There’s gold in those librariesApril 11th, 2013
Registration for the Public Lending Right has now closed. It reopens on 1 January, 2014.
A pre-Christmas surprise
Just before Christmas many New Zealand authors receive a boost to their income in the shape of a payment from the Public Lending Right for New Zealand Authors fund.
Every year, registered authors get a payment from the $2 million fund, based on how many books are held in New Zealand’s public and tertiary libraries. Last year 1,699 authors received a payment ranging from under $100 to over $35,000.
John Calvert with money, 1950. Ref: 114/165/13-G.
Payments go to those who register
If you’re a New Zealand author, illustrator, or in some cases editor, you should be registered because this payment helps to compensate you for your books being held and enjoyed by New Zealanders in libraries.
Register (or re-register – you’ve got to do it every year) before April 30 to be in the pool. If you have at least 50 copies of your title in libraries, you’ll be included in the payment.
Once registration closes, we survey public and tertiary libraries around the country to estimate the number of copies of your title they have. The $2 million fund is then divided by the number of copies of books by registered authors, which gives a rate per book. Each author receives an amount based on the number of copies they have, multiplied by the book rate.
Registration then reopens on January 1, and the cycle begins again. This year we’re developing a new survey instrument with the help of Statistics New Zealand, making the survey more flexible.
A longstanding scheme that’s changing
Celebrating 40 years in existence this year, PLR (formerly called the Authors’ Fund) is well-established, having been around since 1973, when it was administered by the QEII Arts Council.
It has since been administered by the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) and Creative New Zealand, and is now looked after by us at the National Library, part of DIA.
(By comparison, the UK’s PLR scheme is only being brought into the British Library this coming October, after years as a small independent office in Stockton.)
The rewards to authors who register with the fund can be considerable. Earnings are not capped and the fund is divided on the number of titles which are held in libraries. Since today’s libraries are about providing what their patrons are after, if your book meets readers’ needs it will be purchased for library collections, and you’ll be paid accordingly.
We are always watching the trends in publishing, in particular the emergence of electronic publishing. For now the Public Lending Right does not include electronic books, but the PLR Advisory Committee will be considering if and how to include them as their use in libraries increases.