Saturday 19 January 2013

PLR number crunching

It's PLR time again - that joyous time when authors find out how much money they have earned from library loans in the UK.

As usual, some of us are celebrating, some being glum, and some relieved that it's not fallen too far. Is there a pattern? My PLR is up again, but it's up every year as I release a lot of new books each year. So I thought I'd stick all the figures into Excel and do a bit of exploring. And it's quite interesting...

I've looked at a total of 113 titles. I have more books than that registered, but I've combined the paperback and hardback loans for each title. I was careful to take account of books that came out during the last year and so aren't listed the previous year. In looking at the changes per book, I ignored one book that came out close to the end of the 2010-11 PLR year and so wasn't available for borrowing for most of the year. Thereafter, these my findings:

Thirrteen books show appreciable increases in loans. Of these, five are non-fiction (38%). Two of the  non-fiction are very simple reluctant-reader titles. One is an edition of Machiavelli's Prince. One is a photographic book about London, so possibly of more interest because of the Olympics. The last is a book about healthy lifestyles. All except the Machiavelli are children's books. The average increase over last year was 210 loans, with the largest non-fiction increase being 301 for London: A photographic exploration, published by Chrysallis.

All the rest of the increases (8 titles) were in fiction, with an average increase in loans of 872. The largest increase was 2,642 (up from 5,545 to 8,187) for Where's My Sock, published by Hachette.

And the losers? All non-fiction, with children's non-fiction losing faster than adult non-fiction. The biggest loser by a very big margin was Take Me Back (Dorling Kindersley), which dropped by 794. As I only wrote about 10% of it, I don't really care - but I can't see why, unless it's because it gets stolen a lot.  (It is very nicely produced.) A stolen book can't be borrowed again. The next largest loser was Kidnaps (Franklin Watts), a book about forensic science, which dropped by 230.

Overall, my loans have gone up by 15 per book on average (corrected for more books listed in 2012 than in 2011). That doesn't look significant. But:

  • Fiction loans are up an average of 534 per book (using only books that were also out last year).
  • Non-fiction loans are up by 7 per book.
And finally... 72% of my loans are from fiction, which represents only 13% of the titles (listed in both years). In fact, 56% of the loans were from just four books - the series All About Henry (with the sock). Why is this strange? Because it's part of a reading scheme. That means, kids are told to read it at school. So why the hell are they borrowing it from libraries? But no matter - please keep borrowing it!

Friday 11 January 2013

Had we but world enough and time...(2)

Recently, someone said to me that they didn't have time to listen to a 15-minute radio programme.

Isn't that sad? Not 15 minutes in the whole week (it was available on iPlayer) to listen to something interesting. Listening to the radio is not even an exclusive activity - you can do other things at the same time.

I've been noticing since how many people have been saying 'I don't have time to...' whatever. Really? Most of these people don't have children at home; they are married (so we can assume some level of sharing of domestic chores); and they don't have out-of-the-house jobs that occupy regular hours - they're writers, illustrators, freelance editors, etc. So how can they have so little time?

Of course, they don't *really* have so little time - I see them discussing TV programmes on twitter. I don't watch TV. I don't have time. That is, I choose not to watch TV because I would rather spend my time doing other things. People in the UK spend a total of 10,000 years a night watching TV. Think what we could do with all that time! If you just watch two hours a night, it's two working days a week.

Perhaps not working regular out-of-the-house hours is part of the problem. Work expands to fill the time available. Actually, whatever you do, even if it's just faffing about on Facebook, expands to fill the time available. But similarly, you can cram more in and it shrinks to fill the time available. As the single parent of a long-term ill child, earning all the money we live on from the not-very-well paid job of writing, there are a lot of demands on my time. Some things don't get done (cleaning, mostly) - but lots of things do get done. And really, it doesn't take any longer to do the cleaning if the place has got a bit dirtier in between times. It's more satisfying, too, as you can see a difference.

So please, people, this year - choose how to spend your time. Don't get into the position of feeling there is never time to do things you want. Commit to doing more things and time will stretch to let you fit it in. (This doesn't apply to the very few of you who *are* single parents juggling jobs and writing and five dogs and chronic illnesses and domestic disasters. Been there-done that. Except the dogs.)

Anyway, I must go to bed now and read Crime and Punishment as I have to get up early and buy chicken food and build a fence to separate good chickens from bad chickens and bury the bint's dead fish and put the Christmas decorations in the attic and then go to the university library to work on The Story of Philosophy (deadline 22 Feb) and the picture list for MMBR (deadline Tuesday) and then go to a friend's house for dinner. I hope you have a restful day, too!