In terms of hard cash the figures may not match the multi million pound bonanza of last week’s lottery winners and the truth is they never will as, even for the most successful authors, this carefully and cleverly formed Scheme has adopted the democratic approach of capping top earnings at £6,600 to ensure the money is shared as widely as possible. But, whatever the actual value, for every author and illustrator the 7.67 pence that is handed out for every library loan is much-welcome additional income.
It is also evidence of proper respect for the work of an author or illustrator not just at the point of creation but in perpetuity – or at least until copyright runs out. And behind the pounds and pence lies what authors value even more: the knowledge that their books are being borrowed from the libraries.
Libraries promote and celebrate new books making sure that borrowers have as quick access as possible to the books that readers are buying. Equally importantly, they keep back lists alive stocking titles which may not be readily available in most bookshops. As a result, PLR statements tell authors and illustrators just how popular all their books are which can throw up interesting variations to best-seller lists.
Today authors have been taking to Twitter to express their feelings about PLR and, in some cases, heads have been turned by it: “Totting up my PLR_UK stats for last year, hubby informs me I had ‘nough loans to fill Wembley Stadium’. Rock n roll” a more common response is rather more modest but just as heartfelt; a warm thank you for PLR as part of a general celebration: “Always a special day in the author’s year. PLR keeps pro authors in business & connected with readers”; “There’s just celebration; @PLR_UK statement day today; aka Writers Second Christmas”; “Happy PLR statement day book makers! May the loans be ever in your favour”. And some do that in verse: “#PLR is money for free Oh author, just apply. Hasten, hurry, is my plea. There’s something in my eye.” The payments are also used as a moment to praise the libraries: “Today I send a big thank you to @PLR_UK and the librarians who try to find the right book for each reader.”; “Nice to see more people reading books & using libraries”.
Library borrowing, even as the figures decline, remains strongest for children and children’s authors are vocal in their delight at the thought of all those readers: “There are a lot of authors thinking of all the children who use libraries today & recognising the value of those libraries.”; “Nice thought that my PLR statement includes loans to kids whose families can’t afford books.”; “So happy to find out that 38,500 children took home my non-fiction bks from the libraries last year” and, more personally, “For everyone who borrowed Trouble or Remix from their local library: THANK YOU and thank @PLR_UK”.
Libraries joined in the celebration too with Wakefield Libraries tweeting “Happy @PLR_UK statement day to lovely authors all over the country! Today you find out how much our library customers value your work.”
Head of PLR Policy and Engagement
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Photo credit: Istockphoto.com