Authors receive e-book remuneration

Authors, illustrators and editors are being compensated for lending e-books and audiobooks for the first time, bringing distributors’ rights into the 21st century.

An expansion of the annual $12.9 million loan rights program over four years will be announced Monday at the launch of the Albanian government’s national cultural policy.

ASA's Sophie Cunningham.

ASA’s Sophie Cunningham.Credit: delivered

The current lending systems, introduced by the Whitlam government and extended to educational institutions under the Howard government, pay authors for books held in public libraries and effectively compensate them for books that would otherwise have been sold.

The move, set to take effect from July, comes after the Australia Council’s National Survey of Australian Book Authors found that the median income for authors is $18,200, well below the poverty line.

The Australian Society of Authors, which has drawn attention to the precariously low author earnings, hailed the government’s “solid commitment” to funding and recognition of digital content.

ASA chair Sophie Cunningham said the commitment to digital lending rights could add hundreds if not thousands of dollars to an author’s income, depending on the author and genre. Audio and e-books can be worth anywhere from 10 to 20 percent of author sales.

For the award-winning author Markus Zusak, author of The Book Thiefdigital formats make up about 14 percent of the editions sold

“It makes a big difference to some children’s books, genre books, and some books really take off with audio and some books don’t,” Cunningham said, adding, “Legislation often takes a while to keep up with technology.”

Federal Arts Minister Tony Burke said the country’s laws needed to be updated to ensure Australian artists were properly compensated. Authors receive e-book remuneration

Jaclyn Diaz

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