It is a legal requirement that we deposit one copy of each book we publish with the British Library. We usually do this within about a month of books coming out. During lockdown we had a couple returned to us because the receiving office in Weatherby wasn't open. Once things got to a bit more like normal we started catching up but they're about six months behind in processing. One of our titles took eighteen months to process! I always send them "signed for" and a good job too - I've been able to send proof that they have a book when they've claimed they haven't.
In addition it is a legal obligation to send five copies of books to the legal deposit libraries if they request it. Fortunately it goes through an agency so at least we don't have to send to five different addresses. It's flattering if they do request them - it means we are deemed a significant enough publisher. But it's costly. And again, I will use "signed for".
I've had a tour of the Bodleain and seen how they store the deposited books. It's heart-breaking. Books should never be treated that way especially by a library. They're stock-piled.
So, how should I react when I get a request for the Agency for the Legal Deposit Libraries for five copies of each of 30 books? Should I be pleased that they want our work? Or annoyed that this will put us back at least a month in offering a new contract to an author? Dismayed about the environmental impact? Dismayed about what will happen to 150 perfectly good books?
There was a hint that they could be deposited electronically but I am getting nowhere with that. As well, one danger of electronic cataloguing is that there may come a time when we no longer have the technology to read the catalogue. Paper burns a little as it ages but we can still read words written on it after centuries- that is if we can get them back out of the stock pile.
Surely they're not going to request the five copies of every single book published in the UK? The British Library must find it difficult enough to find space for the single copies.
So, I guess I'd better just be pleased that they deem us important enough to want our books.
I’ve just sent 150 books to the Agency for the Legal Deposit Libraries.