The Society of Authors has a petition to ask the Department for Culture, Media and Sport not to cut the Public Lending Right (which gives writers sixpence every time one of their books is taken out of a library) in next month’s Spending Review. ‘Any and all writers who feel strongly about this subject’ should sign it, they say. Is it too much to hope that a few readers might care about PLR too? Anyway, the ‘Statement by Authors’ is as follows and writers can sign it here:
The Public Lending Right scheme, under which authors receive 6p when a book is borrowed from a public library, is funded by the Department for Culture Media and Sport. Over the last three years, while public spending has been buoyant, PLR’s allocation has fallen by 3%: over 10% in real terms.
While accepting that DCMS has been instructed to reduce its budget, we ask the Secretary of State, Jeremy Hunt, to recognise that the £7.5m spent on PLR gives effect to a legal right and is not a subsidy. It provides working writers with a modest income when their books are read by library users free of charge. PLR is particularly important to authors whose books are sold mainly to libraries and to those whose books are no longer in print but are still being used.
Press coverage tends to focus on a few successful authors, yet most struggle to make ends meet. PLR provides a significant and much-valued part of authors’ incomes. The £6,600 upper limit ensures that the fund helps those most in need.
The admirably efficient PLR Office has already cut its running costs very substantially. Any reduction in PLR will have an immediate and detrimental effect on the ‘front line’ payments to authors.