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ARCs are no fun

Leonicka Valcius: ARCs are no fun

Thursday, June 28, 2012

ARCs are no fun

Whenever I mention how badly I want to read Throne of Glass, someone immediately points me to NetGalley to request an advance copy. But I don’t want an ARC. I’m more than happy to wait for the book to come out. 

Receiving ARCs feels like being part of a secret club. You get early access to exclusive content and you have to be “chosen” to receive them. Of course I was enamored with the idea when I first learned about it—who doesn’t like being special?  But after being in the club for a while, I found that ARCs aren’t as fun as I expected.

As a blogger:
ARCs are incredibly expensive to make and are part of the marketing and publicity plan of the book. When a publisher sends them out they are expecting something in return, an ROI so to speak. Maybe it’s because I’m in the industry. Maybe it’s because I have seen a profit and loss chart and a marketing budget. For whatever reason, I am really self-conscious about being a loss to the publisher. I’m not the book editor at a major magazine. Even by blogging standards my stats are negligible.  So whenever I get an ARC I try to go above and beyond to promote it. It’s exhausting and it’s a lot of (self-inflicted?) pressure. I tweet as much as I can, I share info about the author/publisher on Facebook, and write fun, unique reviews*.  Luckily, I have not read an ARC that I disliked. What a nightmare it would be if I did! I am fueled by passion so I usually only review books I love or hate. My review of a mediocre book would be awful: “I got this book for free. It was okay, I guess.  I give it 3 stars. Read it if you want.” 

My blog is supposed to be a hobby not a chore, a respite not a responsibility.  Sometimes the ARCs are more hassle than they’re worth, for both parties. Has anyone ever bought a book because of my blog posts? I’m not sure. I probably would be more useful to the publisher if I just bought the book.

*Some bloggers have an “I’m not obligated to review every book I receive” policy, but I don’t. I find it a bit disingenuous since (unless you’re a really big deal) free books don’t just show up on your doorstep without your approval. Not writing a review is akin to not holding up your end of the deal.

As a reader:
Reading ARCs is lonely. The problem with exclusive content is that it’s exclusive. What’s the fun in reading a great book if you no one else can gush over it with you? I can’t be the only one who likes to discuss the books I read. (If I were there would not be book clubs.) You can’t really do that with an ARC. All you can say is “You’re gonna love this!” Well, that’s not true. You can post small quotes out of contexts but publishers may not like that and it just confuses everyone who hasn’t read the book. You can also try to gush with the author (via Twitter or Facebook. Yay technology!) but they have a totally different relationship with the book so the fellowship is not the same. So in the end you’re left all alone, twiddling your thumbs, trying not to post spoilers, all while wanting scream, “I wanna share mah feels! Why haven’t you read this book yet?!” Oh yeah. It doesn’t come out for another six months. Womp womp womp.

When Throne of Glass is finally on sale, I will go to a bookstore and buy it. If I love it as much as I think I will, I’ll write a blog post about it. Not because I feel indebted to the publisher, but because I want to share my passion with others. Then I will go on Tumblr and Facebook and everywhere else that fans congregate and we’ll use caps and exclamation points to discuss the merits of the book. And it will be awesome. No ARCs involved.

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