The Booksellers Association has called for “a seat at the table” of culture minister Ed Vaizey’s review into e-book lending in libraries, while warning against the government using e-book loan payments as a “stealth revenue”.
The BA’s chief executive Tim Godfray said that while he supported the proposals made by Justin Tomlinson, chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Libraries, that e-book lending should only be possible by a physical visit to a library, he said the money received on charging a library user to loan an e-book should be pumped back into buying more books.
Godfray also said the views of booksellers should be represented in the cross-industry review into e-book lending, as the practice could damage booksellers.
Godfray said: “The BA has campaigned for several years to mitigate the potential damage that library e-book lending could have on our book retailing sector. We do have concerns, however, over Mr Tomlinson’s suggestion that e-book lending revenue should be used to finance a variety of library services, as revenue generated from any library book lending should in our view fund the purchase of future books.
"We must be vigilant that the government is not seeking to create a stealth revenue to underwrite what has always been the public funding of libraries. To ensure that booksellers continue to be fully represented within the Vaizey Review of E-book Lending, I have requested that the BA be given a seat at the table.”
The Department of Culture, Media and Sport has recently updated its advice on PLR payments in volunteer-run libraries after claims it wasn’t giving clear instruction to local councils on how whether and how it should be paid.
The DCMS has now said it will “decide after careful consideration, on a case-by-case basis,” whether any particular library falls within the statutory public library service. The department added: “If a library falls within the PLR scheme loans of books from those libraries will be relevant for the calculation of PLR payments to authors by the Registrar. Therefore depending on the individual facts of a case, it is possible for a community-supported library to form part of a library authority’s statutory provision, in which case it falls within the PLR scheme; or alternatively on different facts a community-managed library may fall entirely outside of an authority’s statutory provision.”
However the Society of Author’s general secretary Nicola Solomon has written to Vaizey for the second time demanding answers after she felt he failed to address her original questions. Solomon has asked Vaizey to assure her the government fund for PLR payments to author will not be reduced further. She has also reiterated her calls for authors to be paid PLR on e-book loans, as it is bound to do under section 43 of the Digital Economy Act.