PLR - getting paid for library loans

Books into movies how do they decide?


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Brian Clegg

Aug 7, 2014
Swindon, UK
Although US authors sometimes find it puzzling, many European countries have schemes like the UK's PLR (Public Lending Right), which pay authors for loans of their books from libraries.

I have to say, it makes sense to me. It doesn't seem fair that a library can buy a copy of a book and then tens or hundreds of people can read that same copy without the author receiving a penny more. The TV and movie industries, after all, don't allow this - they only licence ordinary DVD copies for personal domestic use, hence that lengthy copyright spiel that tells you aren't allowed to use them elsewhere - and charge a lot more for DVDs that are licensed to be lent out or shown to large audiences.

If you're based in the UK and have a book published with an ISBN you can register it online with PLR (though not many self published books get bought by libraries, so this mostly applies to conventionally published). After that, each year you get a statement of how many loans you had, and (if there were any) a payment. It's not huge - for the last year it was 7.67 p per loan - but it's worth having if you're trying to make a living as an author. (Incidentally, these are projected loans based on a sample of local authorities.)

To give a feel for possible earnings, PLR helpfully publishes an overview of how many authors got paid what (the figure in brackets is last year's number for comparison):

£5,000 - £6,600 298 (281)
£2,500 - £4,999.99 358 (359)
£1,000 - £2,499.99 828 (809)
£500 - £999.99 877 (879)
£100 - £499.99 3,319 (3,336)
£1 - £99.99 16,667 (16,387)

Total Recipients 22,347

Nil or below minimum threshold 17,991 (16,996)

The maximum you can get is £6,600, which went to 202 authors. So, for most it's nothing or pin money - but it's still worth having if it's due to you, and if you have multiple titles, it's really interesting to see which is most popular (mine last year was The Quantum Age) - it's often very different to which do best in the shops.
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Books into movies how do they decide?