Over on the Guardian Books Blog today, David Barnett is talking about the Public Lending Right award. In Britain, the PLR pays authors according to how often their books are checked out from public libraries. The payment is issued once a year, based on available funding and data submitted by libraries. The minimum payment is £1 and the maximum £6,600.
Writers, take note --- this glorious scheme is not only available in Britain, but in Canada, too. In Canada, however, the PLR is administered in conjunction with the Canada Council for the Arts and it works slightly differently: the payment is not based on how many times your book is checked out, but only on how many registered library catalogues your titles are found in. I have heard rumours of writers going from library to library, "donating" their books with the annual PLR payment in mind, but I suspect the actual cheque amounts to be too paltry for this kind of enterprising to be of much concern. In fact, kudos to them for doing the legwork! I wonder how many authors in Britain are coaxing friends and families to borrow their books from their local libraries?
The Canadian Public Lending Right Commission, like the British one, is also based on "available funding." As you can imagine, amounts have dwindled over the years as arts funding has been cut (boo!) and the amount of eligible Canadian writers has increased (yay!). From what I would guess, a good PLR cheque would be a couple of hundred of dollars. But it also sounds as though they have adopted a sliding scale scheme whereby newly registered books are at a premium, with payments reduced over time, shifting the support of the program to currently working writers.
So registering for the PLR is a must if you are a newly published author! The annual registration period doesn't open until February 15, but you can go to the PLR's website to sign up for a reminder email.