Bookbarn to pay author royalties for used book sales

Bookbarn to pay author royalties for used book sales

Secondhand book retailer Bookbarn International (BBI) and the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS) have launched a pilot programme which will see authors paid for the sales of used books.

The Book Author Resale Right will mean authors get paid a percentage of the net profit made selling their books secondhand. At the moment Somerset-based BBI is the only retailer involved in the scheme, which was proposed by the company’s m.d. William Pryor, but it is hoped more will join in the future.

The scheme was announced at the All Party Parliamentary Group summer reception at the House of Commons yesterday (10th June).

Pryor said: “Digital sales have been eating into sales of physical, but they have enabled growth of the global second hand book market. Until now no writer has benefited from the resale of their books. As a published writer myself this has niggled at me.”

Pryor last year approached ALCS, which collects fees on behalf of writers, about a resale right scheme based on the Artists Resale Right, which was introduced in the UK in 2006. BBI will send a list of books it has sold to ALCS every quarter, and ALCS will match the list with the authors in its database. The list will then be sent back to BBI, who will pay an agreed royalty. The royalty level has not yet been disclosed.

“It won’t be much but it will be a start,” said Pryor, who told The Bookseller that it was “outrageous” that writers were not getting anything for the resale of their work, when those in other creative industries, such as music and art, did.

Nicola Solomon, chief executive of the Society of Authors, told The Bookseller: “It is great if they’ll pay a royalty for secondhand books. It is very helpful for authors because the secondhand book market can be undermining for authors, particularly with charity shops. It can undercut sales of new stock.”

She added that “it would be nice if Amazon could put together some kind of fund” for authors for the resale of books [via its third party marketplace].

Owen Atkinson, c.e.o. of ALCS, said: “We are very happy to play our part in bringing the Book Author Resale Right to life and feel this is a very positive step in ensuring authors are duly compensated for the ongoing use of their works.”

BBI currently owns and stores 800,000 books, of which around 250,000 are antiquarian, rare or collectable. It has a retail operation on site in Somerset, where it sells 200,000 books at £1 each, and lists its catalogue on 18 e-commerce sites around the world, including AbeBooks, a subsidiary of Amazon.com.

The company has also launched a crowdfunding initiative, aiming to raise £75,000 to help it invest in its business. It has so far raised more than £32,000. Pryor said: "The crowd funding initiative is to allow us to buy more stock and grow the business – more hardware and more software.” He added that it fitted the business "so well because it’s about the love of books”, and would allow book fans to get involved with the company.