It took a while to find what has to have been the last government's better ideas the e-petition site but when I did find it I discovered that it had been closed down in the run-up to the general election (6th May 2010) and hasn't re-opened for new petitions.
Just after the election we were told that it would reopen later in 2010 but now here's what you get if you go through the process:
Notice that the date is now 2011 and that no date other than the year is given!
So well done UK Government! You've taken a valuable method of the UK public making their feelings known to government and squashed it! Maybe those petitions were just too inconvenient? So much for your 'big society' policy!
So I can't voice my opinion on the Number 10 petition site. I can however put the details here and the public can voice their opinion by adding comments.
Petition to the UK prime Minister
We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to remove the VAT charge on the sale of electronic books and magazines.
More details from the petition creator
Paper copies of books, newspapers and magazines are subject to a VAT rate of 0%. It is anomalous that electronic copies of these same items are subject to the current standard rate of VAT (20%). The effect of this tax is to make, in many cases, the e-book version of literature more expensive than the paper copy despite being less expensive to produce and requiring almost zero shipping costs.
The manufacture of printed paper products requires thousands of tons of raw materials and an enormous amount of energy in production and transport each year. The public is reluctant to pay more for an electronic copy than for a paper copy. Many look for a less expensive and often 'pirate' source.
By charging VAT on e-publications the government is encouraging piracy, squandering raw materials and adding to fossil fuel use.