Before completing your order, please take a moment to review information about potential delivery delays.

Due to closures, travel restrictions, and prioritization of vital services, some parcel deliveries may experience delays. Please check with your carrier of choice to verify your location can receive deliveries. In some instances, some deliveries may no longer be possible.
Read More.

Legal Deposit

I am a new user in the process of publishing a book. What I would like to know is whether as well as supplying an ISBN will forward a copy to the British Library following publication.


  • No. The onus is on you to supply books for Legal Deposit in the UK and Republic of Ireland.


  • And all other such places I would think.

  • Thank you for all your comments.

    This is the reply I was sent by Lulu via e-mail:

    "We do not submit copies of books published in the UK to be registered with the British Library. If you use a free Lulu ISBN you are effectively using an ISBN registered in the United States, therefore, it is unlikely that you would ever be requested to submit your book to the British Library. If you use a Lulu ISBN or publish with your own purchased ISBN it is still entirely at your own discretion to register your book with the British Library."

    As I have used a free Lulu ISBN I take it that I am not bound by the UK requirement.


  • That's correct. But if you are proud of your book why not make the Legal Deposit.

    That way anybody using a UK Public Library could read your work.

  • I am French, and live in the Paris area. As a self-published author I have always deposited a copy of my public books at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France (BNF). Authors conventionally published do not have to bother with this. French publishers have to do it themselves by law. 

    The BNF has a PDF deposit form online that we fill and print in three copies. Each must be dated and signed, and all three are joined to the copy of the book. The parcel is shipped for free to the BNF. A few weeks later, the BNF returns one of the three sheets with a sticker bearing the BNF number of the book.

    For books printed in France, it is compulsory to deposit 2 copies. For those printed abroad, a single copy is necessary.

    I write both in French and English. I wasn't sure my books in English would be accepted. So far all of them have been.

    The British legal deposit doesn't concern me. Yet, I wonder now if I shouldn't better donate the British Library a copy of my books. I have had a look at their site, and I noticed they even buy books, something unthinkable at the BNF. 


  • From the British Library's site:

    "The right of the British Library to receive one copy of every publication distributed in the United Kingdom or Republic of Ireland is based on the Legal Deposit Libraries Act 2003 in the UK and the Copyright and Related Rights Act 2000 in the Republic of Ireland."

    To me this comes as a surprise. In France, the legal deposit has existed for centuries - King François I, 1537-12-28. What did authors and publishers do before your parliament came up with this act - which I suppose dates back to 2003?

  • Oh it goes back many years before that.

    That is just the latest legislation.

  • You are right Ken Anderson. According to Wikipedia, legal deposit can be traced back to 1610 in the UK, but unfortunately doesn't supply any reference while in France, the 1537 decree of King François I is enshrined as its very beginning.

    On the other hand, before it became compulsory, in countries such as England, France, Portugal, Spain, it must have been customary to present the royal library with a copy of any new printed book.

    In the UK, the current act was preceded by the 1911 copyright act.

  • I'm sure that Her Majesty the Queen would be happy to accept a copy of your books JP.

  • Ken Anderson a écrit :
    I'm sure that Her Majesty the Queen would be happy to accept a copy of your books JP.

    Smiley LOL Very kind of you, Ken Anderson. I must confess I merely see it as a way of having my books listed in the BL's data base / bank. Smiley Happy

  • If you send one to Prince Charles make sure it's printed on reycled paper.

    The British Library as a central body was created in 1972 and prior to that the books etc., were scattered all over the place in museums and even royal collections going back 1000s of years.

    Treasures include:

    • Magna Carta
    • Lindisfarne Gospels
    • Leonardo da Vinci's Notebook
    • The Times first edition from 18 March 1788
    • Beatles manuscripts
    • The recording of Nelson Mandela's Rivonia trial speech

    I assume they boast that small list because most people will have heard of them! They also have these >>

    Holdings include:

    • Material over 3,000 years old (Chinese oracle bones) - and today's newspapers
    • 310,000 manuscript volumes: from Jane Austen to James Joyce; Handel to the Beatles
    • 60 million patents
    • Over 4 million maps
    • Over 260,000 journal titles

    Plus >>

    • We receive a copy of every publication produced in the UK and Ireland
    • The collection includes well over 150 million items, in most known languages
    • 3 million new items are added every year
    • We have manuscripts, maps, newspapers, magazines, prints and drawings, music scores, and patents
    • The Sound Archive keeps sound recordings from 19th-century cylinders to CD, DVD and MD recordings
    • We house 8 million stamps and other philatelic items
    • All this requires over 625 km of shelves, and grows by 12 km every year
    • If you see 5 items each day, it would take you over 80,000 years to see the whole of the collection
    • The world's earliest dated printed book, the Diamond Sutra, is sometimes on display in our exhibition galleries alongside many other treasures
    • We have on-site space for over 1,200 Readers
    • Over 16,000 people use the collections each day (on site and online)
    • Online catalogues, information and exhibitions can be found on this website
    • We operate the world's largest document delivery service providing millions of items a year to customers all over the world

    I would assume that when it says they will buy books, it means rare ones from private collections. There's a lot of things they do not own because the owners will not part wit them.

  • Impressive!

    No, Kevin Lomas, Smiley Happy I shouldn't have the cheek to send any of my modest books to a Royal. No, definitely not. This is not done, but seriously plan to donate some of them, perhaps all of them to the BL. I'll sent the librarians a list.

    The BL does say they buy recent monographs of importance for the improvement of knowledge. If there is a large demand from readers, they may even buy several copies to be distributed among various centers. I don't think this could concern my books.

    "The British Library purchases monographs for its Document Supply service in order to support research, teaching, scholarship and learning in universities, colleges, research institutions, businesses, government institutions, the health service and public libraries both in the UK and worldwide. Purchased material may duplicate legal deposit material in the British Library (which is not available for loan or document supply) or may supplement other British Library collections. We normally purchase only one copy of any title, but extra copies may be acquired to satisfy exceptional demand or to replace lost items."

  • The source of an ISBN is irrelevant. A book will be published in the UK if it is made available in UK outlets. Indeed the same applies even if there is no ISBN. The purpose of an ISBN is to allow books to be catalogued ie traced easily. The source of the ISBN, or it's absence, is separate from the practical question of when and where a book is published. A book available for sale without one is still published and the legal obligation to the copyright libraries in the UK and Ireland remains. 


    I might add that the UK act in the first instance only obliges the publisher to send a free copy to the British Library. The other 5 copyright libraries then have the right to ask for a free copy within 12 months of publication. At that point the publisher has to comply. 


    The main purpose of the 2003 act was to extend the ancient rules for printed books to electronic media. 


    Whether the authorities will in practice chase self publishers for copies is another matter. I think giving 6 free copies is a cheap price to pay for the preservation of your hard work for future readers for ever. 


    The Deposit Libraries are:

    the British Library,
    the National Library of Scotland,
    the National Library of Wales,
    the Bodleian Libraries, Oxford,
    the University Library, Cambridge, and
    the Library of Trinity College, Dublin.


    A Google search for UK copyright deposit libraries will produce more information. 


  • Just KevinJust Kevin Lulu Genius

    Well a late reply is better than none ...


    The source of an ISBN is irrelevant.


    Not exactly because the registered source will be the publisher and that aids people to know who to order from. Or from some distribution linked to the publisher.


    A book will be published in the UK if it is made available in UK outlets.


    Not at all true. It could be published anywhere in the world. Amazon, for example, is worldwide and carries books from everywhere, even ones that are also stocked by UK bricks and mortar shops. Lulu is American.


    Indeed the same applies even if there is no ISBN.


    Would there be much point if it has no ISBN? Often that means it's not really in distribution, and also often not intended for such.


    The purpose of an ISBN is to allow books to be catalogued ie traced easily. The source of the ISBN, or it's absence, is separate from the practical question of when and where a book is published.


    Yes it can be, because those details are often on a copyright page, that is if it even has a copyright page. Even so, some books have barcodes on that are not ISBNs, but other forms of scannable identification. That's the crux of it. Easy identification.


    A book available for sale without one is still published and the legal obligation to the copyright libraries in the UK and Ireland remains.


    Was that not said in the above posts 3 years ago?  Smiley Happy

  • Make a deposit in your country.The national library of your country collect all publications of the country: French ones in France, British ones in Britain, Swiss ones in Switzerland, independent of the language... In my case, the library of the province ask also for voluntarily deposit (and as their catalogue is connected with, I am fulfilling this wish).

    For me it has another aspect: I might disappear some day. Will my son then keep all my stuff? As a self-publisher, I don't have a publisher's archive (and even then - when Walter Verlag went bankrupt, 90 years of archives ended up in waste paper). The deposit copy is kept and so my thoughts or books survive - at least the ones I put on paper.

  • Ron MillerRon Miller Professor
    honandal2 said:

    The source of an ISBN is irrelevant. 

    This is true. The "I" of ISBN means "International." But it is always worth pointing out that an ISBN has absolutely nothing to do with copyright.

    Black Cat Studios
  • KeevesKeeves Author
    USA speaking here:

    In the mid-1970s my organization self-published a few hundred copies of a pamphlet. In was for our members use, not for distribution or sale, but we wanted it copyrighted to prevent similar organizations from using it for themselves. So we had to fill out some forms, pay a few, and send two or three copies to the Library of Congress. They have since changed the law and stopped requiring deposits such as are described by others above - in the USA, everything is now automatically copyrighted, even random notes. But as benziger wrote, it is a great way to archive -- My kids get a kick out of looking me up on the Library Of Congress Catalog website.

    In the late 1970's, a friend and I were in school in Israel, and we wrote and self-published a pamphlet, and sold it (on consignment) in some local bookstores. We were both surprised and flattered a few months later when we got this scary letter from the government, requiring us to send to copies to the national library. Fortunately, we had ample supplies left, and my kids like to look that one up too.
  • A_A_CainA_A_Cain Oz Creator
    edited June 2019
    Ron Miller said:
    This is true. The "I" of ISBN means "International." But it is always worth pointing out that an ISBN has absolutely nothing to do with copyright.
    My understanding of Legal Deposit is to guarantee copyright protection under the law.

    My State legislation uses imprecise language as to what must be deposited - historical or cultural significance primarily; ego or self-indulgence lower down. A look at the actual deposit lists suggests the keepers of the shelves are cash-strapped and budget limited, and I can't imagine much policing gets done. If the Chief Librarian wants a copy of my smut, she or he can buy their own private copy, coz I'm not paying for another one (unless they send me a polite letter, which I can't see happening any time soon).
    I used to donate copies of my books to local libraries in the UK and they then ordered copies. Nowadays, they say they are struggling financially and are not able to order further copies, but are glad to accept donated books. Years ago, I contacted numerous UK libraries, asking them to stock my books. Some complied. Anyway, my books are still available local libraries. I also registered my books with PLR (Public Lending Rights.) This might be a step to consider, Ionicus.
  • potetjppotetjp Professor
    So far I have only donated some of my titles to the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), London. They are entered in their catalogue.
    I also donate titles to the opposite French institution (INALCO, Paris). Unfortunately many books there are stolen, including by medical students who flock to its premises because they don't have enough rooms in their college. At the beginning I used to replace the stolen copies. Now I don't do it. I think the school should buy the replacement copies.
Sign In or Register to comment.