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NEWS UPDATES 30 June 2010

Thai book firms seek tax breaks

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The Thai book market could see double-digit growth if a value-added tax for publishers is waived and there is a tax deduction of 10,000 baht for individuals on book purchases, says the Publishers & Booksellers Association of Thailand (Pubat), reports the Bangkok Post

Economic and political uncertainties have hurt the book market in the past few years and its growth has declined to just a single-digit rate. In 2009, the value of the industry grew only 1 percent to 18 billion baht as the recession curbed local consumption, said Risuan Aramcharoen, the Pubat president.

"We hope the tax incentives will take effect as soon as possible as they will be a key factor to help stimulate the market in the long term and encourage people to buy more books," he said. The government recently asked the Finance Ministry to study incentives for the industry within four months. If the proposals are approved, companies would be allowed to deduct from taxable income twice the amount they spend on books that they donate to charities.

In the first half of this year, the book market expanded by 4-5 percent after the government approved a 315-million-baht budget to buy books for 700 libraries in 700 districts nationwide. The Pubat forecast that people's purchasing power would pick up in the second half with the end of political violence. This will help offset the expiry of the government budget for purchases for libraries. As a result, the overall book market could grow by 5% this year.

The association projects the government will have a new budget to buy books for 7,000 tambons in the next three years and this will spur the overall market again, Mr. Risuan said.

Worapan Lokitsataporn, the Pubat vice-president for domestic affairs, said the growth of the book market would depend on distribution channels as well.

In 2009, the number of bookstores increased to 1,900 nationwide, up from around 1,000 in 2007, and the key driver was Book Smile the 7-Eleven convenience store chain. The association expects that the growth of distribution channels will continue over the next three years.

"A big problem for people in rural areas is their limited access to books. However, the government project to add books into 7,000 libraries in 7,000 tambons in the next three years will help them a lot," said Mr Worapan.

The association will stage the Book Festival for Young People 2010 from July 14-18 at the Queen Sirikit National Convention Center. It expects to attract more than 200,000 visitors and

generate sales of 100 million baht, up from 150,000 to 160,000 visitors and 80 million baht in sales last year.

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