Archive for April 7, 2011
Those of you who have been missing Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight columns since the New York Times went behind a (partial) paywall might want to spend one of your 20 “free” ganders at his latest column, “Budget Politics in the Doldrums.”
With a government shutdown looming, Nate makes an observation, followed by a prediction:
- Observation: the public (save political junkies, like yours truly) isn’t paying much attention to the budget battles in Washington.
- Prediction: if a government shutdown takes place, people’s attention will rapidly focus on the budget battles, and the fickle public will quickly assign blame (in a not perfectly predictable, stochastic way).
Now would be a good time, and here would be a good place, to lay down your markers. How do you think this will play out?
Libraries are wonderful places…but they’re a lousy deal for writers. When a library buys your book, you get one royalty. Then hundreds of people get to read your book for free, earning you no royalties at all. The Canadian government recognizes this essential unfairness and takes steps to reimburse writers through a program called Public Lending Right, operated and funded by the Canada Council for the Arts. Every year, the PLR sends a team out to investigate dozens of randomly selected libraries across the country. They search the catalogs for copies of your books, and every time they find one they record it as a “hit” and pay you a set amount for each. This year a single hit was worth an average of about $44, based on how long the book had been registered with the PLR. The checks arrive promptly every February, and can be pleasantly substantial. 41 countries have some system to reimburse writers for books in libraries. Countries without PLR plans include the United States, and all of South America, Asia and Africa. The PLR is just one example of the many ways various nations in the world seek to support the arts—and provide tangible assistance and encouragement to their citizens who work in the arts and the humanities—because they recognize the vital national importance of these activities.