ROME. – For the author of a book on lockdown life in Rome, it’s a 10-minute walk from his writing desk to his local bookshop.
It’s taking as many weeks for the Almost Corner Bookshop, tucked away not quite on the corner of one of Trastevere’s narrow, cobbled streets, to cut through Brexit red tape and procure a copy.
“The Rome Plague Diaries: Lockdown Life in the Eternal City” by Matthew Kneale, published by London-based Atlantic Books in February, was available for shipment from January, just after Britain left the European single market.
But Anita Ross, the manager of the Almost Corner English-language bookshop, said the wait for an EORI – or Economic Operators Registration and Identification – now required means she has yet to receive it.
She also expects extra costs of around 800 euros ($950) on a 200 kg consignment of various books when it arrives, possibly next week.
The ironies are not lost on British-born Kneale, who has lived in Rome for nearly two decades.
“It’s hard to believe, but thanks to Brexit, Britain is now far outdoing Italy with Byzantine bureaucratic complexity, at least when it comes to trade with neighbours,” he told Reuters.
His local bookshop’s difficulties are shared by others struggling to disentangle Brexit and pandemic complications.
“Brexit is affecting the speed of delivering books to Europe in terms of shipping, and there is confusion over whether books are now subject to duties, but the overall picture is being obscured by the impact of COVID,” Atlantic Books said.
Stephen Lotinga, chief executive of the Publishers Association, said the British industry faced additional paperwork and costs and the need for legal advice on complex new rules.
“Nearly 60% of the UK publishing industry’s income comes from exports, with Europe being the largest export market,” he said. “It’s essential for the industry’s future success that publishers can export easily.”
The British government, queried by Reuters, said it would “ensure businesses get the support they need to trade effectively with Europe”.