Introducing AuthorSHARE: royalties on second-hand books

Martin Reed

Martin Reed

Martin leads the SoA's Communications team. He oversees our strategic communications and campaign-based activities, including PR, social media, events and partnerships.
In a world first, ALCS members will now be able to receive royalties on sales of used books. This is thanks to a groundbreaking new scheme designed to create a better 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 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 12% annually, compared to 1% for new books – and by 2025 it is estimated to be worth £563 million in the UK alone.

AuthorSHARE – a partnership between used book retailers World of Books and Bookbarn International, alongside the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS) and the Society of Authors – aims to rebalance this in favour of the author.

At launch, royalties will be paid on used book sales made from worldofbooks.com and bookbarninternational.com, although the aim is to expland the scheme to include other used book retailers.

But while the scheme is brand new, it has been designed to work with existing systems at ALCS – so for authors it could not be simpler. If you are already a member of ALCS (membership is free for SoA members) and if your books are already registered there, then you are already part of the AuthorSHARE scheme.

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

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.

‘The value of a book goes beyond the value of the paper it is printed on,’ said SoA chair Joanne Harris, ‘so it is great to see that original creators will see some benefit when their work finds a new reader. That the scheme has come from a partnership of private companies who simply believe that this is the right thing to do is very reassuring. This has been such a financially challenging time for so many authors. Now more than ever, the secondary incomes that come from library borrowing, copying, and now re-selling can all add up to help make a creative career a financially viable one.’

Graham Bell, Chief Executive of World of Books Group, said:

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, said:

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.

The first AuthorSHARE royalties will be paid by ALCS in September statements, so this is a good time to check your book registrations on alcs.co.uk are completely up to date.

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