I don't want you all to think I don't like publishers. I do! Some of my best friends are publishers. Er, I mean work for them.
And I feel very, very strongly that blogs should have access to ARCs. One reason is that if blogs don't have ARCs, then it creates a monopoly by newspapers and magazines. Also, some bloggers may get ARCs because of other hats they wear (i.e., librarian, reviewer), so those blogs would be privileged over non-other-hat-wearing blogs. And I believe the bottom line about blogs is not so much WHO is writing as WHAT they are writing. And the kick-ass blog can come from NotNYC and NotLibrarian, and ARCS help make that happen.
Anyway. Point. Click over to Tasha's Kid Lit blog (the original!), and read about her exchange with a publisher at ALA. Here is the objectionable, bad behavour from publisher part (with me=Tasha)
Her: And if the numbers are good enough, we will send you ONE BOOK and IF WE LIKE HOW YOU HANDLE THAT TITLE YOU CAN HAVE ANOTHER ONE.
Me: (Blankly.) Oh?
Her: You can see that our titles have been embraced by the blogging community (Yes, there were several that were HUGE on blogs.) That’s because of this policy. It really works for us. (Yes, I bet it does. Didn’t doubt that for a moment.)
Me: I’ll have to think about that. I don’t do that with any other publisher I work with. It’s not how I do business.
Her: (Sudden change in demeanor. I think she just replayed our conversation and realized that she had completely misread the situation.) Well, we could send you hundreds of titles at a time. We wouldn’t hold you to one, necessarily.
Me: Well, I’ll think about it.
This is a problem; the idea that the publisher is treating the blogger NOT as an independent reviewer writing for a reader, but rather as someone auditioning for the job of official publisher reviewer writing for the publisher.
The further problem? This has CLEARLY worked with other bloggers. (Tho it is also possible that there are indeed new bloggers who are saying they are several years old and misrepresenting themselves...and that some people name their blogs things that sound like other people's blog names so that publishers get confused.)
I get review copies from the publisher Tasha spoke with. I have never had the publisher say to me that reviews had to be a certain way to get copies. I imagine it's what employee someone talks to; but it is also bloggers who not only accept being treated this way but who feed into it by saying, "send me a copy and see how I do, it's totally OK to act this way." No doubt publishers get mixed messages.
My message is clear: Thank you for the ARCs and Review copies that allow me to blog early about titles. And also thank you for realizing I am, as Tasha said, an independent reviewer.
And I hope other bloggers start thinking, seriously, about what they do, who the write for, and who they answer to.
© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy