As a book reviewer, I read a lot of books before they’re released. It’s more than just getting books before they’re released. It’s about reading some great reads, sharing your thoughts, and hopefully helping the rest of the community pick that book as a favorite.
Recently there has been some controversy over the number of ARCs publishers hand out. If you weren’t aware, ARCs (or advanced reader copies) are pretty expensive and limited. They are also uncorrected proofs, so what you read isn’t what you’re going to get in the final product. Also, there are some arbitrary rules around owning ARCs because the book isn’t finished. For one, you can’t sell them, you can’t quote them, you can’t do anything other than read them.
So why do people read them and covet them?
For some it’s definitely about the bragging rights. Being given a book well before it’s released is like watching the series finale of Friends before it aired. You have this thing that no one else can have and only a few chosen have received. It’s a pretty cool sight.
For most, it’s a book that you’re excited to read and can’t wait to see what it’s about.
However, what I’ve been seeing lately are ARCs being sold on eBay for hundreds of dollars. That’s ridiculous! First off, you’re not supposed to sell these ARCs because they’re not the final product. Second, ARCs are a cost on the publisher’s dime. The author doesn’t make any money and you’re basically pirating a book for way more than its cover cost on the date of publication. Is it worth it to read the next installment of your favorite Fantasy series at $500 a pop?
So publishers have been pulling back on who exactly they hand these ARCs out to. I don’t know what goes into the request process, but I do know that publishers are looking for bloggers who specifically review books, they have a large following, and their interest is in reading books and not hawking them for way more than they’re physically worth.
Over the past year of reading ARCs for publishers, I found that eGalleys are way better than physical ARCs. This is a PDF file of the book you’re requesting instead of an actual copy of the book. Yes, physical copies of a book are better for holding and annotating and even taking photos of, but what do you do with those ARCs after you’re done? What if you don’t like the book?
In the controversy over ARCs, I would much prefer reading the digital version of the book. eGalleys are easily downloaded to my e-reader of choice, I can remove them from my reader once I’m done and I don’t have yet another book on my TBR pile staring at me every night.
The controversy over selling ARCs is also diminished when you have a digital version of it. I don’t think publishers do this, but they can easily lock their books or have them on a timer to expire after a certain time. This way, the book will never be sold, copied, or even unread.
Another really great reason is because sites like Edelweiss or NetGalley doesn’t require you to write that marketing letter about how great you are and send them to publishers. Of course there are books that aren’t being put on these galley sites, but they do have a mass majority of the ones the publishers are excited about reading.
And if I really loved the book, I can wait until it comes out and own the hardback. You would have two copies of the book for the price of one.
I find this to be a much more efficient way to read these advanced books without having to keep physical copies around. Naturally, I still love receiving ARCs and also love the amount of work and effort marketing teams put into creating these books. However, I really love being able to quickly request a book on NetGalley. It has all my credentials and it updates it while my social media grows. The publishers can see all of that and make the decision to approve or deny me a copy of the galley. It’s so easy and so perfect that it rarely matters to me if I get the actual book.
Even with photography, I’ve stylized my eGalleys with books so that it looks a little bit prettier and the results have been pretty successful in the past.
I know many of you will disagree with me here, but you have to admit that eGalleys are just more convenient than the actual ARC sometimes. Perhaps I’m more pragmatic than the normal book reader. Also, I’ve basically given up on emailing publishers and will take what I can get.