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Old 08-17-2009, 09:06 PM   #1
charlieperry
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Public Lending Right as a model for ebook pricing

I just wrote a blog post about Public Lending Rights and how I think they could serve as a useful model for pricing ebooks.

What you get when you buy an ebook is a lot more akin to what you get when you go to a library than what you get when you go to a bookshop. You can’t lend it to friends, you can’t sell it, you can’t keep it as an ornament on your living room shelf. And yet you can read a library book for free but if you want to read the ebook you have to pay almost as much as, if not more than, you would for the physical book.

The system slightly falls over with the fact that the rates are pitifully low in most countries. Some back of the envelope calculations: The public lending right rate per borrowing in the UK this year was 5.98 pence. When you consider that author royalties are usually at least 5% and books in the UK usually cost at least £5 then at the very least the author is losing out on over 75% of their royalties each time someone borrows a book. And that’s a best case scenario for the author! If their royalty is 10% and the book is retailing at £10 then they’re losing almost 95% of their royalty.

How much would you be willing to pay just to read a book as opposed to own it?
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Old 08-17-2009, 09:11 PM   #2
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Odd. In the US, public libraries are free. You check out a book, you have a week or two to read it, and only if you do not return it in time do you have to pay (usually like a dime or something a day).
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Old 08-17-2009, 11:08 PM   #3
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Odd. In the US, public libraries are free. You check out a book, you have a week or two to read it, and only if you do not return it in time do you have to pay (usually like a dime or something a day).
Yes, it is the same in the UK. Charlieperry's reference was to the Public Lending Right system in the UK whereby all authors (not just British authors) who register get paid a proportion of a fund set up to reimburse them based on the number of times their books were borrowed from UK public libraries in the previous year. Payments last year totalled GBP6.6 million and were limited to GBP6600 maximum; 352 authors received more than GBP5000. Payments were made to 23773 authors in total with another 12158 discovering that they were due less than a pound so actually got nothing. Perhaps they should have set up a roster of friend and family to borrow a book in rotation? 20 loans would have been sufficient.

PLR's website is at:

http://www.plr.uk.com/

The US doesn't appear to have an equivalent; according to Wikipedia 15 countries do, mostly European but also including New Zealand, Australia and Canada.
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Old 08-17-2009, 11:14 PM   #4
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Yeah, in the US, authors only get paid for the sale of the books to the library.
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Old 08-18-2009, 08:56 AM   #5
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...
The US doesn't appear to have an equivalent; according to Wikipedia 15 countries do, mostly European but also including New Zealand, Australia and Canada.
But the models vary. In Denmark the creators of works (authors, translators, photographers, artists, composers) don't get paid based on number of loans, but number of works(*), and the payment is a kind of government grant or support. It's not a reimbursement for possibly lost sales.

(*) Mostly, but also other things.
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Old 08-18-2009, 09:47 AM   #6
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What you get when you buy an ebook is a lot more akin to what you get when you go to a library than what you get when you go to a bookshop. You can’t lend it to friends,
Well, you can lend it to friends. You just have to make sure it is returned to the library on time.
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Old 08-18-2009, 10:04 AM   #7
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Odd. In the US, public libraries are free. You check out a book, you have a week or two to read it, and only if you do not return it in time do you have to pay (usually like a dime or something a day).
What is it that you find odd, Hellmark? The idea that authors should be paid when their books are borrowed from the library?
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Old 08-18-2009, 10:25 AM   #8
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Odd. In the US, public libraries are free. You check out a book, you have a week or two to read it, and only if you do not return it in time do you have to pay (usually like a dime or something a day).
Libraries in the US are not free they are paid for by taxes from the land owners of that city. That is the primary reason why you have to live in that city to open up an account.

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Old 08-18-2009, 10:31 AM   #9
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Odd. In the US, public libraries are free. You check out a book, you have a week or two to read it, and only if you do not return it in time do you have to pay (usually like a dime or something a day).
eBooks from Public Libraries simply time out using DRM so you don't have to return it. And you can even check it out from your home if you have a library card. At least that is the way most work.

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Old 08-18-2009, 11:23 AM   #10
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Libraries in the US are not free they are paid for by taxes from the land owners of that city. That is the primary reason why you have to live in that city to open up an account.
If you want to be that nitpicky, many libraries aren't city run, but often at a county level. I was meaning free as in, no payment needed to check out a book.
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Old 08-18-2009, 11:45 AM   #11
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What is it that you find odd, Hellmark? The idea that authors should be paid when their books are borrowed from the library?
In how many countries are authors actually and directly reimbursed as in Britain?
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Old 08-18-2009, 11:48 AM   #12
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According to post #3 above, 15 countries have a similar system.
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Old 08-18-2009, 11:51 AM   #13
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What is it that you find odd, Hellmark? The idea that authors should be paid when their books are borrowed from the library?
It is just a completely new concept for me. Being from the US, were nothing like that is done, it seems a little strange, much like most things are when you experience them for the first time.
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Old 08-18-2009, 11:53 AM   #14
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It is just a completely new concept for me. Being from the US, were nothing like that is done, it seems a little strange, much like most things are when you experience them for the first time.
I completely agree.
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Old 08-18-2009, 12:03 PM   #15
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According to post #3 above, 15 countries have a similar system.
Look at my earlier post. While creators of works in public libraries do get money in Denmark, it is not, and have never been intended as, a reimbursement. I was wondering if this might not be the case in other places as well.

Edit, added: It's a way of giving government support, like grants.

Last edited by Ea; 08-18-2009 at 12:05 PM.
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