What is a book deposit?
Since 1662, publishers have been required to supply the national library with a copy of each of their publications. The purpose of this book deposit is to preserve written works for future generations, so it’s actually quite a big deal. While the British Library is the UK’s national library (and hence the one you should be sending your book to) there are 5 other deposit libraries in the country. All of these libraries are legally entitled to a copy of your book (postage included).
Now, if you’ve self-published your book you are, in fact, a publisher. That means you’re responsible for depositing your own book. If the thought of giving away a copy of your book like this rubs you the wrong way, think of it as a marketing opportunity. It’s not like the library is going to greedily hoard all its deposits, an evil librarian perched atop a book pile like a dragon. No, these deposits end up on library shelves.
Once there, people can come and borrow these books. Indeed, it might be a good idea to tell people that your book is available in the library. Not only does it sound nice and official, it also gives people a chance to check out your book and hopefully decide to support you based on its merits. They may also very well spread the word if they enjoy the book.
Do I really have to deposit my book?
Technically, yes. Should you fail to deposit your book, the library may force you to do so. While the risk of a library hunting down a rogue self-published author is very low, it is possible. We recommend reading the legislation regarding book deposition if you’re interested in the details.
In case you don’t feel like reading through it all, we’ve taken the liberty of summarizing a few key points for you.
The following publications need to be deposited:
- books (including pamphlets, magazines or newspapers)
- sheets of letterpress or music
- maps, plans, charts or tables
- parts of any such works.
It’s a pretty extensive list, so your published work will most likely fall under one of these categories. The British Library also specifies that new editions of a published work are also liable for deposit.
Where do I send it?
The following addresses and phone numbers are listed on the British Library’s website:
Legal Deposit Office
The British Library
West Yorkshire LS23 7BY
+44 (0)1937 546268 (books)
+44 (0)1937 546267 (serials)
+44 (0)1937 546409 (newspapers)
If you’ve published your book on Mybestseller, we recommend ordering a copy of your own book, and changing the shipping address to the one above.
To do this, simply log in to your account, and click “Buy your own book” (upper right corner of your screen). Select the book you want to deposit, and order one copy. Then, proceed to your shopping cart. Once there, keep your own billing address (as mentioned, the library is entitled to a free copy), but select the “ship to a different address” option:
In the next step, you’ll be able to enter the address of the Legal Deposit Office. The book will then be printed and sent directly from the printing facility to the deposit office.
You may also simply have the book delivered to your home address, and then send the book to them yourself. This will mean that you have to pay for shipping twice however, so it’s not recommended. If you happen to have extra copies lying around however, it’s a valid option!
What if I’ve published an ebook?
The deposition procedure for digital publications is a bit more complicated. First off, the British Library seems to prefer print copies. If you’ve published the same book both in print and as an ebook, they ask that you simply send them the print version.
If, on the other hand, you’ve only published your work digitally, different rules apply. If you publish fewer than 50 items a year, they ask you to deposit these via their Publisher Submission Portal.
Now, if you’re very productive and publish more than 50 items a year, the procedure changes yet again. Should this be the case, they ask you to contact them directly at LDO-Electronic@bl.uk, to discuss options.
My book has no ISBN – do I still have to deposit it?
In short, yes. An ISBN has no bearing on the British Library’s right to a deposit. As stated on their website:
“It is the act of issuing or distributing to the public in the United Kingdom which renders a work liable for deposit.”