Week 41/19 – week ending 11 October

Bound books will not be included in US tariffs, admits PA 

The United States tariffs on EU exports will not include bound books, the Publishers Association has admitted, after originally branding the move “completely unacceptable”.

On Friday, the UK PA said printed books from the EU were going to be targeted by US tariffs. It has since emerged that the tariff on books from the UK and Germany does not apply to bound printed books, though it will apply to unbound books and some other printed items.

As a result of Thursday’s WTO ruling, the US will slap tariffs on hundreds of EU products, including “printed books, brochures, leaflets and similar printed matter in single sheets, whether or not folded” from Germany and the UK.

The UK PA originally took this to include bound books with Stephen Lotinga, chief executive of the Publishers Association, calling it “completely unacceptable that book exports are collateral damage” in the dispute. Hours later the association later clarified its point around a slimmer definition.

Admitting its error, the PA said that following its pronouncement it had further indication that the tariffs targetted a “slimmer definition around printed matter that doesn’t include printed, bound books”. Nevertheless, the US action and response indicate the febrile atmosphere that now exists in international trade, with Britain’s likely crash out of the European Union at the end of this month adding to the confusion. In its clarification, the PA warned that “the US government can decide to amend the list, adding to or expanding the exact products included within that code prior to implementation”.

In its later statement, the PA noted: “That said, there is the possibility that the US government can decide to amend the list, adding to or expanding the exact products included within that code prior to implementation–so this inclusion is still of concern. We will continue to monitor closely, including any changes to the current product lists and definitions.”

The American Association of Publishers confirmed the tariffs apply to printed matter in single sheets, saying “finished books do not seem to be currently affected.”

The tariffs on $7.5bn of EU exports are the latest clash in a 15-year battle between the US and EU over illegal subsidies for Airbus and US rival Boeing, after the World Trade Organisation (WTO), gave Washington the green light to impose the tariffs as punishment for illegal EU aircraft subsidies.

The US trade representative’s office released a list of hundreds of European products, including Scotch and Irish whiskies, French wine, coffee, cheese and olives, that will be subject to a 25% tariff. The US will slap 10% tariffs on European-made Airbus planes, with the tax to come into effect by 18th October.

In 2018, UK publishers exported printed books worth £128m in invoiced value to North America. The tariffs come after the US imposed tariffs on books from China in an escalating trade war with Beijing, earlier this year.

Ray Ambriano of Meadows Wye & Co., an international logistics company specialising in the publishing industry, told Publishers Weekly that US trade representative’s office’s classification does not apply to bound books.

Amazon launches Kindle for children

Amazon has launched a Kindle for children, in its first ever dedicated reading experience built for youngsters.

Kindle Kids Edition, priced at £99.99, includes the latest Kindle (the Kindle 9) with a six-inch display and software to encourage children to read.

Featuring a parental dashboard, the new e-reader shows what children are reading and how often alongside summaries and talking points from books to boost discussion and engagement. The new edition comes with a child-friendly case, a year’s subscription to Amazon’s Fire for Kids Unlimited and a two-year warranty.

With one year of Fire for Kids Unlimited included with the Kindle Kids Edition, children will have access to more than 1,000 e-books including the complete Harry Potter book series, Millions by Frank Cottrell Boyce and Steven Lenton and The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot. Children will also be able to listen to Audible books via headphones or a Bluetooth speaker soon.

The £99 Kindle also includes features such as achievement badges, a dictionary and vocabulary builder and is available for pre-order now and starts shipping on 30th October.

Eric Saarnio, head of Amazon Devices, EU, said: “Kindle Kids Edition makes reading fun with achievement badges to help motivate readers to complete the next chapter, plus features like Word Wise and Vocabulary Builder are designed to help early readers build their reading and comprehension skills. With unlimited access to over a thousand new and popular books in Fire for Kids Unlimited, kids can easily find books to match their interests and can bring a library of books with them wherever they go—all on a single, lightweight device.”

Amazon has also launched the updated version of its Fire HD 10 tablet (priced at £149.99). A £199.99 Kids Edition will also be available. It includes a Fire HD 10 tablet with 10.1inch  HD display and comes bundled with a year of Amazon Fire for Kids Unlimited, a kid-proof case and a new adjustable stand.

Publishers face admin and cost burden if no-deal Brexit transpires

Publishers face a raft of additional admin measures plus extra costs when managing their exports and imports to and from the European Union in the event of a no-deal Brexit on 31st October, the Publishers Association’s Brexit Forum heard yesterday (10th October).

Customs clearance will be the major challenge immediately facing publishers, with cross-border data flows and trademarks also presenting new issues.

Andrew Hood, partner at law firm Fieldfisher, warned publishers that customs delays may affect urgent deliveries, so they should be finding out how well their freight forwarders are prepared to support them. Obtaining a EORI (Economic Operations Registration and Identification) number will be needed if a company has only ever exported to the EU before.

Christopher Packwood of Geodis Freight Forwarding agreed that publishers should think about their supply chain and talk to suppliers. They should be aware of what constitutes good terms for handling export clearance (in the region of £30; for import clearance, £50), and should be consolidating exports to avoid multiple charges, he said. Some new charges are also to be expected, he warned: “I imagine there may be emergency port charges come November 1st.” Publishers should have their customer service teams standing ready to deal with a surge of queries, Packwood added. “You will get a lot of calls from your haulage companies and freight forwarders.”

Even packaging compliance – the EU requires a certain kind of treated wooden pallets for those who are bringing goods in from an outside country – may cause a problem. “They are ISPM 15 pallets; we’re not sure if there are enough in the UK,” he said.

In the event of a no-deal, the law around data transfers specifically from the EU or EEA into the UK will change; the UK becomes a “third country” and the free flow of data no longer applies. Fieldfisher’s director for technology Eleanor Duhs told publishers  to map their data flows and prioritise the contracts that really matter, then speak to the EU partners involved; they need to sign up to a Standard Contractual Clause which provides data protection for international transfers. Duhs said: “EU businesses are much less aware of these, you are in a position to lead these discussions.”

Neil Ross, policy manager at Tech UK, noted: “Data flows are one of the least well-known issues [related to Brexit] but GDPR fines can be really heavy. Standard Contractual Clauses are really important.”

Roland Mallinson, IP partner at Taylor Wessing, said EU-registered trademarks would transfer automatically to the UK, with an additional prefix added to their existing number. However going forward, publishers will need to renew UK and EU rights separately, with additional costs involved. If a publisher only has a UK right, it will be “irrelevant” for attempting to block a EU right in the event of a dispute, he noted.

Long-term, publishers still face decisions with “huge” implications for the industry as regards what position the UK government takes on the “exhaustion” of rights, which governs territory and sales, the forum heard; the ongoing development of copyright law, as the EU and UK courts interpret it in the months following Brexit could also create “significant complexity.” Meanwhile Mallinson warned: “It will be harder to go after infringements of copyright. If you are sueing in the UK, France and Germany, you will have to instigate multiple actions, which will be more expensive. There will be duplication.”

Throughout the event though there were reminders that a no-deal exit from the EU may not in fact transpire. As Andrew Hood of Fieldfisher put it: “This may be, if we’re lucky as business people, wasted effort.”

The free industry-wide event to help the trade deal with the legal and logistical challenges of a no-deal Brexit was organised after a successful funding application to the Brexit Readiness Fund managed by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

Random House Business to focus on audio in major relaunch

Random House Business (RHB) has announced a major rebrand and relaunch, with plans to expand its frontlist audiobook programme and reissue key backlist titles to catalyse further sales growth.

The relaunch is designed to cement RHB’s position as one of the world’s leading business publishers and capitalise on the booming market for business books in the wake of the Cornerstone imprint experiencing two years of double-digit sales growth, said PRH.

In addition to significantly expanding the frontlist audiobook programme, RHB will bring a raft of previously unavailable audiobooks to a UK/Commonwealth audience for the first time.

Featuring a striking new logo, the relaunch will also see RHB rejacket key books in Random House Business’s back catalogue in a reissue programme.

RHB will also hire a new campaigns executive to work closely with the editorial team to curate events, forge new brand partnerships and oversee campaigns for the imprint.

Publishing Director Nigel Wilcockson said: “We’ve seen unparalleled growth for the business imprint over the past few years. Now is the perfect time to put in place strategies that will get us to the next level.”

RHB is home to many of the world’s most influential thinkers on management, economics and behavioural science, said PRH. The imprint has published frontlist books such as Bruce Daisley’s The Joy of Work, James Clear’s Atomic Habits and Kate Raworth’s Doughnut Economics and has a backlist featuring seminal titles as Jim Collins’ Good to Great and William Ury and Roger Fisher’s Getting to Yes.

The relaunch comes in the wake of a number of new acquisitions for the imprint. In May 2020, RHB will publish No Filter by Bloomberg journalist Sarah Frier, telling the definitive inside story of Instagram. June 2020 sees the publication of Free Lunch Thinking, in which Orwell Prize-winning journalist Tom Bergin offers a radical reappraisal of the modern economy – revealing how much received economic wisdom is deeply harmful to our society. And in July 2020 RHB will publish The World for Sale by Bloomberg’s Javier Blas and Jack Farchy: the full, inside story of how commodity trading operates in the twenty-first century.