There was an unexpected whisper of optimism at the All Party Parliamentary Writers Group party hosted by Lord Dubs at the House of Lords on 18 June.
Libraries Minister, Ed Vaizey, was not giving anything away but his look held the promise of something good. And that was, we all hoped, an increase in PLR (Public Lending Right) funding which would lead to legislation to extend PLR to e-loans under the 2010 Digital Economy Act . With proper legislation in place, authors and rights holders would be compensated for library loans of audio books and e-books.
None of this would come about without the tireless work of ALCS (Author’s Licensing and Collecting Society) and PLR and the lobbying of authors like Joanna Trollope who talked at the party about the need for all authors to be properly paid for their work, listing the industries that rely on us: publishers, printers, libraries, some of the film industry, wholesalers and distributers to name a few.
I had gone to this party thinking it would be all doom and gloom, what with the recent demise of PLR, but even there, the news was not as bad as we had all feared. Although PLR will be run by the British Library, the Stockton-on- Tees office will remain and all its kind, author- friendly staff will keep their jobs, while the present Registrar, Jim Parker, will oversee a smooth transfer before retirement in a year. We have so much to thank him for. So let's raise a glass to a more hopeful future for the authors of e-books.