Sunday, January 23, 2005


Five Pennies For Your Thoughts

Did you know that British authors get paid 5p every time one of their books is borrowed from a library? I certainly didn't. I really should start reading my royalty statements. But what a splendid idea. Damn it, with all the insane copyright restrictions we have in the US now, why didn't authors at least get one like this that they could take to the bank and have a nice lunch on?

Writing in the Daily Telegraph (reg. req.), Mark Sanderson reports that the latest author payment numbers give an revealing glimpse into the public's reading patterns:

Although fewer registered books have been borrowed – 158 million between July 1, 2003 and June 30, 2004 compared with 169 million during July 2002 to June 2003 – the number of authors receiving the maximum payment of £6,000 has increased from 274 last year to 291 this year. This suggests that fewer authors are being read by more people: in other words best-sellers and prize-winning publications.... The total number of recipients has dropped from 18,763 to 18,686 – and 12,430 of those will receive less than £100.

As noted previously here, a decline in borrowing in Scotland also coincided with many libraries missing their book-buying targets. Hmm. I'm guessing that those missing books weren't yet more copies of The Da Vinci Code. Might British readers be increasingly driven to bestsellers because libraries are giving short shrift to midlist and specialist authors?

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