Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Library patrons of Australia, I salute you
Sometimes people are a little embarrassed to tell me they've borrowed one of my books from their local library, because they think they're depriving me of income. Other people make a point of telling me they only borrow my books and never buy them, and these are the people I always ensure get the expensive shout when we're a the pub.
But the truth is that those people who think they're cheating me should not worry, and those readers who think they are pulling a swifty on me should eat pooh, because libraries are actually a win-win for writers and readers.
You may not know this, but I, as a writer of books, get an annual payment based on the estimated number of borrowings of my books. And, cheapskates take note, this payment is coming out of YOUR TAXES. HAHAHAHAHAHA.
For all of its sins, the Federal Government operates an excellent little thing called the Public Lending Rights (PLR) scheme. PLR works under the assumption that if a public library offers my books to readers for free then they are depriving me of the stupendous royalites I would have received if those books had been purchased. And, not wanting to infringe copyright, the Government pays authors an allowance to keep us happy.
We're not talking big money here, far from it, but with six novels in print I'm finding that my annual PLR payment is quite a tidy little sum, thank you very much. Today I received my annual statement, for the year 2009-2010, from the PLR people (and the promise of some cash, to be paid into my bank account shortly).
I won't go into the numbers here, but librarians I've spoken to tell me that my books are quite frequently borrowed. A would-be reader from Tasmania told me the other day that all of my books were on-loan from her local library, which was no good for her, as she had gone in search of them, but good for me.
What I can tell you from the PLR statement is which of my books was the most popular with library goers. It is (minor drum roll, please), AFRICAN SKY.
Yes, AFRICAN SKY. I was a bit surprised, too. AFRICAN SKY is my only historical novel (set during WWII) and it tends to polarise readers. It's the one people always want to tell me about, and not always for good reasons. This is the book that people either love most of all, or hate. Nothing in between. It also happens to be the book that is most published overseas. Go figure.
In case you are remotely interested, the order of most borrowed TP books to least is:
1. African Sky
3. Silent Predator
5. Far Horizon.
If you haven't read African Sky, don't worry about trying to borrow it from your local library, as it's probably out. (I did notice a few copies in Target, however, selling for a very reasonable $12.50 a copy).
I almost hate to ask this (given that I really don't care what the answer is, as I like all of my books and don't have a favourite), but do you have a favourite among my books?