Friday, February 17, 2006

Public Lending Right

Things like the Book Lover's Ball (see the next entry) are one of the reasons I love being an author in Canada -- it's hard to imagine a genre-fiction writer being so well treated in the States.

Another thing I love is that my federal government sends me a kickback every February to compensate me for royalties lost through the circulation of my books through public libraries. (Most Western countries do this for their domestic authors, recognizing the principle that it's unfair to tax an author and then use those tax dollars to finance a system that deprives the author of income; the U.S. is a notable exception, in not offering such payments to authors). It's called "The Public Lending Right," and the cheque I got was for $2,873.50, which was the maximum any one author was allowed to receive this year.

The system is based on surveying the card catalogs of seven randomly selected mid-sized libraries. If a specific title of yours is in one of the libraries (regardless of how many copies that library has of that title), you get a "hit" worth (this year) $41.05; if you're in all seven libraries with that title, you get seven times that amount, which is $287.35. You get a half-hit for translated editions. In aggregate, my hits happened to be worth $5,529.46 -- but, as I said, there's a maximum, to keep the most-popular authors from taking all the money out of the pool.

If you're curious about the math of such things, have a look here (a PDF file showing my hit schedule for this year). I was pleased to see that the English editions of every single one of my novels are in every one of the libraries, and even oddball stuff like my small-press essay collection Relativity was in three of the seven libraries searched.

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