The Public Lending Right (PLR) payment made to authors by government each time their books are loaned through the public library system has dropped for the second year running.
Authors hearing news this week of PLR payments for loans made during the year from July 2010 to June 2011 learned that the rate per loan has dropped to 6.05 pence, down from 6.25 pence in 2009-2010, and 6.29 pence the year before (2008-9).
Jim Parker, PLR registrar, said the drop was the result of the 15% cut to funding made by the government across the next four years. The pot of money backing the PLR payments drops from £7.22m in 2011-2012 to £6.96m in 2014-15.
Adult fiction authors would be the most likely to notice a drop in their total annual PLR payment because of the fall in the number of loans of their books through the public library system as well, Parker said. Overall library loans dropped 2.9% to 300.2m in the year 2010-2011, down from 309m the year before. However payments to children's authors are likely to have held steady because loans of their books grew marginally to 96.9m last year.
Author Alan Gibbons commented that he was "not happy with the steady erosion of the amounts over the years", while Paul Magrs said his PLR earnings had dropped 30% in two years, calling it "a drop in the ocean to government, surely, but a huge amount for authors." Kate Pool, deputy general secretary of the Society of Authors, said: "Authors like everybody else are feeling the pressures of the recession. We have repeatedly made submissions to government departments about the importance of culture, literary, reading and writing skills but government support for writers is very low. The PLR fund is absolutely minute but is value to authors is disproportionately high.
"It really would be a tiny effort on the government's part to fund it properly—and they should be funding libraries properly so that there are books for people to borrow."
The full PLR statistics on author library loans will be published in February.