The Legal Deposit Scheme for UK Books

As I am nearing completion of the first draft of my second book I’m starting to think about all the little jobs that I will have to do. When I published my first book “Kids’ Clubs and Organizations” I chronicled all the jobs that I had to do and you can still find many articles in my Blog Archive relating to such matters as copyright notices, ISBN numbers, the publishing process and book promotion. If you page down to the blogs from September 2012 and October 2012 in particular, you will find lots of useful information.

Legal Deposit SchemeAs it is now a year since I published my first book I have forgotten a lot of the detail. I recently had a conversation on Twitter regarding the Legal Deposit Scheme and, unfortunately, I couldn’t find any information in my Blog Archive relating to it. Perhaps I’ve mentioned it as part of a more comprehensive blog, but just in case I missed this topic the first time round I thought I would recap on the process now. That way I can help other authors as well as refreshing my tired, middle-aged memory.

By law every publisher must send a copy of any printed material to the British Library. So, if you’re a self-published author, that responsibility falls on you. The law was extended this year to also include e-books. However, this extension is in the early stages so if you only publish books in digital format you will be contacted by the British library with instructions regarding the new procedure. The intention for the future is that authors who publish in both digital and print will be able to deposit their books digitally instead.

The law also now applies to other electronic media such as websites, but if the information is freely available then the British Library will attempt to collect the information itself. By freely available that means that it is not password protected and doesn’t require a subscription or any form of payment to obtain the information.

Print BooksPrint books

If you publish print versions of your books in the UK then you must submit a copy to the British Library within one month of publication. The purpose of the scheme is so that the British Library can keep a national archive of all published material. There are six Legal Deposit Libraries in the UK, which are:

  • The British Library
  • The National Library, Scotland
  • The National Library, Wales
  • The Library of Trinity College, Dublin
  • The Bodleian Libraries, Oxford
  • The University Library, Cambridge

PostageThe British Library is the only one that must receive a copy within a month of publication but the others can also request a copy. If they ask for a copy then you are also legally obliged to forward it to them. Unfortunately, you will not receive payment for these copies and will have to meet the postage costs yourself. However, on the plus side, most of the books will be listed in the British National Bibliography (BNB), which librarians and book traders often refer to when selecting book titles to stock. N.B. the scheme also applies to other printed material such as maps, sheet music, magazines etc. but this article focuses on books in particular.

If you publish further editions of your book then you will have to deposit each of the editions. Additionally, the scheme doesn’t only apply to books that have an ISBN number; it relates to all UK published books. You can find full details about the Legal Deposit Scheme including the 2013 updates at: http://www.bl.uk/aboutus/legaldeposit/index.html.

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8 thoughts on “The Legal Deposit Scheme for UK Books

  1. Pingback: Legal Deposit Libraries Act 2003

  2. Thank you Diane, I didn’t know anything about the legal deposit scheme and I am sure I am not alone in this regard. I never sent a copy of my book to The British Library. When my second one is ready I will send a copy of both over.

  3. Diane, I didn’t know about this. But the fact that I used an American publisher (CreateSpace) and one of their free ISBNs, I presume that means my book was published in the USA, not UK? Do you know, does that mean this doesn’t apply to me?

    • Hi Alice, thanks for your feedback. I only found out about it because of a book that I read about self-publishing. I actually approached them rather than the other way round. I’m not sure what the position is with CreateSpace books. Although I published with CreateSpace I obtained my own ISBNs so I am listed as the publisher. I suppose it will depend on who is listed as the publisher, and if you have used one of CreateSpace’s ISBNs then technically it would be them. If you want to be on the safe side the British Libraries website has loads of information at the above link.

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