht which collects remuneration for authors. The EU court, however, saw the big picture and stated in its press release:

“That conclusion is, moreover, borne out by the objective pursued by the directive, namely that copyright must adapt to new economic developments.”

The EU Court attitude is warmly welcomed, and hopefully spreads to EU nations as well. Authors’ rights to benefit from their work is the number one priority for everyone in the business, but at the same time, the way the rights are used must be developed as the digital era progresses.

The EU Court states:

“[e-book lending] has essentially similar characteristics to the lending of printed works. That is the case as regards the lending of a digital copy of a book under the ‘one copy, one user’ model.” And specifically reminds “… provided that authors obtain, at least, fair remuneration.”

Currently, there are many practices in EU countries how libraries deal with digital books. For instance, public libraries in Finland don’t compensate ebook rights holders anything when citizens lend their works. That’s why publishers and authors are very reluctant to make ebooks available via libraries – one of likely reasons that has prevented ebook market to emerge in the country. In Sweden, publishers can set the price per loan that libraries have to pay for each loan. If a publisher sets the loan price too high, libraries won’t make the book available, but when the price is right, everyone is happy (including citizens who couldn’t get enough of football star Zlatan’s biography).

Surprisingly, The Federation of European Publishers opposes EU Court’s ebook lending decision. The organization represents national publishers’ associations, which tends to mean big publishers. The organization’s concern seems to be (according to the press release) piracy: ebook lenders would loan ebooks only to crack the DRM and keep the books forever, and not return them to the library.

Two things for the Federation of European Publishers to consider: the same piracy risk is present in all ebooks purchased from bookstores, and it would be a good idea for the organization to get familiar with the ebook lending system in Sweden.

Finally, European Union agrees that ebooks are books

2016-09-19

It is the content that matters. A book is a book regardless of the method you use to read it. A book printed on paper conveys the same ideas, information, excitement and messages as an electronic book enjoyed on a tablet, ereader or smartphone. Now, the European Union agrees with this concept. It means that the VAT for ebooks can be the same as it is for printed books.
kindle page flip video
So far, the VAT for ebooks in EU countries has been higher than for printed books. In some countries paper books don’t have VAT at all, but ebooks may have 15-24% VAT. It is a significant price difference.

France rebelled against the different VAT levels for books and ebooks already in 2013, but EU told France and later Luxembourg that they have to follow the rules. Ebooks were considered electronically supplied services rather than media products because ebooks are being delivered electronically, and there is no physical product. The great project to standardize VAT levels in EU had already started, and media products were part of it. France, Luxembourg and other countries were told to wait for the big VAT reform.

Now, Financial Times reports that Pierre Moscovici, the EU tax commissioner, agreed that ebooks are books. The commission will propose legislation to address the problem during October 2016. National governments will have to approve the initiative after that, but it is difficult to see why any government would want to stop it.

The next interesting story will be the level of VAT for ebooks. Will it be as low as it is for printed books, or will the VAT for paper books be raised to the same higher level than it is for ebooks?

Ebooks are slowly gaining market share in Europe as print books decline

2016-02-14

Ebooks made a quick breakthrough in countries where English is the dominant language after Amazon introduced the Kindle ereading system. From the beginning, Amazon’s ebook selection was huge, and prices were reasonable. In Europe (apart from the UK), the situation is different: ebooks haven’t gained the same status as printed books. Slowly, but surely the situation is changing in Europe as well, because ebook sales is continuously growing and print books are declining.

EU organization European Parliamentary Research Service has drafted a report that looks at the book market in Europe and possible reasons, such as country-specific taxation policies, for the slow development of ebook markets.

eu: ebooks vs print, 2008-2014
Data source: European Commission, Analysis of the media and content industries: The publishing industry. EPRS report “E-Books: Evolving markets and new challenges”.

The statistic sums up only five EU book markets, but (again, apart from the Great Britain) the trend is clear: ebooks are slowly finding readers, whereas printed books are losing readers. In 2014, the market share of ebooks was about 10%.

What is missing in Europe is the quick quantum leap that took ebooks to a new level in the US around 2010 and 2012. Then, ebooks gained 20-30% share of the book market. Recently, ebooks have taken a step back when the big publishers started controlling ebook pricing.

Why the quantum leap hasn’t happened in Europe? There are many small countries and a variety of languages. Many regional publishers have not made their back catalogue available as ebooks at all. It means that the ebook selection in a small language area may only be a couple of thousand titles. Ebook prices can be almost at the same level with print book prices. Poor selection, poor pricing strategy, and little marketing for ebooks.

The attitudes are changing in Europe. EU is examining ways to tax ebook and print books according to the same principles. Ebook selection is growing and big European publishers are reporting big growth numbers for digital products. One of the largest publishers, Bonnier, recently told that its ebook sales increased 69% in 2015 compared to the year before. The total share of ebooks from the sales in 2015 was 10%.

Just a reminder that books are a huge global business compared to other media businesses. With an estimated value of US$151 billion, books have outdistanced music (US$50 billion), video games (US$63 billion), magazines (US$107 billion) and even film and entertainment (US$133 billion).

Eurobarometer ranking 2015: Oslo and Zürich the best European cities to live in, Istanbul the worst

2016-02-06

Is it really possible to measure which city is the best to live in? Perhaps not, but that’s why European Union (European Commission’s Eurobarometer program) asked TNS Opinion to survey residents themselves for their direct opinions how things are in their home cities. More than 40 000 people were interviewed in 83 cities in Europe. The result: ranking of the best and the worst cities to live in Europe in 2015.

The overall satisfaction was the highest in Oslo (Norway) and Zürich (Switzerland). Belfast (Britain), Vilnius (Lithuania), Aalborg (Denmark), Rostock (Germany), Hamburg (Germany), Cardiff (UK), Stockholm (Sweden), and Braga (Portugal) made it to the top 10 as well.
eurobarometer: cities best 2015
The lowest overall satisfaction in own home town was in Istanbul (Turkey). Other cities in the bottom 10 are: Ankara (Turkey), greater Paris (France), Rome (Italy), Marseille (France), Miskolc (Hungary), Napoli (Italy), greater Athens (Greece), Palermo (Italy), and Athens (Greece.)
eurobarometer: cities, worst

eurobarometer: all cities

Ranking of 83 cities by overall satisfaction.


The Eurobarometer survey the “Perception of Quality of Life in European Cities” has been conducted every three years since 2004. In 2015, more than 40,000 people were interviewed in 79 cities and in 4 metropolitan areas (greater cities). In each city, around 500 citizens were interviewed. Residents rated the quality of services, such as education, cultural and sport facilities as well as public transport and administrative services.
You can view the whole 172-page Eurobarometer report here.

We have sampled the key information from the extensive report for travelers who are planning to visit European cities.

Cleanliness tells a lot about a city and its administration. If the streets are clean, it tends to show that residents care about their community and the administration works for the taxpayers. Luxemburg and Oviedo (Spain) take the top spot as the cleanest city.
eurobarometer: clean cities
Italian cities ranked the dirtiest.
eurobarometer: dirty cities

Some travelers want to relax in a safe environment, whereas others look for an adventure. The safest cities as judged by residents themselves are Zürich (Switzerland), Aalborg (Denmark) and Munich (Germany).
eurobarometer: safe cities
If you travel to cities, like Athens (Greece), Istanbul (Turkey) and Sofia (Bulgaria), be aware that even the residents don’t feel all that safe in there.
eurobarometer: not safe cities

Tourists who are looking for cultural experiences might want to consider visiting cities like Vienna (Austria), Zurich (Switzerland) and Helsinki (Finland).
eurobarometer: -cultural cities

Travelers tend to spend a lot of time on city streets, parks and public buildings. The quality of public spaces is considered the highest in Rotterdam (Netherlands), Malmö (Sweden) and Oviedo (Spain).
eurobarometer: public spaces

Top 20 tourist regions in Europe: Spain, France, Italy have the most popular destinations

2016-01-20

Europe is the world’s number one tourist destination, but anyone who has traveled in the culturally rich continent knows how different the countries are. Which countries and which regions exactly are the most visited destinations in Europe? The European Union has vast databases of information on tourism that reveals interesting details where travelers like to spend most of their time.

This particular statistics from EU is calculated from the nights tourists have stayed in hotels, B&B, rental cottages and campgrounds. The number of nights is different than the number of visitors, because the number one destination Canary Islands (Spain) is likely to get at least seven nights per visitor because most travelers fly to the islands and stay there for one or more weeks. That’s why number two destination Ile de France (in practice, Paris) may get more visitors than Canary Islands but since they are likely to stay only a few nights in Paris, the number of nights doesn’t add up to the same level as in the islands.
europe most visited tourist places
Anyhow, the statistics show where tourists really like to spend time (and money), which means there has to be something special in the destination that gets millions of visitors travel there every year. EU has updated the statistics on July 3rd, 2015, but the actual numbers maybe older.

The total number is million nights spent by residents and non-residents in each destination. The blue bar shows the number of nights for hotel accommodation, green for holiday homes and the color of sand for campgrounds.

Top 20 tourist regions of Europe are:

1. Canary Islands, Spain.
2. Ile de France (Paris).
3. Catalonia. The province in Northeast Spain where Barcelona and the Costa Brava are located.
4. Balearic Islands (Mallorca, Ibiza, Menorca).
5. Adriatic Croatia (Jadranska Hrvatska), the coastal region of Croatia.
6. Veneto, Italy. The region around Venice.
7. Provence-Alpes-Cote-d’Azur, France. The region where Nice, Monaco, the French Riviera and the Southernmost Alps in France are located.
8. Andalusia, Spain. The province in southern Spain where, for instance, Sevilla, Malaga and Marbella are located.
9. Rhones-Alpes, France. The high Alps, and the city of Lyon in the valley of Rhone.
10. Inner London, UK.
11. Tuscany, Italy. Florence, Siena and other towns on the rolling hills of Tuscany.
12. Valencia region in Spain. For instance, Benidorm, Alicante and Torrevieja are here.
13. Emila Romagna, Italy. Rimini, San Marino, Bologna, Parma are some of the towns in the region.
14. Tirol, Austria. The province in the high Alps, Innsbruck is the largest town.
15. Languedoc-Roussillon, France. The province is bordered by the Pyrenees and the Mediterranean.
16. Lombardy, Italy. The region where the large lakes of Garda, Lugano and the city Milan meet the Dolomites mountain range.
17. Upper Bavaria, Germany. The region around Munich.
18. Aquitane, France. The province between the Atlantic Ocean and the Pyrenees from Biarritz to Bordeaux.
19. Lazio, Italy. The region around Rome.
20. Bolzano, Italy. The high Alps region in Italy.

If we look at the same statistical data and take into account only foreigners who have stayed in another country, the most popular travel destinations in Europe looks a bit different.
europe most visited tourist places, foreigners
Destinations that rise to the Top 20 when only foreigners are taken into account are: Crete (Greece), South Aegean Sea (Notio Aigaio, Greece), Salzburg (Austria), North Netherlands. Other destinations are the same as in the Total Top 20.

If you want to know where residents like spend their vacation in their own countries, here is a statistics for that as well.
europe most visited tourist places, residents

The Best Up-and-Coming European Fiction Authors 2015

2015-04-15

European Union has established an annual prize to promote European fiction authors who haven’t made a big breakthrough among big audiences yet. The prize, worth 5000 euros, is awarded to 12 authors who live in an EU country or in a number of non-EU countries in Europe. The winners in 2015 represent a great variety of European cultures and languages.

EU literature prize 2015

The European Union Prize for Literature is a joint effort by European book trade. The European Booksellers’ Federation, Writers’ Council, and the Federation of European Publishers all hope to encourage translations for books written in national languages. The winners were nominated by national juries.

The winners in 2015 were:

  • Carolina Schutti (Austria) for Einmal muss ich über weiches Gras gelaufen sein (Once I must have trodden soft grass). Otto Müller Verlag, 2012.
  • Luka Bekavac (Croatia) for Viljevo. Fraktura, 2013.
  • Gaëlle Josse (France) for Le dernier gardien d’Ellis Island (The last guardian of Ellis Island). Editions Noir sur Blanc, 2014.
  • Edina Szvoren (Hungary) for Nincs, és ne is legyen (There Is None, Nor Let There Be). Palatinus, 2012.
  • Donal Ryan (Ireland) for The Spinning Heart (Le cœur qui tourne). Doubleday Ireland, 2013.
  • Lorenzo Amurri (Italy) for Apnea. Fandango Libri, 2013.
  • Undinė Radzevičiūtė (Lithuania) for Žuvys ir drakonai (Fishes and Dragons). Baltos lankos, 2013.
  • Ida Hegazi Høyer (Norway) for Unnskyld (Forgive me). Tiden Norsk Forlag, 2014.
    Magdalena Parys (Poland) for Magik (Magician). Świat Książki, 2014.
  • David Machado (Portugal) for Índice Médio de Felicidade (Average Happiness Index). Dom Quixote, 2013.
  • Svetlana Zuchova (Slovakia) for Obrazy zo života M. (Scenes from the Life of M.). Marenčin PT, 2013.
  • Sara Stridsberg (Sweden) for Beckomberga – ode till min familj (The Gravity of Love). Albert Bonniers Förlag, 2014.
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