I think as book bloggers we think a lot about ways to promote books easily and ways to increase your content easily, a lot. A lot of our minds turn to ARC’s (or proof copies) as a way to engage with recent releases, publishers and authors in a really easy manner. I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the book community and the trading and receiving of ARC’s, and i wanted to write an honest post about my thoughts, no matter how controversial they are.
There are so many different sides to ARC’s in the community, when really they’re just a way to get books into the hands of bloggers and booksellers in order to promote the book and author. I personally have always had a very standoffish relationship with ARC’s. It took me a long time in to my blogging career to start requesting ARC’s and starting relationships with publishers. It somewhat intimidated me and it also is something that you do have to learn how to do, not to mention you need the confidence to do it! Most of all, a lot of it is based upon your audience and if you have numerous ways to promote a book. Admittedly, we only started an Instagram account recently to promote on and we have a book club we can promote too. We have only just reached that point of having an audience big enough to promote to.
There are a lot of aspects of trading arcs that i have opinions on. Trading arcs is a great way to keep spreading the word about books that people love and are interested in. Sharing them between bloggers is definitely positive for spreading information about a book and sharing it amongst others that have the platform to talk about it. However, I’ve seen a lot of negativity recently about trading ARCS, selling them and other aspects that aren’t as friendly to bloggers. There seems to be a lot of snobbery about ARC trading, and a lot of deceit which is concerning in a very trusting community. I know that you cannot trust everyone, but people asking for ridiculous trades or ones that you cannot simply do, are not something i personally want to get involved in. Among other things, people selling ARCs on eBay (which is illegal anyway) makes me incredibly annoyed. It’s people taking advantage of collectors and it’s definitely something i want to stay far away from.
That being said, there are a lot of people who collect ARCs. There have been a few comments on this recently from authors who have said they don’t want to ‘hoard’ ARCs once they’ve read them, and there are many people in the community that feel the same. An ARC as you all know, is not a finished copy of a book. If you really loved a book, it’s not the copy that you’d want to keep as you’re not getting all the work that the author has put in. However, there are people who collect all the works of a certain author, or maybe all the versions of a certain book that are available. Including ARCs. There are many people that have ARCs in collections and to expect people to pay money or get involved with ridiculous trades in order to complete their collections. This is something else negative about the community that i don’t agree with, and i really don’t appreciate about the ARC world. I’d much rather stay out of this drama.
We’ve had a couple of questions recently about if myself and Sophie get an ARC each when reviewing or we share. And the answer simply is both. We are two people, yes one blog, but two people who don’t live in the same house, and live very separate lives. It means we do mostly get two ARCs, such as at YALC, shocker, we pick up one each. But we are not against sharing a copy. We do mostly share our books, and if one of us owns something, we won’t bother buying or requesting a copy. But we do occasionally get two ARCs from publishers as we post separately about the book and usually write more than one post about it.
In my personal opinion, there are very big issues surrounding ARCs in the community at the moment. There are some huge positives to ARCs admittedly, however there is so much competition and rivalry. ARCs can be very much seen as a status thing for the bookish community, and it’s incredibly frustrating for it to be seen that way. I rarely request anything i’m not interested in, and know i will enjoy reading. They’re supposed to be a tool to aid publication, absolutely nothing else.
I started to think about this topic a few months back when there was a lot of drama regarding the ripping out of pages of A Good Girls Guide To Murder by Holly Jackson by the publisher. With each ARC sent to bloggers, the publisher ripped out a number of pages from the back of the book. Leaving the ending open and sending the blogger on a trail from email to Netgalley in order to find out the ending.
Personally, i had a lot of feelings about this. I want to first say a huge thank you to the publishing for sending me a copy of the book. However i couldn’t read it. For me, as someone who doesn’t use their Netgalley account due to dyslexia (i cannot read on screens), it was impossible for me to review the book without an ending. Leaving it absolutely pointless the book arriving on my door step. I was extremely excited about reading the book, however just couldn’t pick it up because i would have been unable to review it. It got me thinking about everyone who chooses not to use Netgalley, who chooses not to have a Kindle or any device in which to read on. There are many reasons as to why i feel like this just wouldn’t work, and i was one of those people it just didn’t work for.
I know what the publisher was aiming for, and i really appreciate the effort that went in to it. It was a fun game and it did devalue the ARCs in the middle of all this ARC drama, however, it just seemed a little pointless to me. It seemed a little inconsiderate of the people who might be struggling with this, after all, we’re getting an ARC with the ability to read and review it completely to promote the book, and it really did put me off reading it all together.
ARCs definitely spread the word about novels, and it gives a blogger the chance to really promote that book. It also strengthens relationships with publishers and the community, spreading the word about books that are due to be released and helping out with the promotion aspects.
I am actively trying to not request ARCs for the second half of this year to catch up on reading books that i’ve bought and i really want to get around to. I’ve spent a lot of money on books this year, so constantly requesting ARCs is something that i’m just not interested in at the moment. I think there generally needs to be a lot less focus on ARCs and acquiring them. Obviously i know it’s important for collectors, and there are definite perks to trading ARCs within the community, however using ARCs as a currancy for our community isn’t working and is disrespecting the author, publishers, each other, and the book.
YALC opened up my eyes this year more to ARCs and the issues surrounding them. I haven’t talked a whole lot about YALC this year because i don’t want to get in to my opinions. However, i wanted to touch on the improvments that were made with ARC releases happening via raffle mostly. This is a really fair way to give out ARCs at an event, and i only took ones that i was extremely excited about and had a chance at reading before the release date, in order to promote them.
It makes me sad to know there is so much negativity and competition around ARCs. I really hope there is a big improvement in the community, where the answer to this problem isn’t just publishers not sending ARCs to bloggers anymore. I hope that the future for ARCs is a little more trusting from the publishers as the community puts a little less weight on their meaning. Yeah, it’s really cool to have an early copy of a book you’re excited for. But once you’ve read it, and unless you adored it, put it in the recycling and support the author even more by buying the book.