What A Bubbling Cauldron is VAT

VAT stands for Value Added Tax. It might as well stand for Very Aggravated & Ticked-off. On the whole, I’d much rather be tending an indigo vat than talking taxes right now. But on January 1, new rules go into effect in the European Union that effect me, an independent artist and writer in rural northern Wisconsin in the U.S. (Sorry — it’s hard to take a suitably serious selfie when my husband is making kissy noises.)

Donna & Bill Kallner celebrate winter in rural northern Wisconsin.

Starting January 1, people who sell digital products to buyers in the European Union are expected to collect and pay VAT based on and to the buyer’s country, not the seller’s. So even though I’m in the US, I’ll be liable for the VAT — which varies by EU member country — in each and every country of residence for buyers of the ebooks, PDFs and online classes I sell as digital downloads on Etsy. There is no threshold for reporting, so there’s no such thing as “too small” to file VAT. And the documentation requirements for proving the buyer’s location are onerous. Etsy say they’re working on this issue, but for now anyway I can’t count on them to make my compliance simple.
Etsy listings for New Age Looping online courses and ebooks.Etsy has been a great way for me to get found by a global group of people interested in looping, so I don’t want to leave the platform. And I don’t want to break the law, even though many people say it’s unenforceable. (If you want others to obey the laws in your country, you make every effort to obey the laws in theirs.) I could register with a VAT MOSS (mini one-stop shop) in an English-speaking EU country and just do quarterly reports there, to be dispersed to any of the 28 EU member nations to whom VAT is owed for that period. But since I’m not able to meet the data collection requirements, that seems pointless.

A lot of small ebook and pattern sellers are wondering whether to remove their products from the marketplace, break the law, or make do with alternative delivery methods. I decided to go with alternative delivery methods. The research I did indicates that as long as the services you offer have “more than minimal human involvement,” i.e. they are not primarily automated, they are not considered e-services so are exempt from VAT (at least for now). So I’ve added new Etsy listings for EU buyers of my ebooks and online courses. Those listings are now classified as “physical items” and will be delivered via email instead of as Etsy digital downloads. I’m hoping the file sizes are lean enough to deliver without headaches on either end of the transaction.
Looping online classes and ebooks for buyers in the European Union.I’m keeping my fingers crossed that my EU customers use the EU listings, and buyers in the rest of the world use the listings that let them get their purchases immediately as digital downloads via Etsy.Comply (or at least try) and move on: That’s my intention. All the new listings are now live on Etsy. And as the clock ticks down to the end of 2014, I hope my ducks are mostly in a row for now. At some point, I hope Etsy and/or the EU find some room for the realities of small sellers in regulations intended to keep large sellers (like Amazon) from evading taxes. So I’m viewing this as a work-in-progress and subject to change.

But in the meantime, I intend to start the new year with bubbling cauldrons of natural dye and do some stitching, which is always Very Agreeable Time.

Slow Progress Is Still Progress

In some ways, the job of converting my print book New Age Looping for e-readers has felt like remodeling an old farmhouse: You sort of know what you want to do, but every time you started something there turns out to be six things you need to learn first. Then you realize you’ve done two of them totally wrong, and have to re-do them. And along the way you learn something you could do that would make the whole project soooo much better, so you have to back up four steps to incorporate it.

New Age Looping Skipped Stitch Patterns ebook by Donna Kallner
It’s been slow progress this week. But I’m proud to say I now have one small, modest e-book that should work on most e-reader platforms.

E-book on Galaxy tablet.

It’s a far cry from having the whole book converted, but it’s progress. New Age Looping: Skipped Stitch Patterns is adapted from a chapter in the print book. Last spring, when I was trying to figure out e-book formatting on my own, I excerpted it to Smashwords. The auto-vetter identified a number of problems that I kept meaning to fix but didn’t know how (insert remodeling analogy of your choice here). With the help of the online class I’m taking, I’ve been able to resolve most of those problems and tackle the big one.

Getting illustrations to work across e-reader platforms -- sucess at last.

The big one is getting instructional illustrations to work across so many e-reader platforms (Kindle, Nook, tablets, phones, PDFs, and who knows what else will be in common use the day after tomorrow). It might be easier to follow my sister’s advice and switch to writing bodice rippers, except I know more about bodice construction than plot pacing and character development. With text-only books, the copy flows from beginning to end with a chapter break here and there. But for books someone is going to use to learn from text plus illustrations? Well, the formatting is pretty important.

So now I’m in the process of reformatting every single illustration from my print book. This is as much fun as tearing out old polystyrene bead insulation. And I’m breaking the book into at least two segments to keep them within recommended file size limits. This one really hurts, because I wrote the book to present a progression of techniques that build on each other. So that one feels like kind of like this:

Burning down our old farmhouse as a fire department training exercise.

That picture is from 2002, when the local fire departments burned our old farmhouse as a training exercise after our new house was built. After the burn, we planted willow beds on that site and they thrive there.Hopefully, when I get all the formatting and tweaking and fussing done on these e-book editions, no one but me will even care that once upon a time this was here and that was there. It will all just work.
And then? The instructor says that in the last class we’re going to learn about building apps. I’m intrigued. What do you think?

Silent Film Fun

Carmel Myers cuff from Moving Pictures e-book by Donna Kallner

Here’s a little treat for the students in my Moving Pictures classes last week at Bead & Button, and fans of my Moving Pictures image transfer jewelry e-book: Last week the New York Times reported on a treasure trove of American silent films found in New Zealand. There’s more information about the repatriation of the New Zealand collection at the National Film Preservation Foundation web site, where you can also watch some short clips from the era including a trailer for Australian release of The Sin Woman, a couple of short documentaries, a newsreel, and an animated cartoon.

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Image Transfer Jewelry: The E-books

For a while now, I’ve been wanting to find more ways to present some of the material I teach. I love teaching, and my students have a great time learning techniques and exploring ideas. But even my most devoted students (bless your hearts) can never take every class I offer. So now I’m offering some of my classes as e-books. The first three are online at Scribd.com.

In Blooming Image Transfers, you’ll learn to create floral jewelry using iron-on image transfers on fabric. The e-book includes 4 full pages of images for you to print on inkjet heat transfer paper, and step-by-step instructions for making pins, necklaces and cuff-style bracelets.

Gifts In A Snap shows you how to make jewelry gifts from T-shirt transfers. This book contains 18 image elements sized for you to print on one sheet of 8-1/2″ x 11″ inkjet heat transfer paper, plus step-by-step instructions on how to turn a transfer into the gift of wearable art.

Moving Pictures also uses image transfers to create wearable art that celebrates the ladies of silent film. The e-book includes 10 printable image elements sized for you to print on two 8-1/2″ x 11″ sheets of inkjet heat transfer paper, plus complete step-by-step instructions for making a cuff-style bracelet. A bonus project shows how to turn your samples into brooches.

The e-books are $9.95 each. Free preview pages let you know exactly what materials are needed to complete the projects before you buy the e-book. You can sign into Scribd with just your Facebook account, or join Scribd (it’s free), and pay with a credit card. Once you purchase a title, you can view it online or download the document as a PDF. I’ve set things up so there’s a printer-friendly summary page, so you can print just that to keep with your WIP (along with the images you’ll print on inkjet heat transfer paper).

The best part of a class is always seeing how different students interpret the material. I hope you’ll send in pictures of pieces you make from these projects and allow me to post them here. You can email JPG images to me at donnastitches[at]gmail[dot]com.

Stay tuned as I add more e-books in the months ahead. And let me know if there’s a title you want moved to the top of my to-do list!

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