The Atlantic Tax

Those who are used to comparing the prices of items on the Internet will have encountered the Atlantic Tax. This is what I call the stunningly large difference in price of almost anything between the US and the UK; on average, I think I could buy any consumer electronics item in the US for a quarter less than I could here. With the dollar as weak as it is now, the tax is at an all-time high. In fact, at the rate it’s going, you won’t need a calculator to work out $/� currency conversions, you’ll just be able to divide by two.

A lesser-known but equally infuriating victim of the Atlantic Tax are magazine subscriptions. Two of the three magazines that I would consider subscribing to – Wired and Scientific American – cost over double here what they do in the US (the third one is The Economist, but that’s printed over here so it’s OK). Granted, Wired and SciAm are printed in the US so you have to consider shipping costs, but can’t these guys figure out some other way of getting their magazines into the hands of European readers? Or at least, if they can’t figure that out, reduce the cost of online subscriptions? Being at Oxford, I can access most journals for free online, but the interface is usually difficult and raises the barrier of entry.

It’s just yet another reason to get those next generation electronic book readers out to market as soon as possible. As for the consumer electronics (and everything else) the only solution is to move to the US, which is a rather more drastic solution than most people would be willing to consider.

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