During my post last week on royalties and used books stores, there were a couple of comments about royalties and libraries. I had to confess my ignorance. I'm not a librarian so I had no idea if libraries paid royalties. I planned on looking into it more but didn't get around to it. Today on the Smart Bitches/Trashy Novels blog Sarah brought up the topic by expressing her utter amazement that indeed the UK and Canadian libraries do pay royalties. (She expresses this amazement colourfully, if you're sensitive to that don't go looking.) It sparked a hot discussion. The comments are all very interesting.
Being a Canadian, I was curious to know how all this works. A little digging found the Public Lending Rights Commission website. Some facts: The PLR program has been running since 1986, long before my library was computerized. Canada is one of 23 countries that particpate in such a program. Only Canadian citizens or Permanent Residents qualify. There's also a whole list of works that are exempt (cookbooks, magazines). Authors must register their books for the year before a certain date by filling out forms. So the library isn't going to hunt you down and shove money at you. And there is a sliding scale for older books and cap on amount an author can collect (according to Wikipedia). Still, last year the PLR collected just over $9 million dollars last year for authors! Jeez Louise!
There were a lot of 'dogs and cats living together' comments on the SB blog about a program like this in the US, but it seems we've been doing okay with it, at least for the last 20 years anyway. No, we do not pay for library cards. Libraries are open to all. We have plenty of books on our shelves- and computers too. Yes, Canada has a smaller population. And yes, it's darn big. I suppose my taxes pay for this but I'd rather pay for authors than for gold toilet seats.