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Do Authors Get Paid For Library Books (How Does A Library Pay Royalties)?

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If you are an author or a reader, you may have wondered whether or not authors get paid for their books being featured in a library.

The way authors are paid for their books being featured in a library is slightly different to when their book is purchased by a reader. While it is fairly straightforward, there are some laws surrounding it. 

In this article, I will be discussing whether authors are paid, and how they receive royalties from libraries. I will also be covering the laws surrounding this. 

How Libraries Work

A public library allows the public to have access to books, papers, and research materials. It is a publicly owned and funded organization. The money used for funding is typically taken from taxes.

While each library is different, they typically have a borrowing system, which allows members to borrow a certain number of books. They are then given a period of time to borrow the book, and the person will have to renew or return the books after this time. 

Given that in the vast majority of cases, libraries are free, and a person incurs no cost when borrowing a book, this leaves both readers and authors questioning how authors receive payments for their books. 

How Authors Get Paid For Library Books

It is important to note that authors do receive a payment when their book is featured in a library. While the payment for a book featured in a library is often lower than people purchasing a book, the author does still receive some payback.

When a library purchases an author’s book, the author will receive a standard royalty, in the same way as they would when a person purchases their book. For books that prove to be particularly popular, often, libraries will purchase multiple copies of the book to keep up with demand. The author will receive a royalty for every book that is purchased. 

Even so, when you take into consideration that one copy of the book may be read by hundreds of people, the singular purchase from a library does not reflect this. While a library is fantastic, for authors, this can be disheartening if they are only receiving one royalty payment for a book that has been read many times. 

This is why many countries have introduced the Public Lending Right, or their own concept of this. This allows authors to receive a small payment every time their book is loaned out from a library. While the overall payments are still lower than royalties, it is still a source of income they would have missed out on previously. 

Public Lending Right

The Public Lending Right is a specific program that has been set up in 35 countries across the globe. It helps to support and protect authors that have books within a library. It ensures that they still get paid a small portion for their books each time it is loaned out from a library.

As to be expected, when a book is being borrowed continuously from a library, this does affect book sales. This is because the book has already been purchased, and a person is loaning it, rather than purchasing it. If everyone were to do this, and only one book was purchased per library, an author would incur serious losses on the sales front. 

The PLR scheme helps authors receive royalties when their book is read or loaned from the library. This payment is in addition to the original royalties received when the book was initially purchased. The payments will vary depending on the country, as do the specifics of this PLR program. 

Here, in the US, it is typically referred to as the Author’s Lending Royalty. If you are an author looking to receive further support and royalties in regard to public libraries, it is certainly something worth looking into. Some authors can receive thousands of dollars per year, depending on the popularity of their book. 

How Much Do Authors Make Per Library Copy Sold?

When looking at how much money authors make per sale of their book to a library, this will vary. There is no set amount, and the payments can vary depending on the country, state, publisher, and author. 

Libraries will purchase books directly from a publisher, and unlike bookstores, the amount of discount they receive per book is minimal. It is typically around a 10% discount. 

The amount of money made from the sale is the equivalent to the royalties received per book sold. In addition to this, if the book is covered by the PLR scheme, authors can earn additional money on top of this, each time the book is loaned. 


The answer to this question is yes, authors will get paid when their books are purchased for use in a library. The library will pay for the books, and then the author will receive a royalty from these book purchases. 

While the library doesn’t pay for the royalties themselves, their purchase contributes towards this. In addition to this, the PLR scheme allows authors to earn money every time their book is loaned from the library if their country is part of this too. 

Author Community

If you are an author, and you are looking to further the reach of your book, and your engagement with readers, you will want to consider Author Community. It is a free, text messaging based service that allows you to connect directly to your readers.

It is completely free to use, and encourages readers to engage with your content and review your books, which is an important part of publishing. The service provides you with a free Author Community number that can be placed in your book. 

When the reader texts the service, you can send them automated messages and location based information regarding upcoming events. It is a fantastic service that I would certainly recommend. You can try it out for free here