Every year a wonderful organisation called the Public Lending Right sends 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 nearly six pence per loan. There's also a maximum payment threshold of £6600, to prevent the likes of J K Rowling and other immensely popular authors draining the PLR's coffers.
More than 20,000 authors get payments for the most recent PLR period [July 2007-June 2008], with around 250 getting the maximum amount. I’m a minnow in such matters, but can look forward to a healthy three-figure sum in February. Alas, my new statement is down about 10% from last year, because I didn't have many new titles published and those that did come out weren't big library titles.
All my books from the 1990s are defunct, and titles published in America don't tend to be bought by UK libraries. The first edition of The Complete Inspector Morse has also been retired, but there are two more recent editions still getting borrowed [with a new version coming out next month]. Perhaps the biggest surprise was how few times my 2000 AD history Thrill-Power Overload got borrowed - but it was a £35 book, a big purchase for any library.
Nearly of my tomes were borrowed at least 100 times according to the PLR and two title were taken out more than a thousand times each. My first Fiends novel topped the listings the last two years in succession, but this year gets toppled by... another Fiends novel. Indeed, five of the top six places are occupied by various incarnations of the Fiends thrillers. Here's my top ten tomes for July 2007 - June 2008 (with previous year's placing in brackets):-
1. (-) Fiends of the Rising Sun (published Jul 07)
2. (1) Fiends of the Eastern Front: Operation Vampyr (Oct 05)
3. (2) Fiends of the Eastern Front: The Blood Red Army (Apr 06)
4. (4) Nikolai Dante: Honour Be Damned! (Mar 06)
5. (3) Fiends of the Eastern Front: Twilight of the Dead (Jul 06)
6. (-) Fiends of the Eastern Front: Omnibus edition (Feb 07)
7. (-) A Murder in Marienburg (May 07)
8. (8) I Am The Law: The Judge Dredd Omnibus (Oct 06)
9. (6) Nikolai Dante: Imperial Black (Sep 05)
10. (9) Nikolai Dante: The Strangelove Gambit (Jan 05)
Bubbling under: Doctor Who: The Domino Effect (up from 12th last year), The Complete Inspector Morse 3rd Edition (up from 19th), and Ripped From a Dream: The Nightmare on Elm Street Omnibus (down from 7th).
The Fiends novels represented more than half of all my books published during this period, with my Nikolai Dante romps accounting for nearly one in five of every David Bishop tome borrowed from libraries. Not bad for two series now out of print, especially the Dante books which never sold that well but have acquiring a small cult following. The Fiends novels remain popular, particularly US servicemen, judging by emails I get.
Thanks to everyone of the thousands who borrowed one of my books from a library this past year. I hope you enjoyed the stories I had to tell. Support your local library, it’s a brilliant resource. And thanks to the PLR for finding all this out and disbursing all these funds. It's a nice post-Christmas bonus for me, but for many authors it's their major payday of the year. Long may it continue!