WORLD FIRST SCHEME GIVES AUTHORS ROYALTIES ON USED BOOK SALES

01 June 2021

In a world first, authors are now able to receive royalties on sales of used books thanks to AuthorSHARE – a groundbreaking new scheme designed to create a fairer deal for authors in the used book market.

Until now, authors have only been able to receive royalty payments on sales of new books. However, in recent years there have been increasing calls from within the writing community for a new approach to address the exponential growth of the used book market. The market for used books is growing at 13% annually – compared to 1% for that of new books – and is estimated to be worth £420 million in the UK. For the first time, authors will be able to receive a fee when their books are resold online and enjoyed by a new owner.

These used book royalties will be paid out to ALCS members whose books have been sold via World of Books and Bookbarn International, with payments being made directly to authors or their agents as part of the twice-yearly ALCS distributions.

The scheme was the brainchild of William Pryor, founder of Somerset-based Bookbarn International, and has now been made a reality thanks to the involvement of World of Books Group – the UK’s largest retailer of used books – alongside ALCS and the Society of Authors. World of Books have created a royalty fund worth £200,000 for the schemes first year, which is expected to increase annually.

Owen Atkinson, Chief Executive of ALCS, said: “We’re delighted to be part of a scheme that will help support ALCS members in the used book market. Writers deserve to be remunerated fairly for every use of their work – whether it’s library-lending, photocopying or used reselling – and AuthorSHARE provides a great opportunity for them to receive income from this previously inaccessible revenue stream.”

Graham Bell, Chief Executive of World of Books Group, says: “The growth of the used book market is fantastic in so many ways; it offers affordable literacy and protects the planet by enabling more goods to be reused. But until now, authors have missed out on the benefits of the movement towards a more circular-model of book consumption.

A new book will be sold once but their stories can be enjoyed by multiple owners. The AuthorSHARE scheme addresses this, giving authors the potential to be paid at every point in its lifecycle. We’re incredibly proud to be paying authors for their stories and creativity – not purely fresh ink and paper.”

Nicola Solomon, Chief Executive of the Society of Authors, says: “We are thrilled at the launch of AuthorSHARE. We know that books are often passed on or sold many times, yet authors have to date only benefited financially from the first sale. It is great to see that they will now receive a small share whenever their book is sold from the websites of Bookbarn, World of Books and other participating retailers. As well as the welcome financial boost, authors love to know that their books are still being read and enjoyed long after the first sale.”

At present, royalties on used books can only be paid on purchases made directly from the World of Books and Bookbarn International websites, but both retailers hope others within the industry will join the scheme to enable more authors to benefit.

William Pryor, Bookbarn International Group’s Chairman, said: “As a writer as well as founder of Bookbarn, I was puzzled that authors, the very people who create the raw material of our business, were not benefitting. In 2015 this gave me the idea that has, thanks to World of Books bringing their scale of operations to the scheme, now become AuthorSHARE. This is all about giving authors recognition for the value they create and we hope other retailers within this space will eventually join us in this innovative voluntary initiative.”

More information about the scheme, including how authors can get involved, is available on the Society of Authors website.