The Jamaican Book Tax, A Partial Remedy
For those who don’t know. The Government of Jamaica has announced that it will add 16.5% tax on the sale of all books. Today the Book Industry Association of Jamaica warned that the overall new tax package including the added sales tax, could cause the price of text books to increase by 25%.
After much debate online, options to remedy the situation included rolling back the new tax, rejuvenating the National Library Service and pursuing digital distribution of books. I strongly support the digital distribution option, however since we are not quite ready yet I think a more practical means is necessary.
The suggestion of using the Library is a good one, however most don’t loan books on a long term basis (not good for students) and it requires quite a bit of resources.
Being socially minded I think we should look at a social book lending system. To be honest I could prototype one in the time it takes me to write this article, but I prefer sharing ideas first. Measure twice, cut once right?
So here’s the Idea:
Create a website that allows people to share books with each other. For free. It doesn’t really matter which book or the content type. Everything is based on ISBN number of the book (Usually the barcode number). The website will feature two interfaces, books needed, books to donate.
Communication and interaction
Using a channel, whether by tweet, sms (text message) or the website. A user can post on the site that they have a book to donate, they enter their location and the book’s ISBN number. A user can also enter a book they need, their location and book ISBN number. The site will cross reference the two and match people. That’s the simple part.
Ideally, to reduce the carbon footprint of the project, books would be shared within the same town. For security reasons the site would be limited to adults only, so sexual predators do not target our children. Ideally there should be no direct person to person contact though. Additionally I would suggest as a marketing tool for the Book Industry Association of Jamaica, to speak with their members, to have book stores be central drop off and pickup locations.
No I am not crazy, when was the last time you went into a book store? If you had to go into a book store to get a free book, hey! you have made it there. It’s up to them to convert you into a customer.
The concept is pay it forward, you read a book, finished with it? Let someone else read it. Also book stores should allow people to buy new books to be entered in the program, great for individuals and companies who want to help develop Jamaica.
Do I really need to list the benefits?
Would you like to see this developed? Please let me know in the comments below or tweet me @utenjm.