How the UK library sample affects authors

I write ‘local interest’ books – how does library sampling affect me?

To try to ensure that local interest writers get a fair - albeit occasional - chance to earn PLR we are obliged to move the sample around with a third of the libraries being replaced each year.

If the area where your books are popular is not currently in the PLR sample, they will probably not qualify for a PLR payment. However, as approximately one third of the sample authorities are changed each year, it is likely that you will have the opportunity to qualify for payment at some stage.

My book is self-published – how do I get libraries to buy a copy?

The PLR office does not have any influence over the books which libraries stock. Each library operates their own policy, and stock is either ordered from catalogues (such as the Bookseller) or by their chosen book supplier - based on their community profile. 

If you would like to offer copies of your book(s) for sale, the best advice we can offer is to ensure it has an ISBN (so that it appears in the Bookseller etc). ISBNs can be obtained by contacting the ISBN Agency at the following address:-

ISBN Agency
3rd Floor
Midas House
62 Goldsworth Road
GU21 6LQ

Tel: +44 (0)1483 712 215

Books providing advice regarding self-publishing and marketing will also be available from your local library.

Is it worth offering free copies of my book to libraries?

If you would like to offer free copies of your book(s) to PLR sample libraries, please bear the following in mind:

    • Libraries are not obliged to accept donations and librarians will only take books that they think their customers will want to borrow.
    • They may choose to accept the book and sell it at their next book sale rather than add it to their stock.
    • If they do accept the book, it may not be placed in the central library - it could go to any branch, or even a neighbouring authority that is not in the PLR sample.
    • The PLR sample is not fixed - at least seven authorities are changed each year, so providing free copies is not a “one-off” exercise.
    • The cost of donating copies may well outweigh the payments received from PLR (each estimated loan is only worth a few pence).
    • Simply having copies of books in sample authorities does not guarantee a payment – books need to be sufficiently borrowed to generate a payment.

Can you provide addresses for UK public libraries?

A list of sample libraries is available from the PLR office on request, and also on our website. Addresses of the main library in each authority can be obtained from the following publication; Libraries and Information Services in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland which should be available in your local reference library. PLR only holds the addresses of the administrative headquarters of sample libraries - not the addresses of central branches.

Library information

Information for authors and librarians regarding the PLR library sample

How the UK PLR library sample works

Guidance on the UK library sample, grossing-up loans and how long library authorities stay in the sample

How PLR uses the UK loans information gathered

How PLR uses UK loans data to calculate author payments and publicise the scheme

Information for UK sample library authorities

Information for library authorities participating in the UK PLR sample

Irish PLR

Information about library data collection under the Irish PLR scheme

PLR news stories

UK PLR payments update

1 February 2019

Over 22,000 authors have received a payment through UK PLR

Advisory Committee for PLR - new member

3 December 2018

Writer and translator Daniel Hahn appointed to the PLR Advisory Committee

Most borrowed authors and books in UK libraries

27 July 2018

The latest annual data shows the most borrowed authors and books in UK public libraries during 2016-17

Advisory Committee for PLR - new member

11 June 2018

Writer and illustrator Alexis Deacon appointed to the PLR Advisory Committee

More news stories

PLR case studies

…“The financial support is invaluable – translators don’t always get a royalty so PLR is really precious. Equally important is the symbolic recognition of our stake in a book. While it is taken for granted that an author has a stake in a book it is not always remembered that a translator does too.”…

Daniel Hahn, translator and writer, registered for PLR on the publication of his first translation. He values highly the existence of the built-in PLR share to which all translators are entitled. Having translated 35 books and written several others since 2007, Daniel outlined his career as a translator and how he works.

…“I expected pennies and I got pounds! Quite a few more than I had expected. How many times in somebodies life do you get something for nothing?”…

Audio-book narrator Jeff Harding, registered for his PLR share in an astonishing 658 audio books when the extension of UK PLR to non-print material was first introduced in July 2014. He currently has over 700 titles registered. Jeff describes the skills of narration and explains what PLR means to him.

…Tracy Chevalier, Alexis Deacon and S F Said tells us why it is important that contributors register for PLR, how easy it is to apply and the value of PLR to them.…

Watch our short video in which authors Tracy Chevalier and S F Said and writer / illustrator Alexis Deacon talk about why eligible contributors should register for payment through the government-funded PLR scheme.