ARCs and bloggers.
Everyone is talking about them.
Um, OK, I guess if GalleyCat were to fact-check that statement they way they fact-check the New York Times Kindle2 Article, I would be found to be exaggerating.
For the what is an ARC recap, please read my posts at ForeWord Magazine's Shelf Space blog.
ARCs and bloggers.
I've seen some interesting talk about them recently.
(See, New York Times and Wall Street Journal, how easy it is to be accurate?)
My head is spinning from the comments at Presenting Lenore and Reviewer X. Some stuff is familiar (the emails from publicists and publishers offering reviewer copies when clearly they have not read my blog enough to know if the proposed copy "fits" what I write about); others, not so much (bloggers who just boast about scoring ARCs and then trade them back and forth and never review/discuss the books).
A few scattered thoughts.
ARCS aka "review copies" are for books that will be published sometime in the future (usually within the next six to nine months, but I've seen ARCs up to a year ahead of time.) If you want to review a book that is already published, chances are the ARCs are all gone. Plus, the reason for the ARC -- advance buzz, advance reviews -- is gone because the book is out. Also, with the final version out, why read and review an earlier version that at best has typos and at worst is incomplete? Go to the library to get a copy.
Authors don't make a lot of money. They don't have ARCS (or extra hardcover/paperback copies) of books sitting around, waiting to send to bloggers (or donate to fundraisers or to underfunded school libraries etc.) The postage to send all those requests out could eat up a royalty check -- let alone the cost to them of the actual ARC or book. See, authors only get so many copies of the book itself; after that, they have to pay for them. Am I saying NOT to ask authors? Since bloggers often get emails from authors saying "can I send you a copy," I cannot say "don't ask authors." But with everything -- be realistic, be polite, be understanding.
Bloggers are doing this for free. No, really. I sometimes think that authors or readers don't get the investment of time a blogger makes: maintaining the blog, selecting titles to read, reading the titles, writing posts about those titles, etc. etc. So -- bloggers should NOT have to buy the books they intend to write about on their blogs. There are enough books in a public library that a blogger doesn't have to rely on ARCS, and doesn't have to spend his/her own money.
Bloggers don't need ARCs. No, really. OK, so I do review from ARCs. And I get them from a variety of places. Conferences, such as ALA and BEA. Publishers. Friends. Heck, I could do an entire post on that (and will if there is interest.) But I also review titles from other sources: books I've bought or checked out of the library. One of the good things about blogs as opposed to traditional review sources is our ability to blog about things other than upcoming books.
Both the comments in Presenting Lenore and Reviewer X refer to these mysterious blogs that boast about getting ARCs and trade them but never review. A recent review I did based on an ARC I borrowed from a friend was pretty well received by the author, so a borrowed ARC can fulfill the purpose of an ARC. ARCs being passed back and forth is not a bad thing for the author.
Based on the number of ARCs I get, it would be impossible to review them all. I've frequently considered posting the titles of review copies I have received. Actually, come to think of it, I have done it sometimes, with books I get from conferences. If these comments are talking about things like The Story Siren's vlog "In The Mailbox," I don't get the negativity & snark in the comments. That's just a very clever, entertaining way to share new and upcoming titles with people.
A blogger isn't obligated to review/discuss every ARC/review copy they get. Now, you may argue that an obligation exists because of how one gets an ARC -- but I would respectfully disagree. Why? Well, a book can sound awesome. You request the ARC or respond to the email soliciting the ARC. And then you dislike the book. Maybe don't get beyond the first few chapters. What is your "obligation"? What do you "owe"? Keep in mind I am not talking about the always-ongoing debate about writing reviews that are critical/negative about a book.
That said, c'mon, if you've said "yes" to getting a specific ARC/review copy, they are being sent to you for a reason. To review that book. Personally, I prioritize posting about the ones that are sent to me as the result of "direct contact", and then aim to do a percentage of the ones that get sent unsolicited. (But the hows and whys of what I read versus what I finish versus what I post about is an entire other post).
OK. That's a lot of scattered thoughts. So my final bit on this tl;dr post: while some comments (usually anonymous) talk about these entitled bloggers who are using ARCs to no longer buy books and treat them like the finished product and don't review, etc., much as I clicked through links, all I found were book blogs with interesting discussions and content and I ended up adding a ton of new-to-me blogs to my bloglines account.
© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy
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