Authors to earn royalties on secondhand books in industry first

Authors do not receive a penny from the sale of secondhand editions of their works unlike regular book sales or library borrowing – but a new scheme dreamed up by used booksellers is set to change this for the first time.

William Pryor, founder of Somerset-based used bookseller Bookbarn International, came up with the idea to pay authors royalties on used book sales in 2015, but needed a wider partnership to make it work, reports the Guardian. World of Books Group, which describes itself as the UK’s largest retailer of used books, then got involved to help Pryor create AuthorSHARE, a royalty fund worth £200,000 for the scheme’s first year.

Authors will be paid each time one of their books is bought directly from the World of Books and Bookbarn International websites, up to a cap of £1,000 a year.

The Society of Authors (SoA) and the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS) are supporting AuthorSHARE. Participating retailers will share their sales information with the ALCS, which will match the works with their writer members and pay them their royalties as a lump sum twice a year.

The first payments will be made in October and anything left over from the scheme’s £200,000 fund will then be donated to the SoA’s Authors’ Contingency fund.

Chocolat author and chair of the SoA, Joanne Harris, welcomed the initiative.

“The value of a book goes beyond the value of the paper it is printed on, so it is great to see that original creators will see some benefit when their work finds a new reader. That the scheme has come from a partnership of private companies who simply believe that this is the right thing to do is very reassuring,” said Harris.

“This has been such a financially challenging time for so many authors. Now more than ever, the secondary incomes that come from library borrowing, copying, and now re-selling can all add up to help make a creative career a financially viable one.”

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