Canada Council report analyzes PLR program for writers

It’s here at last: the Canada Council’s third and final report on this country’s Public Lending Right Program (PLR). Entitled Options for Renewal, it runs to 58 pages. Exhaustive and authoritative, it lays out the array of choices that face the Public Lending Right Commission. Hats off to Roy MacSkimming, the author and ex-publisher who wrote this superb report and also the two that preceded it.

Full disclosure: I was one of 20 “key informants” interviewed. Having served as chair, vice-chair and past-chair of Canada’s Public Lending Right Commission (PLRC), while also representing The Writers’ Union of Canada (TWUC), I moved on not long ago, passing the TWUC torch to Vancouver writer Genni Gunn. But as a Canadian author, I remain keenly interested.

MacSkimming makes no recommendations. Instead, he offers comparisons, notes disagreements (sometimes extreme), and lays out options. What drives the report? Since the program’s first year, MacSkimming writes, “the number of participating authors has risen by a factor of 4, from 4,377 to 17,885. But the payments budget has risen by a factor of only 1.8 when adjusted for inflation.” Again, “the maximum PLR payment in 1987 was $4,000 – the equivalent of $8,016 in today’s

dollars. In 2012 the maximum is $3,360.” How does the Commission deal with the new reality? What options does it have? Now, you can see for yourself.

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