Authors only receive 4c per borrowed book as library payments slashed by a third

Funding for payments to authors and illustrators whose books were borrowed from public libraries in the Republic was cut by a third last year.

Authors only receive 4c per borrowed book as library payments slashed by a third

Over €200,000 was paid to writers under the Public Lending Remuneration (PLR) scheme in 2015. The figure is almost €100,000 less than the total paid to authors in 2014, despite the fact there was virtually no change in the number of eligible books loaned at over 5.1m.

Last year, 5,611 writers from 20 countries received payments from the PLR scheme which is funded by the Department of the Environment. The average payment was €35.69 per author compared to €48.33 in 2014.

The rate payable per loan was calculated at 4.09 cent – down from 6.23c in 2014. The UK rate is 6.66 pence (7.45c).

Authors are eligible for payment if their earnings reach a minimum of €2, while there is a maximum payment of €1,000 for the most-borrowed writers.

In Britain, the maximum payment per author is capped at £6,600 — approximately €7,380.

Figures published by the Local Government Management Agency, which oversees the scheme, show a total of €200,272 was paid in 2015.

Fourteen authors received the maximum €1,000 last year compared to 28 in 2014. Some 18,526 authors from 42 countries are registered with the scheme which also contains records of 356,671 titles.

The annual report of the PLR scheme shows almost 1,200 new authors registered last year in addition to over 18,200 new listings of titles.

The vast majority of payments are paid into sterling accounts, indicating many of the recipients are UK-based authors.

Figures published earlier this year revealed copies of the best-selling Diary of a Wimpy Kid series by US author Jeff Kinney topped the list of most borrowed books from Irish libraries last year. The series of books for young adults, which highlights the adventures of schoolboy, Greg Heffley, had seven titles in the top 10 list.

Books by authors for children and young adults dominated the list of borrowings from over 300 public libraries. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Ugly Truth was the most borrowed in Ireland last year, followed by Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Hard Luck.

A book written by Irish comedian, David O’Doherty, and illustrated by Chris Judge, Danger is Everywhere: A Handbook for Avoiding Danger, was the third most borrowed title.

Only two other books beside Kinney’s series had entries in the Top 10: Save Pudding Wood, a children’s story by Roderick Hunt (5thd), and the psychological thriller, The Girl on a Train by Paula Hawkins (7th).

Other authors who feature prominently are Roderick Hunt, Francesca Simon (Horrid Henry), Roger Hargreaves (Mister Men), Enid Blyton, Roald Dahl and JK Rowling. The highest-ranking adult author is in 9th place, US writer, James Patterson, who is best known for his Alex Cross series about a fictional psychologist.

There are over 16m visits to Irish public libraries each year, with over 19m loans of books and non-book materials.

A spokesman for Environment Minister, Simon Coveney, said the budget for any funding issue was largely dependent on the overall budget secured by the department.

“The amount provided for the Public Lending Remuneration scheme in 2015 simply reflects the amount available in the context of competing spending priorities across the department,” he added.

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