January 8th, 2007

International Kittens of Mystery

Library Stats

I received my first ever PLR payment over the weekend and with the statement came some very interesting stats on book borrowing at UK libraries.

There were 330 million books borrowed from UK libraries between 1st July, 2005 and 30th June, 2006. A drop of 11 million on the previous year.

Why do PLR gather these stats? To pay authors, of course - a very worthy cause:) They calculate how many books have been borrowed that period, divide that into how much money the government has allocated them and come up with a 'rate per loan.' This year it comes to 5.98 pence. Which means that every time someone borrows a book from a UK library, the author (if they're registered) gets 5.98 pence.

To be registered the author has to be a UK or, I believe, a Commonwealth citizen. There are 21 countries that have similar systems to help their authors.

So how much did I get? Well, I'd been expecting about £1.50 as most libraries didn't stock Resonance until the late spring. But I was wrong. I received the heady sum of £20.21 for 338 loans. Which bodes well for future years.

To put that amount in proportion 10,385 authors received nothing as their payment amounted to less than £1, and 286 authors received the maximum allowed - £6,600. That's 286 authors each with over 110,000 loans in one year.

Which gives the following nifty table showing the number of authors in the various bands:

Loans                                   Authors

110,367+                                  286
83,613 - 110,367                        77
41,807 - 83,612                        397
16,723 - 41,806                        788
8,362 - 16,722                          922
1,673 - 8,361                         3,661
17 - 1,672                             17,738
<17                                       10,386

Even though the bands aren't equally spaced you can see that the average author has his or her books borrowed about 500 times. And note the skewed nature of the table. Most books borrowed are from a small group of popular authors.

It's also interesting to note that, according to PLR, some of the most popular 'library' authors are not the bestselling authors in the shops. Over half the authors interviewed said the PLR payment represented a very significant part of their income. The largest group of these were the mid-list genre fiction writers (particularly crime and romance) and the retired authors.