General Question

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

Does a library have to pay a fee every time a book is signed out?

Asked by RedDeerGuy1 (20408points) November 14th, 2020

I was wondering. Is it true?

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17 Answers

Darth_Algar's avatar

Nope. If that were the case many libraries, cash-strapped as they are already, would not be able to operate. Libraries purchase books from the publisher and the author gets paid a royalty from that purchase – just like it operates with any bookseller.

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

@Darth_Algar I’m not sure. For example:
Dentists in my area have to pay royalties on music in the waiting room and in the dentists chair.

My local news years ago brought both stories up, and made me wonder.

When a library buys a book it prevents a future sale by giving away free books to sign out. I would say that is wonderful that one’s books are liked, while some would prefer a sale.

It could be pennies per royalty?

Darth_Algar's avatar

Most business that pipe in music usually do so through some kind of subscription service. The service pays annual fees to organizations such as ASCAP and BMI, who then out applicable royalties to the relevant songwriters and music publishers.

Book publishing is different. Whether you’re a book seller, a library or whatnot, you purchase copies from the book publisher. The publisher then pays the author whatever rate they contracted for out of the book’s sales. I use to work in a library, one that had a paper-thin budget to work with at that. I assure you, we did not pay out royalties whenever a book was checked out. We would have shuttered within a day if we had to do that.

Zaku's avatar

Heck no! A book is a book. People are allowed to own copies of books, and share them.

Companies trying to stretch the definition of what basic objects are so that they can be paid even more than they already are… the idea is obscenely outrageous and in recent years’ climate of enormous corporations buying laws, dangerous.

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

@Zaku @Darth_Algar
I saw it on the news years ago.
Maybe is only for certain types of books?
Like ebook or acedemic textbooks?
It might be for academic libraries?
Or something different that I am missing?

Oh well. Maybe another Jelly who is a librarian could shed more light on my question.

I thought It said that the government pays the pennies on every book signed out.

Do we have any writers on Fluther who can answer the fee structure for books?

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

The royalty laws on books depends upon the country.

canidmajor's avatar

Maybe you misremembered what you saw years ago, @RedDeerGuy1.

Think about it. Used book stores don’t pay royalties to authors. When you borrow a book from your friend they don’t pay a royalty to the author.

There may be special cases, as you mentioned, but you would do better doing in depth research on this, or simply calling and asking your library, than asking here.

janbb's avatar

It’s not done, at least not in the States.

jca2's avatar

The royalty gets paid to the author when the book is sold (bought).

janbb's avatar

I just did a little research and it seems there was some controversy around issues raised by publishers when e-books were first being promulgated. Publishers were worried about how they would make their money. It’s possible that you read something about royalties as an idea then but to my knowledge, it’s not being done. Libraries do have to buy e-books and thus only a certain number are purchased by any one system.

elbanditoroso's avatar

I have large personal library at home – hundreds of books on shelves. How would that work? If I decided to read a book that I bought 15 years ago, would I have to write a check to the author for 15 cents?

Suppose I only read the last four chapters of a 20 chapter book? Would I reduce my payment by 80%? And what about when I look up a word in a dictionary? How would I pay the publisher? By the lookup?

If this were a viable idea, think about all the people who have CD and DVD collections. Every time they played a scene on their DVD player, someone would have to get paid. If my kids want to watch the Mary Poppins DVD five times this week, I would be in the poorhouse.

No – authors and libraries do not charge per circulation , in general

Call_Me_Jay's avatar

This is not royalties, but the library can pay a fee each time an e-book is checked out.

Deseret News – Nov 18,, 2011— S.L. library pays more for e-books than for print – “The Salt Lake Library pays $12,000 a year for the OverDrive online checkout service, then pays a fee per title to rent out books to patrons.”

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Dentist and doctors pay for the “piped-in” music without commercials !

Repeat – - no commercials, the company charges a monthly fees.

Call_Me_Jay's avatar

@Tropical_Willie Part of that music fee goes to ASCAP to pay royalties.

Another place that is true is public event spaces – you read about it when performers object to their music being used by political candidates. They complain, but they can’t stop it, because the venues pay a blanket fee to ASCAP to play recordings. ASCAP doesn’t keep track of every song played, instead they have a formula for using all the fees to pay all the member artists.

ASCAP Licensing

janbb's avatar

@Call_Me_Jay I just read the article and it reads to me like the libraries pay for the service and then for each copy of an e-book they acquire. The price per e-book is higher but they are not paying a per circulation fee. The more holds you have on a book, the more copies you will want to buy but it is still not a fee per circulation.

It is true in general, that libraries are becoming strapped because of low public funding and also the higher costs of e-books and electronic database subscriptions for journal and magazine article access.

Darth_Algar's avatar


Indeed, at this point I’m not even sure if the library I worked at is still in operation.

JLoon's avatar

No. Libraries have super powers ;D

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