We're Worth More Than 2p a Read, Say Authors
Jojo Moyes Arts and Media Correspondent, The Independent (London, England)
SOME OF the best-known names in literature will converge on the Department of Culture, Media and Sport today to demand an increase in authors' lending royalties.
Deborah Moggach, Beryl Bainbridge, Doris Lessing and David Lodge are among those who will present Alan Howarth, the Arts minister, with a petition signed by 4,000 authors campaigning for the change.
The writers are asking that the Public Lending Right, which rewards authors when their books are borrowed from public libraries, be increased from pounds 5m to pounds 7m a year. The fund, which brings authors some two pence per loan, has not been changed greatly for seven years.
Moggach, author of the bestselling Tulip Fever, and chairman of the Society of Authors, said writers were "much more poorly rewarded" than popularly thought and many relied on their library royalties. A survey conducted by the society last month found that 46 per cent earn less than pounds 5,000 a year. Moggach said: "There has been this huge fuss about big advances but as our survey showed in general authors are unbelievably poor. All we're asking is that they are rewarded fairly for the amount of people who actually are reading their books.
"Writing is the least subsidised of all of the arts ... it's a job that talented people do with often great difficulty, like any other job. It's not easy being stuck alone all day trying to dredge up the words and getting all lonely and paranoid, sitting with this blank sheet of paper. It's a very difficult job."
Other authors supporting the initiative include Martin Amis, A S Byatt, Richard Dawkins, Nick Hornby, Ben Okri and Tom Stoppard. …