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Public Lending Right - payments for audiobook narrators

14 Mar 2020 3:10 PM | Helen Lloyd

 An annual payment perk for audiobook narrators - Not to mention authors, illustrators, print editors, and even ghostwriters! 

Every time anyone borrows a physical copy of a book (or an audiobook version on CD) from a public library in the UK or Ireland, the Public Lending Right comes into force and the majority of the creatives involved are paid a small fee every time a book to which they have contributed is taken out.  For audiobook narrators, the amount per book is small, but if a book is particularly popular and is borrowed regularly, it can amount to a tidy sum. So, if you haven't already registered yourself on the PLR site, then this information may be useful.

The UK PLR scheme is administered by the British Library from its offices in Boston Spa. The PLR office also provides registration for the Irish PLR scheme on behalf of the Public Lending Remuneration office.

Over 22,000 writers, illustrators, photographers, narrators, translators and editors who have contributed to books lent out by public libraries in the UK receive PLR payments each year. To qualify for payment, applicants must apply to register their books, audio-books, Ebooks and E-audio-books including downloads from platforms other than Audible who do not subscribe to the scheme.

If you have contributed to a book which is lent out by public libraries in the UK and the Republic of Ireland and wish to apply to register for UK and Irish PLR schemes, There is a huge amount of information and guidance provided when you sign up for PLR on the website - here are the basics.

Step 1 - Signing up to the PLR website

Under the PLR system in the UK, payment is made from government funds to authors, illustrators and other contributors whose books are borrowed from public libraries. Payments are made annually on the basis of loans data collected from a sample of public libraries in the UK. The Irish Public Lending Remuneration (PLR) system covers all libraries in the Republic of Ireland and operates in a similar way.

Applicants can find the relevant information required to register their titles, for example, the ISBN number and what format the book is, on their Royalty statement - or for audiobook narrators, by searching for their narrations on Amazon.co.uk, to find which are published as CD copies. Digital downloads from Audible are not eligible for payment.

So, the first thing is to register online via The British Library website, www.bl.ul/plr

You will be given access to register your titles with a personal login and password - you'll then see a form onto which you register eligible titles one by one.

Step 2 - Find out which audiobooks are eligible.

The next thing is to find out which audiobooks are released on CD - not all are - and some are initially only available on Audible as a digital download, but may subsequently be released on CD, so you need to check a couple of times a year just to make sure. You can find this out on Amazon.co.uk. Audible is not part of the scheme, so only audiobooks available outside Audible are eligible. Audiobook loans from libraries in any of these formats are eligible to be included in the scheme.

  • CD.
  • Cassette
  • MP3 Playaways (pre-loaded MP3 players which contain a single audio-book title – customer supplies headphones and battery)
  • MP3CD – (unabridged audio-books which can be played on home computers)
  • CD Roms which are the equivalent of a printed book produced in CD Rom format (eg a narrated version of a book or a pdf version of an ebook produced in CD Rom format)

The following materials qualify for registration (if they are issued with ISBNs), however will not receive a payment (as they are subject to the same copyright law restrictions as ebooks):

  • .Digital download 
  • .Audio download
  • .E-Audio

The following audio materials do not qualify for registration:

  • Amazon Audible downloads (digital downloads issued with ASINs)
  • Dramatisations of TV or radio shows or audio material based on TV and radio shows which just contain actors performing their role with no narration in between
  • Recordings of conversations, speeches, interviews and comedy sketches
  • Interactive/Multimedia CD Roms which require additional software or interactive content in order to use the material. Under the terms of the scheme, this type of material is not deemed to be the equivalent of a printed book (eg software providing interactive access to teaching materials)

So ... if you've recorded an eligible book that is for example available on CD then search Amazon using the book title. If it's available on CD, that information will be on the page. Click on the Audio CD tab on the books listing page: this will take you to the next page which gives details of the CD - including - right at the bottom of the CD information page, the ISBN numbers - for example: ISBN-10: 1250221129 or ISBN-13: 978 -1250221124

You can use either ISBN-10 or ISBN-13 numbers to register the title.

Step 3 - enter the information into your PLR profile

Next you need to enter the relevant information onto your personal PLR profile page. You list the ISBN number, the book title, the name of the publisher, the year published and finally what percentage you are due to be paid. Narrators get 20% payment - payments are made annually in February for the entire previous year running from June to June.


  • 18 May 2020 1:53 PM | Anonymous
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