To qualify you have to register your books with www.plr.uk.com. Signing up doesn’t cost a penny. Payments are made on an annual basis, based on loans data supplied from a sample of public libraries in the UK. There is a minimum threshold of £1, up to a maximum of £6,000. Out of more than 23,000 recipients, only 313 authors received more than £5,000, and more than 16,000 authors did not meet the £1 threshold. The vast majority of recipients received less than £100. Your PLR rights carry on for the rest of your life after you have registed, and for your estate or descendants for 70 years after your death.
Over 23,000 writers, illustrators, photographers, translators and editors who have contributed to books lent out by public libraries in the UK receive PLR payments each year. But compare that 23,000 to the amount of books published, and it seems that there are plenty of authors unaware that Public Lending Right exists! It might not seem like much, but it’s money that you are entitled to for your hard work, and it doesn’t cost you anything to apply for it.
You can also register for other payments for use of your work from the Authors Licensing and Collecting Society. For a one-off joining fee of £25 – deducted from any future royalties – you can collect payment for various secondary uses of your work, such as photocopying, scanning and digital transmission, and also foreign public lending rights from Austria, Holland, Belgium, France, Spain, Germany, Estonia and Ireland.
It might not work out at much, but if you’re entitled to it then why not? It’s just recognition for the contribution that writers make to public culture. It’s hard enough trying to make it as an author – only people like Anthony Beevor or Max Hastings are making millions – so anything that you can get to cover your costs can’t be a bad thing.
- Authors face royalty threat from volunteer libraries (guardian.co.uk)
- Sarah Waters among authors threatening action over ‘Big Society’ lending libraries (telegraph.co.uk)
- Public Lending Right inquiry was rigged from the start (guardian.co.uk)
- Authors demand royalties from library ebook lending (rawstory.com)
- E-book lending: Library’s best secret? (wcpo.com)
- Keep Public Lending Right’s excellent office in Stockton-on-Tees (guardian.co.uk)
- Call to ‘move libraries into 21st century’ sparks ebook lending review (guardian.co.uk)
- E-book lending: Your public library’s best kept secret? (cnn.com)
- One Author’s Pre-Publication “Lending Library” Experience (jwikert.typepad.com)