Saturday, January 29, 2005

How Many Times Should an Author Get Royalties?

The London Times reports that British authors are arguing for a law change to require second-hand-book stores to pay them royalties for subsequent sales. Link.
Online book-selling is now so efficient that readers can easily find second-hand copies from bookshops all over the country.(...)

Authors fear that the ease with which readers can find second-hand copies is shortening the shelf life of new books.

Dame Antonia Byatt has called for new rules to protect novelists using a system known as droit de suite, which guarantees artists a payment for each subsequent sale of their work. The rule is already scheduled to be introduced for visual art next year to ensure that painters receive a payment for second-hand sales of their work.

The comparison with visual arts is not a good one. Paintings often go up sharply in price over time, so the first sale can prove to be very low. Books rarely appreciate in value, so the first sale got the best price. On the other hand, if you compare their situation with song writers and composers, they receive a royalty every time their song is played on radio, TV or in a movie. Perhaps the authors need an industry association to collect additional royalties whenever more than one person reads a book.


Post a Comment

<< Home