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Solomon takes author concerns to Vaizey direct
04.05.12 | Lisa Campbell
The general secretary of the Society of Authors has called for a one-on-one meeting with culture secretary Ed Vaizey to directly address the needs of authors in relation to e-book lending, Public Lending Right (PLR) and privacy, as a new era of volunteer-run libraries presses forward.
Nicola Solomon is seeking assurances that the retail price of e-books will not be undervalued by e-book lending, that the threat of piracy of digital books is addressed and that PLR continues even in volunteer-run libraries.
Her letter, sent yesterday (3rd May), comes after it emerged PLR would not be given to authors in cases where libraries were run by volunteers instead of professionals, a strategy which Vaizey is promoting in areas where local councils are cutting costs by closing institutions.
"We believe that books, whether physical or digital, must be at the core of any library," Solomon said. "Library e-book lending must be sensitively managed and controlled to ensure that it does not compete with e-book purchasing as there may be little for a consumer to choose between the two.
"It is important that consumer perception is managed so that consumers understand that the real cost of creating a book is not its physical form but the creative work of the author in writing the book and the work of the publisher in editing, design, production and marketing."
She added: "Further we must ensure that such lending does not unbalance an already strained book-selling market damaging independent bookshops, which are very important in introducing people to books, supporting culture and literacy and as a showcase."
In the case of PLR, Solomon criticised the slashing of funding for its payment to authors, calling for its earlier value to be reinstated, and for PLR to be paid on e-book lendings as well as physical book lendings.
"We also wish to remind you that section 43 of the Digital Economy Act 2010 extends PLR to audiobooks and e-books lent out from library premises for a limited time and that these payments have never been implemented. This is patently unjust and we urge that this provision be brought into force and that extra funds be made available to cover PLR payments for such lending," she said.
Solomon added the fact that PLR would not be paid where libraries were run by volunteers as "unfair".
"Sales of library e-books by publishers to libraries must be on a basis which fairly remunerates an author for the added usage—and loans must be controlled and limited," she said.