top_menu

How your book becomes part of history with legal deposit

Legal DepositIf your book has been assigned an ISBN (International Standard Book Number), then once it’s been published and registered with Nielsen, which supplies ISBNs in the UK and has a database used by bookshops and libraries across the globe, you are required to carry out a key piece of admin, which is also bound by law. While this might sound as exciting as mopping the floor on a Saturday night, by getting it ticked off your list you’ll be taking part in a piece of UK history that stretches back more than four hundred years. It is called legal deposit, and it requires publishers to provide a copy, free of charge, of every work they publish in the UK to the British Library. Read on to find out how this law came into being, what you need to do once your book has been published, and the benefits to you.

Where it all began

Back in the late 1500s, Sir Thomas Bodley, an English diplomat and scholar who lectured on Ancient Greece at Oxford University, re-founded the library there at his own expense after it had been stripped and then abandoned during the Reformation. The library was later named the Bodleian Library in his honour. In 1610, Sir Bodley obtained a permit for his library to claim a copy of everything printed by royal license, in effect making it the first library of legal deposit in the British Isles. In 1662, the concept of submitting a copy of a published book to a national library became enshrined in law.

Legal deposit today

These days, the British Library has taken over the Bodleian as the main library where books are collected, stored and catalogued. However, there is a chain of five other UK legal deposit libraries that also hold the right to request your book. Once they do this, you are obliged to provide them with a free copy, too. The other five libraries are:

The National Library of Scotland

The National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth

The Bodleian Library, Oxford

The University Library, Cambridge

The Library of Trinity College, Dublin

The benefits

One of the main reasons behind legal deposit is to preserve published works for future generations. So, in years to come, perhaps when the word Amazon only conjures up an image of the rainforest and technology has allowed new novels to be directly downloaded into people’s brains (perish the thought), someone could still visit the British Library and access a physical copy of your book. Now, that’s kind of a thrilling thought. The novel or nonfiction book you penned in your bedroom, garden shed or while sitting in a café has now become part of the nation’s heritage. And, in the unlikely event that the print-ready files for your book become lost and you no longer possess a copy, you can always make a trip to the British Library to find it yourself. This means you won’t have to desperately trawl around your local bookshops before turning to the Yellow Pages, as the poor old writer J.R. Hartley did in the classic 1980s TV ad, while searching for his long since published book Fly Fishing.

What you need to do

If you’re working with an independent publisher, then they should be able to either handle this process for you or advise you on what to do. The copy to the British Library needs to be sent off within one month of publication. I advise those publishing with Wrate’s Publishing to reserve six copies of their paperback from the outset, to be sent off to all the libraries in one go. If you don’t do this, you might find yourself scrabbling around for copies if and when the other libraries put their requests in, which they all too often do. Luckily, you only have to send the books off to two addresses, one office that handles legal deposit for the British Library and another dealing with the five others. Finally, don’t worry if you’ve only published an eBook, as the British Library now has a system for cataloguing digital publications.

I hope that I’ve helped to clear up any questions you may have had about legal deposit and made you realise that this is one bit of admin that isn’t so boring. Do contact me if you have any questions or would like to find out more about the editing and publishing services I offer.

 

 

 

Wrate's Editing Services - Self-Publishing Editor IconWrate's Editing Services - Self-Publishing Editor

14 Woodland Road, London

5.0 28 reviews

  • Avatar Sydney Clarence ★★★★★ a year ago
    Danielle is a delight to work with, she was invested in my work and always had the final product in the forefront of her mind. Importantly, she ensured it worthy of being in the public domain. With a keen eye for detail and a professional … More approach she offers a quality service; I frequently find myself recommending her and will continue to do so. What are you waiting for :-D
    Merry Go Round was published under my real name, Sarah Toll, by Wrate's Editing Services in November 2020.
  • Avatar cee rainey ★★★★★ 9 months ago
    I found Danielle about 10 yrs ago I think, when I had the urge to write a novel, its now sitting in a dust pile but the experience was so good I decided to try again with a non fiction book about my experiences as a nanny and how to help … More new mothers. Danielle sifted through screeds of thoughts and rambling sentences and pulled out some thing that made me feel like I knew what I was talking about. But it was missing something on my part, and sat on the study computer till I became a mum myself and was able to bring both sides of childcare to the table, the professional and the novice ! Hence All The Small Things, Everything I picked up as a Nanny and a New Mummy was born ( pun intended ) Between us we filtered through blogs I had written and previous work and brought together a piece of work Im really proud of .
    Danielle found my voice, helped me say what I needed to say, and is still supporting me and helping me with wonderful press on the book, so far I've been in the paper and on the radio promoting it .... with a few more deals up her sleeve to make sure that our work gets to as many Mums as it can.
    I cant recommend this process enough, and the feeling of achievement when you have the book inside you on paper. Danielle is professional and personal , which is what us budding authors need. If youre looking to tell your story , look no further .
    Cee
  • Avatar Anita Morrish ★★★★★ 8 months ago
    I contacted Danielle Wrate by email about a proofread of my novel, Shadow Song. I was impressed by her swift and thorough response, checking that this was indeed the service I needed. The proofread was duly carried out, well within the … More estimated time. I am extremely pleased with it, as it has been carried out carefully and the comments made are constructive and helpful. Thank you.
  • Avatar Marie Keates ★★★★★ 8 months ago
    I am so glad I chose Danielle to edit my first novel. It was frightening to hand something I'd worked on so hard and for so long to a stranger, but, from the outset, she was supportive and offered constructive advice. I couldn't … More be more pleased with the work she did for me and will certainly be using her again for book number two.
  • Avatar Terri Boas ★★★★★ a year ago
    I highly recommend Wrate's Editing Services. Danielle helped make my dreams come true.
    Two scoops, not three is my debut novel and with Danielle's professionalism, sensitivity, patience and brilliance we've made it the best
    … More I could have ever imagined.