If you're an author publishing in the UK, you are legally required to submit your book to the British Library. Here's everything you need to know about registering your book in the UK.
We're excited to welcome Ann Brady as a guest author to the blog to share her knowledge on registering your book as a British author, with the British Library Hub.
These days many authors are using KDP and/or similar services to self-publish their books, as it’s quick, easy and, cost effective. This means that anyone can become a ‘published author’ and as such be regarded as a publisher. Whether everyone or anyone should be doing this, is really a topic for another time!
Regardless, we are seeing more and more books hitting the market, meaning there has been an increase in publishers. And while not all those books are the best they can be, that too is for another blog, I realise there is one thing many self-published author/publishers forget and that is, that any publisher, whether traditional or otherwise, are supposed to submit their published works to The British Library (or your country’s national library.) And that my friends, means… YOU. The Indie/Self-published author!
Now, not many Indie author/publishers realise that under a UK law titled the ‘Legal Deposit Libraries Act 2003 all authors are legally obliged to send to the British Library a print copy of their published book, within one month of its publication. The British Library, whose central Hub is situated in a part of my home county of Yorkshire, holds a copy of every book ever published in the UK. Well, allegedly, that is and considering they have been doing this for over 350 years that is a lot of books?
There are also five other main libraries in the UK where you can/should deposit copies. These are, the Bodleian Library (Oxford University), Cambridge University Library, the National Library of Scotland, the National Library of Wales, and the Library of Trinity College, Dublin. Each of these establishments are, in fact, entitled to delivery, free of charge, a copy of every publication you issue, if, they request one within 12 months of publication. And you, are obliged to send it to them.
The request may be made before publication and may include all future numbers, or parts, of an encyclopaedia, newspaper, magazine, journal, or any other work. Either way it is a legal requirement.
Where do I send my book?
The British Library copy, which is compulsory, needs to be sent to the: Legal Deposit Office, The British Library, Boston Spa, Wetherby, (a very nice small town) in West Yorkshire. You should include a covering letter requesting they add your book to their records, and it should include the publication date along with your name and address; so they can send you an acknowledgement.
If your book has been out for more than a month but you haven’t yet sent The British Library their copy, well don’t start panicking… I doubt they will send the police after you. Although you definitely do need to send them a copy, asap. I will tell you that the Legal Deposit Libraries Act does have an enforcement clause that basically says, if you don’t send a copy they can instruct a court to tell you to do so… mind you, I don’t think they will take any action if you send yours in a bit late!
Now, this law which came into effect in 1662, only applies to printed books. However, it was amended in 2013 to allow for the deposit of eBooks. The default requirement is a print book, but if you only produce an eBook version then you can send that, however, you need to contact the BL for details on how to do so. Oh, and don’t forget, the printed copy deposited must be ‘of the same quality as the best copies which, at the time of delivery, have been produced for publication within the UK.’
The types of print publications you need to deposit covers the following categories:
- books (including pamphlets, magazines or newspapers)
- sheets of letterpress or music
- maps, plans, charts or tables
- parts of any such works.
- Every new publication, plus every new edition of a publication, each of which may contain corrections, amendments or additional content, are all liable for deposit.
Publishers are not required to deposit the following unless a written demand for them is made by a legal deposit library:
- internal reports
- examination papers
- local transport timetables
- appointment diaries
- wall and desk calendars
I don’t have an ISBN?
The requirement to deposit an item does not depend on its having been allocated an International Standard Book Number (ISBN) or a Serial Number (ISSN), but on whether or not it can be considered to have been published. And a work is said to have been published when copies of it are issued to the public.
Also, the place of publication or printing, the nature of the imprint, and size of distribution are all immaterial. It is the physical and actual act of issuing, or distributing, to the public within the United Kingdom which renders any work liable for deposit.
The Legal Deposit Libraries Act 2003 applies to all persons who publish within the United Kingdom. However, most countries will have some type of legal deposit law, so you need to check your own countries rules.
For an overview on this subject see the Wikipedia entry or check out the British Library website where you can also gain much more information.
© Ann Brady 2021
Author, Mentor & Publisher
This article covers how to place your books in the British Library Hub. To learn more about legal deposits we have written a full guide covering legal deposits. We also have articles covering the process if you're publishing your book in Australia, the USA and Canada. Remember this is of course just one of our Indie Author Guides. Pop your email in the box to the right to sign up for our newsletter and stay in touch with our latest tips, info and specials for our author friends.
Ann Brady was born in Yorkshire, but now lives in Cardiff Bay, South Wales, UK. She has been a writer for over thirty years and during her working life created, developed, and contributed to one of the first successful, award-winning retail websites in the UK. Ann is a speaker and mentor, turning to writing fiction when she retired from business. In recent years she has used her mentoring skills to aid new and developing writers of all ages worldwide through www.mentoringwriters.co.uk (adults) and www.kids4kids.org.uk (under 18’s).
As an author Ann has published a total of 18 Children’s Picture Story Books, a matching colouring book, Mystery Short Story Books and an award-winning Historical Fiction Novel. Her next Historical Fiction novel will be released in early 2021 and will compliment a musical play she has written.