Every year a wonderful organisation called the Public Lending Right delivers to registered authors a statement indicating how many times their books have been borrowed from British libraries in recent times. To compensate scribes for the lost sale, the PLR pays out 5.57 pence per loan [roughly 10 cents in American money]. If your total from all your registered titles is less than five pounds sterling, it gets held over. There's a maximum payment threshold of £6000, to prevent the likes of J K Rowling and other immensely popular authors draining the PLR's coffers. In total 18,587 authors are getting payments next month for the last PLR period, with 286 scribes getting the six grand maximum.
Me, I'm a minnow in such matters, but the PLR is nice little bonus when it arrives each year. And the total is creeping up, as I get more and more titles published. Of course, some of my older books are gradually fading from the list - two of my novels from the 1990s got no loans at all, another got a single loan and the other was borrowed four time. The more recent your book, the better condition it will be in and the more likely it is to get borrowed. The bulk of my books are novels, but my non-fiction tomes continue to do well for me. I'm told hardcover books are best for libraries, because the copies last longer. Hopefully the new hardback edition of my Morse reference tome will bear that out when it gets published.
Anyway, here's the top ten of my books for the PLR Year July 04 - June 05 (with previous year's placing in brackets):-
1. (2) Starring Michael Caine (Aug 03)
2. (1) The Complete Inspector Morse (Jun 02)
3. (7) Judge Dredd: Bad Moon Rising (Jun 04)
4. (3) Doctor Who: The Domino Effect (Feb 03)
5. (6) Doctor Who: Empire of Death (Mar 04)
6. (-) Judge Dredd: Kingdom of the Blind (Nov 04)
7. (-) Nikolai Dante: The Strangelove Gambit (Jan 05)
8. (-) A Nightmare of Elm Street: Suffer the Children (May 05)
9. (4) Doctor Who: Amorality Tale (Apr 02)
10. (5) Bright Lights, Baked Ziti: The Sopranos - An Unofficial and Unauthorised Programme Guide (Sep 01)
Being the sort of person who used to examine pop chart trends before I discovered girls, I can't help but notice a few interesting shifts. The three new entries on my personal chart are all for books published during the relevant PLR year. The appearance of my Elm Street novel Suffer the Children is particularly remarkable, as that was only just published in time for inclusion yet it was borrowed nearly 100 times in a few weeks. And it's gratifying to see my first Dante novel do well, as I'm very fond of it and the character.
My book about the films of Michael Caine claims top spot from my well-thumbed Morse guide, but I expect those positions to be reversed in next year's chart when the updated Morse hits the shelves. My next PLR statement will also include two more Dante novels and two Fiends of the Eastern Front novels (with the third Fiends having to wait until my 2008 statement). If you want to know more about the PLR, type www.plr.uk.com into your browser.
Thanks to many, many people who borrowed my books from British libraries last year. Of course, I'd be even happier if you went out and bought a copy too, particuarly if you choose a title for which I receive royalties. But it's gratifying to know somebody, somewhere out there is reading what I write. Long may it continue...