Monday, July 21, 2008

I'm Going to Get In Trouble For This

I forget where I read it but it was a couple of years ago. A group of writers wanted libraries to charge fees for borrowing their work.

I kind of half agree with this.

A book can take hundreds, if not thousands of hours to write and very few writers ever make more than a pittance. The JK Rawlings, Stephen Kings, etc are amongst the very few exceptions.

A writer's royalties will vary from 5 to 25% depending on their contract with the publishers with most averaging to the lower end of the scale. If you get a 10% royalty and your initial run is 10000 paperbacks at about $6.99 each and you sell all of them (a rare event as most first time writers find their books being remaindered) you will make about $7000. If the book took you 1000 hours to write and get published, you made less than minimum wage.

When a book is checked out of a library for free the writer gets only the initial royalty for the copy that is sold to the library. People are using and enjoying their work and not paying for it.

Here's what the above mentioned group wanted to do. Charge a modest fee for library books in which the writer is still alive, and the fee varies with the age of the book.

My suggestion
A book less than 2 years old $1.00
A book 2-5 years old $.75
A book 5-10 years old fifty cents
A book 10-20 years old a quarter.
Over 20 years old would mean no fee.

The fee would be split up with 20% going to the library, 5% being a fee to handle the money, and the remaining 75% would go to the publisher and the writer, divided between them by agreement. If no agreement exists then the split would be equal shares.


Blogger Mark said...

I could agree with this, writers do need to realize the value of exposure which they get at a library. people will find authors works in the library, decide they like them, then not wait for the library when the new book comes out, they will go buy it. but the rates you list are quite reasonable, so yeah, why not?

1:45 PM  
Blogger Bloviating Zeppelin said...

Hmm. Perhaps. But I do my ultimate part to actually SUPPORT writers: I primarily BUY my books, both fiction and non-fiction. I haven't been to library since I was in high school.


3:43 PM  
Blogger Bloviating Zeppelin said...

Sorry. Make that college. I forgot many plodding hours at a work table.


3:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My home library is almost as good as the one at the Bible College I attended, and I generally only check out a book from the Public Library to see if I want to buy it for my own or not.

I do like your fee schedule, though.

6:32 PM  
Blogger Z said...

I think about kids who really can't afford the books and might not be able to read them at all if this was enacted, but I sure do see your point.

I KNOW most adults would certainly pay a pittance compared to $24.95 for a hardback. I do try to buy the books I read because I love having them and loaning them out.

Hey, could I charge, too? (smile!)

12:04 PM  
Blogger shoprat said...

Z Excellent point but then, most of the good books for children are more than 20 years old. Yeah you could charge if you sent the money to the writer ;-D

A&C My library isn't growing as fast as it should but it was once quite impressive.

BZ You are supporting writers the right way.

mark good point but the writers' objection still stands.

12:25 PM  
Blogger KurtP said...

So who's going to pay this fee?
I'm already supporting the librabry with my taxes.

You want me to pay for the book and then pay for the priviledge of erading it, too?

Sure am glad I have a Half-Price Books store in San Antonio.

9:14 PM  
Blogger shoprat said...

KP It's not about the library getting money, it's about the writer being paid for the work he did. Like I said early on, I half agree with it because it is a valid point.

9:20 PM  

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