The British Library Board has proposed an increase in Public Lending Right (PLR) payment made to authors next year, following a decrease in the estimated number of book loans.
The board has recommended the PLR rate should increase from 6.66 pence to 7.67 pence per loan in 2016, a rise of 1.01p, which the department for culture, media and sport (DCMS) intends to accept.
Following the proposal, the Society of Authors c.e.o Nicola Solomon has written to Dominic Lake, deputy director of arts, libraries and cultural property at the DCMS, urging the government to ring-fence the PLR fund and “protect and maintain the library service which is under serious threat.”
Lake said: “The proposed increase has been possible in part due to efficiency savings and increased income, and in part as a result of a reduction in the estimated number of loans of books registered for PLR. The DCMS notes the British Library Board’s recommendation that the 2016 payments are made at an increased rate per loan of 7.67 pence and propose to amend the PLR Scheme accordingly."
Solomon has accepted the recommendation for the increased rate and emphasised the importance of safe-guarding the PLR Fund, while urguing the government to update its plans concerning e-book lending.
“PLR continues to be an important source of earnings for authors and we would urge the government to ring-fence the (already meagre) PLR Fund in any future spending review,” Solomon said. “We are sad to note the decrease in the estimate loans of books registered for PLR, caused, no doubt, by the cuts in library services and the exclusion of some volunteer-run libraries from the scheme. We urge the government to include volunteer-run libraries within the PLR scheme so that true figures for library lending can be recorded and remunerated.”
She went on to say: “We understand that the government is considering plans to bring in PLR payments for remote e-lending. Libraries now remotely lend a significant number of e-books and it is only fair that authors should be remunerated for these. Publishers have been reluctant to ensure that authors receive a fair share of licensing revenues for remote lending. We believe that an author’s receipts from e-book lending should equate to the total earnings the author would have received on a physical copy over the lifetime of the book from the combination of royalties on sale and PLR on every loan. The same considerations apply to the remote lending of digital audiobooks.”
The PLR payment is made to authors by the government each time their books are loaned through the public library system. The amount due to each author is based on a rate per loan, calculated on the basis of the size of the fund available and an estimate of the total number of loans of their registered works, obtained by way of a sample of public libraries in the UK.