Removal of VAT on books, periodicals sigh of relief for publishing sector

To revive the publishing sector and increase the accessibility of books, magazines and other periodicals, Parliament will be preoccupied this week with drafting and enacting a legislative framework to lift value-added tax on books, magazines and newspapers

During the groundbreaking ceremony for the new Atatürk Culture Center in Istanbul on Sunday, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced that the regular 8 percent value-added tax (VAT) imposed on books, magazines and newspapers will be cut to zero. The news has created a stir among many relevant sectors in Turkey and it is estimated that reducing the VAT to zero will revive a number of sectors in publishing. Parliament is expected to enact a law to regulate the tax reduction on books and periodicals. Some 6,124 items of periodic media were printed in Turkey in 2017, of which around 59.6 percent were journals, according to Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat) data.

Official data further indicate that a total of 1.66 billion items of periodic printed media were circulated in Turkey in 2017, of which more than 90 percent were newspapers.

Approximately 61.2 percent of the journals were national, 33.7 percent were local and 5.1 percent were regional publications.

Commenting on the decision, Sabah newspaper Editor-in-Chief Erdal Şafak was cited by Anadolu Agency (AA) as saying that the VAT removal is a matter related to cost rather than circulation. "With this decision, a big burden will be lifted off our shoulders. I believe that with the decrease of newspaper costs, newspapers will make better quality publications. Quality publishing naturally creates 'better' competition among newspapers," he said.

On the other hand, daily Star newspaper Editor-in-Chief Nuh Albayrak said, for now, he does not know how positive the effect of the VAT removal will be on the newspaper. "The newspaper is naturally dependent on foreign currency because the paper is being imported. This causes newspapers to face a constant threat," he said.

Meanwhile, 83.5 percent of the total circulation of the newspapers was national, followed by local publications with 15.8 percent and regional publications with 0.7 percent, while 81.9 percent of the journals were national, 15.2 percent were local and 2.9 percent were regional publications.

In the said year, 30.4 percent of the newspapers were published weekly, 26 percent were published between two to six days a week, while 15.7 percent were monthly publications. 24.8 percent of the journals, on the other hand, were published monthly, 22.1 percent were quarterly and 16.2 percent were published in a six-month period.

Some 88.7 percent of the annual circulation of the newspapers was daily, 6.9 percent were published in two to six days a week, and 2.3 percent were weekly newspapers, while 59.2 percent of the annual circulation of the journals consisted of monthly publications, followed by weekly journals and annual periodicals with 9.8 percent each.

A total 88.3 percent of the newspapers had political news content, 2 percent were sectoral-vocational and 1.9 percent had local government content, while 18.4 percent of the journals offered sectoral-vocational content, followed by academic content with 13.7 percent and educational-exam content with 7.2 percent.

Around 11.8 percent of the newspapers and 8.4 percent of the journals gave supplements in this period.

In the meantime, TL 444.4 million was paid to official ads in 2017, showing an increase of 4.5 percent, Press Advertising Agency data showed. Meanwhile 2018 data on newspapers and magazines is expected to be published in July.

Publishers all over the country purchased International Standard Book Number's (ISBN), a numeric commercial book identifier intended to be unique, for a total of 60,335 materials, including 58,027 books, 212 electronic books (DVDs, VCDs, CDs), 1,767 web-based electronic books, 26 audiobooks (cassettes, CDs, DVDs) and 303 other items. While the number of materials published by the private sector stood at 55,633, the public sector published 3,190 books. Some 92.2 percent of the publications in 2017 were made by the private sector, 5.3 percent by public and educational institutions and 2.5 percent by nongovernmental organizations.

With regards to the subject, 28.4 percent of the published materials consisted of education, 19.1 percent of adult culture, 16.6 percent of children and young adult, 16.3 percent of adult fiction literature, 13.5 percent of academic and 6.1 percent of faith.

Of the published materials, 91.4 percent were printed in Turkish, 5 percent in English and 3.6 percent in other languages.

The number of education-related publications reached 17,153, with children and young adult publications standing at 10,442. The number of banderoles purchased in publishing, on the other hand, was recorded as 407.7 million in this period.

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