A little later than usual, the Public Lending Right sent me last week a statement of the number of times that my books have been taken out of British libraries. As I explained last year, many civilised countries have a scheme like this, whereby authors are reimbursed by the state if libraries loan out their books. This year, my finances are enriched to the tune of 6.25 pence per loan.
Here are the JC top ten library loans for 2010:
- Confucius: A Biography (hardback and paperback combined).
- Beijing: The Biography of a City.
- Chinese Life.
- A Brief History of the Vikings.
- A Brief History of the Samurai.
- The First Emperor of China (hardback and paperback combined).
- Marco Polo.
- The Pirate King (in paperback as Coxinga).
- Darwin’s Notebook.
Regular readers will note that there is a new entry, straight in at the number 6 slot, for a book that was only published a couple of months before the year’s deadline – we can perhaps expect the samurai to go further up the charts next year. Meanwhile, all the manga translations have dropped out — does this mean that Bloomsbury’s Ironfist Chinmi books are finally succumbing to wear and tear after 15 years, or simply that this year’s sampled libraries didn’t have so many comics on their shelves to begin with?
Twelve years ago, I wrote a little children’s book under a pseudonym in a matter of days — I think it took me no more than a long weekend. It has since been reprinted several times, by three different English-language publishers, and translated into some very rare languages, including Moldovan and Malay. Ever since, it has consistently generated a full 25% of my annual library royalties. There’s no predicting what book will be the one that makes one’s fortune. Not that this book makes me a fortune, but it puts a smile on my face every year when I discover another legion of people have checked it out of their local library.