In a world first, authors are now able to receive royalties on sales of used books thanks to AuthorSHARE – a ground breaking 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.
The scheme was the brainchild of William Pryor, Bookbarn's founder, and has now been made a reality thanks to the involvement of World of Books Group, alongside The Society of Authors and the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS). World of Books have created a royalty fund worth £200,000 for the schemes first year, which is expected to increase annually.
ALCS has a membership of over 112,000 writers in 105 countries worldwide who could stand to benefit from the scheme, with payments being made directly to authors or their agents twice a year by the organisation. At present, royalties on used books can only be paid on purchases made directly from the Bookbarn International and World of Books websites, but we both hope others within the industry will join the scheme to enable more authors to benefit.
“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”
William Pryor, Bookbarn International Group’s Chairman
What is the AuthorSHARE scheme and why was is developed?
The AuthorSHARE scheme pays authors royalties on the sale of used books purchased at worldofbooks.com and
bookbarninternational.com. Traditionally, authors have only received royalty payments on sales of new books. However, the used book market is growing exponentially at 13% each year, compared to 1% annual growth in the new book market. The AuthorSHARE scheme has been launched to give writers a fairer deal and address the need for change in how they are remunerated in response to the changing market landscape.
How does the Author Share scheme work?
The Author Share scheme works thanks to an agreement between used book retailers (World of Books and Bookbarn International) and the Authors’ Licencing and Collecting Service (ALCS). The retailers share their sales information with the ALCS who will match these with works by their members and make a payment directly to them. Personal customer data is not shared.
How was the AuthorSHARE scheme developed?
The Author Share scheme was the brainchild of William Pryor in 2014, then called The Book Author Resale Right. William was inspired by the Artists Resale Right – also known as Droit de Suite – which grants artists or their estate to receive a fee on the resale of their artworks. The scheme has been made a reality thanks to the involvement of World of Books Group, the UKs largest retailer of used books. The business finds a used book a new home somewhere in the world every two seconds and operates at a scale that makes the scheme possible.
Have authors been consulted on the scheme?
Yes, through the Society of Authors the development there has been consultation directly with authors. The schemes governing group also includes author representation. It has been vitally important to ensure author voices have been consulted to help steer the direction of the scheme through its development.
Who are the ALCS?
Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS) is a not-for-profit membership organisation started by writers for the benefit of writers. They are open to all types of writer, and owned by their members. They collect money due to members for secondary uses of their work. These might include activities like photocopies, cable retransmission, digital reproduction and educational recording. The ALCS currently have over 112,000 members receiving payments for secondary uses of their work who could now benefit from the additional income the Author Share scheme provides.
Do writers need to be a member of the ALCS to receive income from used book sales?
Yes, only writers who are members of the ALCS will receive payment from the Author Share scheme. Members must have also registered their individual works with the ALCS in order to receive payment for those titles. This is because the sales information from World of Books and Bookbarn International needs to be matched to a specific books. Authors should also register all editions of their works as payments are made based on item ISBN numbers.
Who can join the ALCS?
If you’ve ever written anything that’s been published or broadcast, you can join the ALCS. Authors can be based anywhere in the world.
Is there any cost to authors?
A lifetime membership with the ALCS costs £36. This is not an upfront fee and is deducted from the first payment the ALCS make to their members. However, members of the following organisations can join for free:
The ALCS take a 9.5% commission on the royalties paid to their members.
Why do books need to be purchased through Worldofbooks.com or Bookbarninternational.com?
Both World of Books and Bookbarn International also sell across third-party marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay. However, authors will only receive royalty payments on sales made through their direct websites (worldofbooks.com and bookbarninternational.com). This is because both businesses already pay a high level of platform-fees to third-party marketplaces. This is an entirely voluntary scheme linked to sales made directly through their own websites.
How much will authors receive?
The royalties authors receive for the resale of their works through worldofbooks.com or bookbarninternational.com will depend on various factors including sales price and other costs. The organisations and businesses involved will be able to supply more information following the first payments made by ALCS in October 2021.
Is there a limit on how much authors can earn from the scheme?
Yes. Because the scheme is linked to a fund dedicated to support it, there are limits on how much an author will be able to receive. The most any author can currently receive from the scheme is capped at £1,000 a year.
How often will authors receive payment?
Authors will receive payments if any royalties are due, twice a year in October and March.
How much is the AuthorSHARE fund?
World of Books Group have created a fund of £200,000 to pay authors royalties for the first year of the scheme. It is expected that this will increase in subsequent years as the contribution is linked to business performance and profit.
Where do the funds come from?
The funds are linked to the business performance at World of Books Group. The initial fund for the first year stands at £200,000. It is expected that this amount will increase annually as the business grows.
What will happen to any funds that are not allocated to authors as part of the scheme?
AuthorSHARE are dedicated to ensuring authors are supported. If any funds are left unallocated at the end of the year – or royalties that exceed the £1,000 limit – will be added to the Authors Contingency Fund, managed by the Society of Authors. The fund will be used in its entirety ever year and will not roll over.
Can other retailers join the scheme?
Other online retailers of used books are welcome to join the scheme! It has been developed to support the writing community and open up a new source of income for authors. The more retailers that are interested in being involved, the greater the benefit for authors. Retailers can contact World of Books Group at firstname.lastname@example.org or William Pryor at Bookbarn International at email@example.com
How do I know if a book I am purchasing is registered with ALCS and the author will receive a payment?
At worldofbooks.com and bookbarninternational.com, we are aiming to indicate which used books will qualify for the scheme. This feature may take a short while for us to introduce.
I am an author, an ALCS member and my works are all registered. How can I let my followers know about the scheme?
We have a toolkit of social media assets that you can use to let your social media followers know you will receive a payment when used copies of your books are sold via worldofbooks.com or bookbarninternational.com. These are available for download on The Society of Authors website here.