More than 20,000 authors are to receive a share of the £264,000 payout from libraries body Public Lending Right (PLR) following an error in the calculation of PLR annual figures.
The public lending right, or PLR, is the money paid to authors when their books are borrowed from public libraries. The error saw the overall loans figure for the London region underrepresented when calculating the total sample.
Altogether, 22,347 authors were affected by the “manual input error” discovered by the National Audit Office during its routine annual audit.
The PLR is funded by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) through the British Library.
A spokesperson for PLR said: “Following consultation with the Department for Culture Media and Sport and with its approval, authors whose payments are affected will receive an extra payment. Additional loans using the recalculated figures will be paid at 7.67p, the agreed rate per loan for 2014-15."
The extra £264,000 payout will be funded from PLR’s contingency administration budget (£150,000) and British Library reserves (£114,000). The PLR said that this money will not be taken from the 2015-16 UK PLR author fund and will not affect the funding for future years.
The revised payments will be made between 23rd and 30th March 2016.
PLR has apologised for the error, saying: “We are putting measures in place including additional audit checks and system enhancements to ensure that this error will not happen again.”
Nicola Solomon, chief executive of the Society of Authors, told The Guardian: “We are sorry to hear of this error but congratulate the PLR office on its swift and effective action in putting it right.”
She said that the PLR “provides a significant and much-valued part of many authors’ incomes” and is “particularly important to authors whose books are sold mainly to libraries and to those whose books are no longer in print but are still being read.”
She added: “The 2016 rate per loan calculation was 7.67 pence per loan, a significant rise from the 6.66 pence paid in 2015. It now seems that figure may have been wrongly calculated, meaning that effectively, all authors will receive a modest overpayment. We are grateful for the acknowledgment that there will be no attempt to recoup that money from authors. We know that this was a manual error – and that errors can happen. We do urge the government to ensure that PLR remains properly funded in relation to both administration and payment.”
Currently the PLR only covers printed books, but the Society of Authors is calling for it to be extended to e-books.