The Downside of ARCs


I have had this post scheduled for the future to make my life a little easier while I am in England, but thanks to the #Back2BasicsBlogging chat, I have decided to post it now. I would recommend looking at this hashtag if you have not seen it yet because it is very uplifting.

2016 is going to be the year of eARCs for me. Let me tell you why...ARCs (advanced reader copies for those who do not know what they are) are awesome-sounding, but there's many drawbacks to them. 

Disclaimer: This post is full of my opinions as a blogger, and I do not intend to offend anyone. Feel free to disagree, but I ask that we keep this post as a positive, healthy forum for discussion.

1. ARCs take up so much room!
I have very limited bookshelf space. Most of my time I spend in tiny dorm rooms that barely have enough room for all of my stuff, let alone piles of books! I can save so much clutter by not freaking out about ARCs anymore. Furthermore, my books have started to spill into common spaces in my house and I know it stresses out my parents, so this will benefit all parties involved. There has been more than one occasion where they have angrily noted a pile of books in a place that books probably shouldn't be, and it's not something worth arguing over anymore.

2. It is easy to be greedy.
In the end, I get why ARCs are cool. They're an advance book, so we don't have to wait as long, and they aren't free because they have strings attached to them, but they don't cost us any money directly. As a college student that truly doesn't have a lot of money, that's appealing to me. Heck, I am sure it's appealing to anyone that may even have a full-time job. Books before they come out?! Yes please! And they are free?! Awesome! This sounds so cool, and it's easy to get swept up in greed because of it. Coming home to a book on your door step?! Best feeling ever! Because of this, it is so easy to be grabby, and it is hard to take a step back and really ask yourself if you need this?

I tend to forget that eARCs are free too. Just because I do not see them physically and they sit in my Kindle app on my iPad, I forget they exist. And I need to stop doing that because there's less greed, less grabbiness, less room being wasted in my home because of how awesome they are.

3. Accepting an ARC is an obligation to post a review.
As a mood reader, I suck with keeping tight schedules. I can't promise that my mind is going to be in the mood to read whatever book I have to read in the moment. Because of this, I only accept blog tours for books I really, really want.

I have noticed there is this claim from a lot of bloggers that just because they accept an ARC for review or request it from a review request sheet, that does not guarantee a review. If it's unsolicited, fine, you don't owe a publisher anything, but if it is requested there is this obligation behind posting a review and a guilt if you do not. And, if I am being honest, I think that sense of obligation is proper. ARCs are more expensive to print than the average book that you see on shelves, and they are very low in quantity. To get one is a privilege, so when a publisher sends one out it isn't crazy for them to expect a review or some publicity on your blog in return, if that makes sense. That's where our sense of obligation comes from. I know not everyone is going to agree with me on this point, but I stand firm in this specific opinion, especially after understanding how hard it is to determine where to send a limited quantity of ARCs to via internship experience.

It is so much less stressful to just not accept ARCs unless you 100% know you will read them or to cut your physical TBR down. So much less guilt from beating yourself up over obligations...and also the book gets to go to someone who will read it, too. 

4. ARCs lead to negativity and have divided us as a community.
This is something I think a lot of us think, but don't necessarily say out loud. We have dealt with many issues as a community regarding ARC envy. People get attacked for posting STS posts, you see someone else with an ARC and immediately think that you want it too. It is natural. But I think that this negativity is what divides us as a community. At times it feels like there's a very distinct line between the "old" bloggers and the "new" bloggers. Since I am coming up on four years, I am firmly in the "old" blogger camp.

I do not want to use the word entitlement, but I feel that many "old" bloggers have gotten used to certain connections so it is weird when said connections do not come through for them. Again, even I am guilty of this. They look at a coveted ARC that has been sent out and think, "why did I not get this?" Meanwhile, a newer blogger may be given a chance to get that ARC making an older blogger wonder, "why did someone with less followers get this book?" I have seen it happen on Twitter countless times. When typically it is the newer bloggers hoping to get ARCs at all because older bloggers have been so cemented into their contacts that may not be looking to expand their lists at this moment. This divide is not just about when you started blogging, but about your connections. Why does this divide even exist? It shouldn't. This is a community to talk about books and we should just talk to everyone about out opinions without worrying about where we stand in the community.

I think if we placed less value on ARCs as a community, we would be saving so much anger and resentment towards one another and we can come together more. ARCs are cool, but less than 1% of the population of the world probably even know they exist, let alone have access to them, AND EVERY ARC IS ONE DAY GOING TO BE A REAL BOOK ON SHELVES. I am certainly guilty of forgetting this, and I think we all need to remind ourselves of that every now and then. Especially when we are coveting an ARC that, realistically, we may not ever pick up.

~*~*~

I am choosing to remove ARCs from my life for 2016 for a multitude of reasons. I am tired of the negativity and obligation that comes with them. I am spending 5/12 months this year on another continent, and I won't have the space for them. I barely managed to read 55 books in 2015, do I really need 60+ ARCs in 2016? This is a step I am taking to make blogging more fun and less obligatory, and I'd be lying if I said it didn't make my parents' lives easier too! haha

I am ready to embrace the wonder of eARCs!

The downside of ARCs may be different for everyone, but this is what I perceive to be the downside of them after years of reflection as an industry intern and a blogger. I think that I will be happier without as many ARCs in my life. If I have an eARC connection, I do not need an ARC, and I am going to stick by this new rule for myself now. 2016, be good to me! I never thought I'd say this, but I have too many books in my house right now!

11 comments:

  1. They do take up a lot of room, I haven't received many in the mail but the few I have take up some room on my already over packed book shelf. I am a mood reader too, so keeping up with schedules to make sure all my ARCs get read and reviewed on time is a drag and puts me in slumps. I received one ARC in the mail (It was unsolicited) that I felt so bad about not reviewing, they were kind enough to send it so me but I just didn't have the time at the moment read it before its publication date. I am guilty of looking at older bloggers with envy sometimes. I think it is a natural thing. But I really agree how it divides us as a community.

    Great post Lili!

    Amber | The Book Bratz

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    1. Being a mood reader is both a blessing and a curse. It makes it hard to follow a schedule but it means you like a lot of what you read unless the book turns out to be something you didn't expect it to be. Unfortunately, this happened to me a few times this year! :(

      Envy is natural for everyone, but I think that if ARCs weren't such a big deal to us (they weren't such a big thing when I started blogging so idk why they had such an extreme shift in value recently) there would be no place for envy or division.

      ARCs are pesky things that bring out strong emotions...that's for sure!

      Thank you for stopping by Amber!

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  2. "If it's unsolicited, fine, you don't owe a publisher anything, but if it is requested there is this obligation behind posting a review and a guilt if you do not. And, if I am being honest, I think that sense of obligation is proper. "

    I totally agree. I think it's downright rude to say, "Yes please I want this book! ....and maaaaybe I'll review it."

    I get that things happen and sometimes you may not get around to reading a book. That's okay. But I believe you should always request with the INTENTION of reviewing.

    If you end up not reviewing it, that's okay. Stuff happens. Things get in the way. Blah blah. But that original intention should be that you planned on reading and reviewing it.

    Don't request if you're not sure you'll actually read it.

    I pretty much stopped requesting ARCs because I've been reading so much less lately. I don't want to keep up with obligations. I just read what I want, whenever I want.

    If I do request a book, then I only do one at a time and make sure I plan on reading that book IMMEDIATELY. Otherwise... I'll wait until publication.

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    1. YES! I was struck at how many times I was working at my last internship people would respond to blogger pitches saying "If I am sent a copy I will consider it for review." And I kind of just sat there confused wondering if that meant they were accepting the pitch or not. There are just so few galleys in the world that it's hard to figure out who to send to except those that you already have the strongly established relationships with.

      I have taken to only working through my eARCs at this point and requesting books I desperately want (AGOS and TSS for instance because I am a huge Schwab fangirl!) But even then, I am guilty of being a bad blogger when it comes to ARCs. I've recently done a huge cleanse of donating over 100 books to my high school and I plan on coming back to England with only 5-7 more books (depends on the events I attend) because I just don't have the space anymore.

      If I ever attend a con again, I also plan on limiting myself to how many books I can pick up due to shipping!

      I think writing this post has just made me a more aware blogger when it comes to such things. So I prioritize my ARCs just like you.

      Love your comments as always <3 Thanks for stopping by Ashley! Cannot wait to see you in London one of these days!

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  3. I absolutely HATE HATE HATE it when bloggers don't review books they requested. I know people that have piles of ARCs dating back 6 months or something that they simply just collect for the sake of taking pictures with it and without any intentions of actually reading them anytime soon. I'd like to think that I'm a responsible blogger and review everything I request at least within 2 months of the receipt of the book. It's a business contract to me and I think it's so so so irresponsible and unprofessional to just collect them because they're ~ free.

    - Jen from The Bookavid

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    1. It's good that you feel passionate about this, but I think it is unfair to assume people request books simply to collect them and take pictures with them. It's a waste of so much space on their part. I think that most books are genuinely requested with the intention of reading them because they sound so interesting and it just so happens people may then request, like, 14 that all release within two weeks of each other by accident and they then pick and choose priority books and whatnot. The point of this post is maybe a suggestion for people to be more AWARE of this as to not take the books away from someone else (like you!) who they may be an absolute priority for.

      There's also the possibility of wanting to read a book, picking it up, and realizing it just doesn't click. Some people do not believe in DNF reviews, so it's hard to track how often this happens.

      And even at book events (I am 100% guilty of this) it is easy to be grabby and then go back and look at it realizing you will never get to all these books. I try to donate all my unread/unfinished books to my old high school, libraries, and hospitals with children's wards. I know many other bloggers that accumulate a lot of books through old connections that are now unsolicited that host giveaways, donate them, or lend them out to other bloggers in exchange for review. If this is something you're interested in, you should find bloggers who do that. Then it could be mutually beneficial to you both!

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  4. I think ARCs are such bittersweet things. Yeah, it's SUPER COOL to get a book early. But do you know how many times I actually read an ARC before the release date? Not often. Between school and reading and already being behind on what I'm supposed to read, it all just keeps piling up. I have all these ARCs from an ALA Midwinter I went to where I had a horrible case of grabby hands, and I've only read a very, very small percentage of them. I've even gotten ARCs directly from authors who saw how much I wanted their book, and they've since been published and I STILL haven't read them. I got a bit better at requesting ARCs last year, but I need to get even better this year. Also, I DON'T HAVE ROOM FOR THEM. I don't even have room for my regular books. Great post, by the way! I've been thinking about writing a post on ARCs--especially with all the fuss and drama and #booksfortrade stuff--so it's encouraging to see someone else do it, too!

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  5. Great post! Articulates everything I feel about getting ARCs in a reasoned manner :)

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  6. I've been working on being a whole lot pickier (and practical) about the ARCs that I request or accept for review! I always, always, ALWAYS appreciate the books that I receive early copies of for review, and I personally like making an extra effort to read and review them within a month of release date. (I feel that's only fair, since I was the one who requested or agreed to accept it.) But I've been rediscovering the freedom in turning to my own shelves (books I own or borrowed from the library) and choosing from those too! It's less obligation, in its own way, and I'm starting to fall in love with that too.

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  7. So I read this post and LOVED it. And I keep trying to think of what I want to say in this comment and then I'm blanking. So I'll just say this: You make some EPIC points about space issues, obligations to publishers, etc. I loved this post! (Sorry, I seriously can't think of anything else I want to say, but I really wanted to comment, haha)

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  8. This is such a great discussion. I have to say for your third point, I do things differently. I am also a mood reader, and it's in my review policy that I don't review to a deadline. I *do* review the books I accept, but it might take a while to get to them. Publishers know this and are fine with it; I don't read a book I don't fancy right now, and they get their book highlighted again several months after publication (For example). It works for me, and they're happy for me to review whenever, so I don't feel guilty about the time I read a book. (I've also had a publisher say that they don't necessarily expect a review for the books they send, that it's for considering, for you to be aware of, but this is more the case for unsolicited copies.)

    And point four... I find this really sad that people feel like this. I have good envy? In the sense that, sure, I'd like X book that so and so has, but I know how few there are, and this time they get the book, next time I'll get something else. And I get to read their rave reviews, and can run out to buy it when it's out. I don't really get the envy and negativity. But I don't like the idea that new bloggers are being overlooked because publishers already have enough bloggers. That seems kinda sad. I know you don't blog to get ARCs, but it does feel like they would end up missing out, and would cause a divide. It's not so great.

    But I love the idea of only accepting eARCS! Sadly, over here not all publishers are on NetGalley (and I don't think any UK publisher is on Edelweiss?), so some books are only available for review in physical form. But as you said, I could always buy them when they come out. Really interesting post! It's giving me a lot to think about.

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