Discussion: ARCs

Posted November 26, 2018 by Nicky in General / 10 Comments

For some book bloggers, life seems to revolve around ARCs (that’s advance reader’s copies, if you haven’t caught the bug). Getting them, reviewing them, swapping them, collecting them… Some people seem to forget that really they’re being put out there to encourage people to buy the book, especially when it first comes out.

I mean, bloggers end up practically swarming the American Library Association’s annual event, taking along a big suitcase so they can fit in as many review copies as possible — copies really intended for librarians, to help them decide what to order for their own libraries, what to recommend to readers, etc. Some bloggers then go online right after and start selling their ARCs (which if you didn’t know, that’s a big no-no: they’re specifically not legal to be sold).

I mean, I get the appeal, obviously! You get an awesome book before anyone else. I apply or ask for or just receive ARCs in the mail pretty often (mostly apply and ask for, not just get them — or when I do get them, sometimes they’re actually genres I wouldn’t read). Occasionally a publicist will even reach out to me and offer me one! That’s all great. But sometimes… sometimes, guys, I think that book bloggers have lost the plot. ARCs aren’t something we should receive as a right. They cost money to produce, and often a blogger won’t buy a copy of a book they got as an ARC, especially when it’s a print ARC. It can help with buzz, but buzz isn’t sales, and that first couple of weeks is really important for a book — you need readers to be fired up and desperate to get their hands on it!

Often, these days, I think part of it is the “next day delivery” phenomenon (I don’t know about you, but I used to wait a week or two for my book orders, but now I get irrationally annoyed if they take more than a day), the urge to have things right now. Isn’t it an awesome feeling to get it before everyone else?

I don’t know about you, but I’m planning to trying to live more in the moment. I don’t read half the ARCs I’m so grabby about before the book comes out anyway. Let’s get excited about pre-orders again, about reading the book all together the day it’s out instead of on our own months before.

I mean, not that I’m staying off Netgalley or anything. But I’m also not going to whine if I don’t get the book I want. Pinky promise.

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10 responses to “Discussion: ARCs

  1. I’m not interested in ARCs to be honest. I like to have the complete and finished book in my hands, not an uncorrected copy just so I can read it before other people. I like to be able to read a book in my own time, not to some deadline that stresses me out! I also like knowing that I’m doing my bit for author sales by buying their book when it comes out. Yeah I sometimes review ebooks for authors but if I enjoy it I buy a print copy for myself. I’m happy to exist without ARCs in my life and frankly if I was reading a pile of them, I’d never get to the books I buy myself!

    I agree with you about bloggers taking unfair advantage at these conventions and things, grabbing piles of things that don’t interest them so they can sell them for profit. I think it gives us a bad name and I don’t like that entitled grabby attitude. Genuine bloggers taking a copy to review and promote is fine but not the other kind!

    • Yes! The deadline also gets me and makes me think I should cut waaaaaaaaaay back. If I could just reset my Netgalley account and only take books I’m sure I can read, I think that might be really good… As it is, I have a huge backlog that I feel like I have to get to someday.

      And yeah, I might’ve come across too harsh about ALA. I know some bloggers who go and only take ARCs they’re really truly interested in, and I think that’s fine if it’s allowed by the rules of the convention. But… yeah, the sales afterwards are just… gah! Why!

  2. When I started my blog, I quickly signed up for Netgalley and soon enough the eARCs started coming in when I applied for them. Getting my hands on books I was waiting for was one thing, but soon I started applying for books by authors I’d never heard of, intrigued by the sales copy and lured in by the freebie.

    Now, I don’t actually visit Netgalley any more and barely ever request ARCs.

    Mostly, I stopped doing so because I feel that I can’t keep up my side of the bargain: to create buzz around a book and help sell it. My blog has very few regular readers, and I don’t market it much, or take part in the sort of things that help blogs get audiences. (i.e. I don’t interact much with other bloggers). So a good review on my blog will be seen by about 5 people and probably not result in a single sale.

    The other issue is that I soon found that I didn’t love most of the books I requested. The blurbs would sound brilliant but the books themselves were often ones I would not have finished reading if it wasn’t for the need to write a review. Writing a 3-star review (or worse) after getting a freebie felt a bit shitty. Even shittier than writing the same review and knowing there is a possibility (although hopefully not a too likely one) that the author themselves might read it. I firmly believe that reviews should not all be gushing advertorials, but honest and reflecting how much I enjoyed or appreciated a book. At least if I paid for the book, I feel a little less guilty for criticisms.

    On the other hand, I once mentioned to a publisher that it seemed counterproductive to give away lots of freebies to the exact people who would otherwise be most likely to pay money for those books. They laughed and said not to worry, that ARCs have no adverse impact on sales.
    Robert recently posted…Review: The Bedlam Stacks by Natasha PulleyMy Profile

    • Yeah, agreed on feeling guilty about honest criticism when it’s an ARC — that’s definitely a deterrent for me too. Some books have been hanging around to be read and reviewed properly because they just don’t really fit my taste — they were mildly interesting when I clicked to request, but on reflection… I’m really careful about them now, but there’s still that huge backlog.

  3. I don’t do ebooks, I don’t do eARCs either, and am not interested in Netgalley or their ilk. I think the idea was sound (at the time) have a central place to offer reviewers an advance copy to start generating buzz. But, in the end, is this phenom now bitting them in the butt?

    For me personally? If you want me to review, send me a physical copy that’s been corrected.

  4. You know, the situation you described in your second paragraph is probably why the peeps at BEA changed the rules a few years back to severely restrict the attendance of book bloggers at the convention. And guess what, those book bloggers have no one to blame but themselves. The entitlement attitude is bad enough, but I’ve also heard complaints from publicists at those kinds of events saying how rude some bloggers were to them, pretty much demanding ARCs and throwing a fit when they can’t get them. Personally, I’ve never been to any of these kinds of conventions, but somehow I can believe it. Also, the selling of ARCs is just despicable, and that was probably the last straw. I understand it was probably just a few bad apples ruining it for everybody else, but I can also sympathize with the publishers’ position and 100% support their decision to take steps against being used like that.

  5. Interesting thoughts here. I love my ARCs though I only get digital copies because I travel around too much to easily receive real post. Most of my books are world literature and niche-type books which I am grateful to be approved for, especially as without the ARCs I’d probably never even hear about most of the books. I can see from my affiliate commissions that I do sell some copies which is encouraging!
    Stephanie Jane (Literary Flits) recently posted…The Storm by Tomas GonzalezMy Profile

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