Wednesday, 11 February 2009

It's PLR time (fa, la, la)

This is the time when authors in the UK have a little spring in their step, even if spring hasn't managed to shift the snow. It's PLR time. PLR stands for Public Lending Right - it's a nifty little idea to reward authors for books they don't get much income from otherwise: borrowings from libraries.

The idea is simple - the PLR people take a sample from a range of libraries and scale this up for the country. Then on this level of borrowings, they award the author 5.98p per borrowing, up to a maximum of £6,600.

The PLR process provides some interesting statistics. Payments were made to 23,773 authors, while another 12,158 were registered but didn't earn enough to get paid. Of those who did get the dosh the majority - 17,819 were in the bottom £1-100 band. A lonely 232 had so many sales that they hit the maximum limit.

I'm always fascinated that the books that did best in the shops aren't always the ones that have the most borrowings. My best-selling book so far, A Brief History of Infinity does do reasonably well with 585 loans last year, and though I would expect it to be beaten by The Global Warming Survival Kit (966 loans), which hasn't had a chance to catch up on sales yet, it is also hammered by Instant Stress Management (808) and even Instant Interviewing (589), which frankly didn't sell well at all.

If you're an author with books published in the UK and aren't registered for PLR, do it now at their website! It doesn't cost anything, it has the potential to be a little bit of unexpected income (even if it's just at a 'buy an ice-cream' level) - and there's something of a rosy glow to be gained at the thought of those real (if statistical) people taking your book off the shelves in the library.

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