The Independent reports that some of the most distinguished names in British literature attended a crisis meeting called by the Authors' Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS) at the British Library to discuss the plummeting income of authors and the copyright issues that threaten to make it worse. "Some raged against Google's plans to make whole books available online for free. The poet Wendy Cope lamented the ease with which you can download her own works and those of other poets for free."<br /><br />But most were there to discuss authors' dwindling incomes: when you take away the superstar authors who are earning shedloads, the actual figure for the rest is closer to £4,000. "That's less than it was last time anyone looked, seven years ago, and far less than the distant days when the Net Book Agreement kept prices high. Forget living on baked beans in a garrett; this is barely enough to buy stale bread and a tarpaulin for shelter. And it is only for the lucky ones: fewer authors are being signed up unless they're famous, advances are shrinking, and those who sell only moderately well are dropped, ending careers early."