I still can’t measure the depth of my agog that in the UK and Canada, authors are paid royalties each time their book is borrowed. In the UK, it’s called the Public Lending Right, and authors receive 5.9 pence per borrow, or, about .08 cents US. The maximum an author can earn is £6600, or just under $10,000.00 US. The program is designed to “compensate… authors for the potential loss of sales from their works being available in public libraries,” according to Wikipedia. Not only is it a source of some revenue, but it’s also a confirmation to authors that their book is being borrowed and, one would presume, read.
I’m seriously crapping myself sideways over this idea. I’m just floored. Where does this money come from? According to the PLR website:
PLR is funded by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and in 2007-08 received £7.63 million pounds in grant-in-aid, of which £6.66 million was distributed to authors. Funding for 2008-09 has been set at £7.4 million.
Holy crapping damn! I’m not sure how things are in your world, but here in the NJ/NY area, the news is flooded with reports of Governors Corzine and Paterson cutting budgets with twenty-five foot long hedge trimmers, which is all good and wonderful when you speak of fiscal awareness in broad terms, but when programs you use and need are cut entirely, well, things are going to be set on fire before either state’s budget passes. So I don’t think that it’s even remotely possible even on the Planet What the Fuck that royalty payments might be created for US authors whose books are borrowed from US libraries, especially considering the fight to fund those libraries in the first place. But still: WOW. Double WOW.
Do you think such a model would be possible in the US? (Was that the sound of a librarian somewhere in America hitting her head on the returns cart as she fell over laughing?) Do you enjoy such a payment each year from your country’s public library system?