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!