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Public Lending Right
by Robert J. Sawyer
First published in the March 1992 issue of Alouette: The Newsletter of the Canadian Region of SFWA
I recently received a cheque from the Federal Government to compensate me for lost royalties on copies of my Golden Fleece borrowed from Canadian public libraries last year, as part of the Public Lending Right program.
Some Canadian SFWAns have been getting similar cheques for years; indeed, at least one of our members has received total PLR payments that now exceed his original advance against royalties on his short story collection.
You can get your share of the money for 1992-93 if your register your titles before May 1st.
The PLR program works like this: once a year, a survey is done of ten randomly chosen mid-sized public libraries located across Canada. For each title of yours for which at least one copy is found in one of these libraries' card catalogs, you get a sum of money. This year, it was $43.25. If that particular book of yours is found in all ten libraries, you get $432.50.
You can register as many titles as you like, but there's an annual per-author payment ceiling of ten times the maximum per-book rate, or $4,325.00. Authors of collaborative novels split the money.
Golden Fleece, a Warner paperback that came out in December 1990, showed up in four out of the ten libraries, so I got $173.00, which is equal to royalties on about five hundred copies. Not too shabby for just filling out a form, although, to be honest, I was surprised that my book showed up that many times I'd been told that many libraries don't bother card-cataloging paperbacks at all.
To register your titles, request PLR first-time registration forms from [updated February 2010]:
Public Lending Right Commission
or get them online here.
In future years, you'll automatically be sent update forms for adding new titles, and more than likely a cheque.
More Good Reading
A 2010 blog post about the Public Lending Right
A 2009 blog post about the Public Lending Right
A 2006 blog post about the Public Lending Right