Have you ever heard of Public Lending Right in the UK & Ireland? I hadn’t! It’s the right for authors to get paid (like royalties) when their books are lent out by public libraries.
It boils down to this: A representative sample of libraries (with membership that rotates over time) reports its aggregate lending data each year. Based on that data, payments are sent out for the books that are being borrowed. And it isn’t just for authors — illustrators, translators, editors, and photographers also get paid for their part in the books that people are reading.
I’m thrilled to find this out! In the US, there’s no such payment for library use. The US goes by the first-sale doctrine, in which the library buys the book (and the author and other contributors get royalties for that sale) but after that the library can lend it out indefinitely without further payment. I understand the legal concept behind this doctrine, but I also love that by supporting the UK public library system I’m also directly supporting the people who created the books I’m reading, even if it’s a small amount.
It makes me really glad that I finally got my library card last year and started using our local library. 🙂 I have a good list of books I’d like to read this year, and thanks to the large network of libraries in Wales I should have access to all of them.