On April 23 is World Book Day. Each reason to celebrate is good for me and I enjoy. But celebrating a day dedicated to books is even more important to me. Reading is one of my passion, and to this passion I dedicate every day at least one hour. And if one day, I didn’t have time for any reason I will certainly catch up later in the week.
Reading brought me closer to other people, brought me in the society. I learnt most of what I know via reading and listening. Reading allowed me to travel in places I may never be able to go, to meet people I will never meet, because they are not of this world or because may way may not pass theirs. Reading brought me together with other, in one way reading makes me happy.
I am almost blind from birth and so were my parents, brother and now my family. For those who cannot see and thus can not enjoy reading a printed book the available formats have increased in the last ten days. Audio-books are more and more to find in the languages I read, E-books are not bad, Braille, my favourite format is almost non-existent. Yet not always the most recent books are immediately available in alternative formats. However, when this are available the pocket version of a book that is most accessible price wise is not available for me and my pears not able to read a print book, and the E-books are not always accessible even when they exist, my screen reader on the phone or computer does not detect them because they are not made properly. And then the Audio version when this exists is already the price of a book with a nice cardboard cover. Yes, I get a nice book I would say. But did you know that in Belgium my host country an Audio Book will cost me 15% more? Why? Very simple the VAT for a printed book is 6% and the VAT for an Audio Book is 21%. Why, I asked once in a bookshop? Because it is on CD and you pay like for CDs. Is it though my fault that I can’t read the printed version? Why am I punished to pay more for willing to inreach my knowledge and culture? Let me give you a concrete example for a book I’d be interested to by, a novel: the Audio Book on CD costs 23,90, the paper version is 21 75€, the E-book version is 8,45€ and the pocket version is 8,45€.
Each time I buy a book, well I buy more than one because I can’t stop myself not to, I get very angry and frustrated. I pay again more than other people? I feel discriminated. I decided I must do something. Getting angry will not help me. I commit myself not to leave it like this. I need to act. The Audio Books shall at least be taxed in the same way like printed once. I’ll gather information to see how is it for books for children on a CD, do parent also need to pay more for children? Are children and print disabled reacher then the rest of the population? Is this only in Belgium? How are other countries take this? And when I have this information will take further steps in addressing the authorities dealing with VAT, the equality body in my country.
Since I am working at the European Disability Forum, the most important thing I learned is to stand up for the rights of persons with disabilities. So I will do it!
See photos below: