Thursday, February 18, 2010

ARCs On Their Way Out?

Agent Kristen (of Nelson Literary Agency, Ally Carter's agent, for example) made a rather surprising post late last week regarding one of her clients (unnamed) and a publisher (also unnamed).

The unnamed title of this unnamed author was not getting issued ARCs by the unnamed publisher. Well, she's getting electronic copies, you'd say, right? Nope. Not even those. Only finished, bound manuscripts and only upon request.

Said publisher claims that ARCs are too costly to keep generating. I'm not going to argue with that one. They are very costly (another issue to drill into the brains of new book bloggers). Electronic copies? While straining on the eyes and definitely not a favored method of reading for many book bloggers, it would still provide an opportunity for the book to get read and reviewed. And honestly, how much could it possibly cost to format a type-set ARC into a pdf? I want to guess substantially less than binding an ARC. But to not even offer that? How would you feel as an author? Unsupported, maybe? Like a jock strap losing its elasticity?

Will other publishers follow? Dear god, I hope not. I mean, look what our collective voices can do for a book. Yes, ARCs cost money, but the publicity they generate when put in the right hands should recoup that cost, shouldn't it? It's hard enough for an author to get the word out about their book with advanced copies. Why not just slap on some cement shoes and toss them in the river if you're not going to offer any kind of advance copy, tangible or digital.

I know I will gladly take a digital copy of a book if it meant saving ARC distribution altogether. Of course I favor a nice solid paper copy in my hands but if it means letting us get the word out about awesome books, hand over that pdf. I'll take it. And the Kindle that goes with it.

15 comments:

April (BooksandWine) said...

I love my Sony Reader precisely for the purpose that if digital ARCs are the wave of the future, I am prepared. That, and it's pink :-P


I agree with you though, it sounds like they just love the cement shoes.

Mandy said...

The only problem with ARC ebooks is, once its out there, theres no stopping it from being illegally distributated on the internet. It's hard enough for already released books, but if ARC's start circling around more, sells will plumate. At least, thats my opinion.

Morgan said...

I'm not a big fan of reading a book on the internet but I love my Kindle 2. I guess I can see where you're coming from when saying you'de rather have a pape copy-I agree.

Morgan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Arya said...

That sucks. How else can they get publicity without review copies?

choco (In Which a Girl Reads) said...

Oh dear.

But in the some way, I can see their point of view--like you said, ARCs are horribly expensive. And a lot of new bloggers don't understand that and go off requesting ARCs like crazy. That's why I wouldn't ever request an ARC directly--because of the cost.

But you're right, ceasing production altogether doesn't seem like a very good idea--I've seen the buzz that ARCs can create and I don't think it's a good idea to do without it completely.

Great post!

Ari said...

Even as a new blogger I can understand where they are coming from with this, however I think that this is purely insane. I agree that with out ARC's most likely the buzz will decrease a bit. And also I agree with Mandy's comment about the illeagal distribution. Granted there have been times I have requested a ARC but that is simply because I already have a connection that was formed with the author. Other than that, never. But really, I think that it will be a bit of a problem. Most people think owning an ARC is an amazing thing. Holding contests and what not for ARC's are what cause people to go, "okay I couldnt get an ARC like I wanted, but the book sounds good so Ill go get it." With out the ARC that probably wont happen.

Wings said...

as a person who doesnt review arcs anyway (because im not big enough for it to impact) it doesnt affect me much

BUT i had hoped to be able to have the opportunity in the future...so it sucks in that respect.

ARCs are horrendously expensive to produce. which is why i have never and will never request them.

but i dont think they should be scraped all together. because arcs generate alot of publicity.

there are other ways i suppose, but as a writer, id feel cheated if i wasnt allowed to give arcs if and when i get published.

Rebecca Herman said...

I review ARCs, I don't request a huge number but I do request obscure titles from a genre I want to promote because the obscure titles are never offered and I do love the genre and want to promote it... but anyway, if there were no more print ARCs I'd just buy the finished book to read/review... I hate hate hate ebooks. But having no ARCs at all print or digital seems like a BAD idea for publicity and also to catch errors. Now I kinda wonder what publisher this is.... I guess if I notice a certain publisher is sending out very few ARCs maybe I will guess.

April (BooksandWine) said...

Hey Donna, forgive me for coming back and leaving another comment, but as per ebooks, there are ways to protect the ebook from being distributed illegally. For example, NetGalley uses DRM, makes it impossible to copy the file, and also the file expires after a certain amount of time, so you can't open it at all.

I don't mean to underestimate pirates though.

On the other hand, I almost never request ARCs (have only requested 4) unless you count entering those shelf awareness giveaways, so this sort of affects me, but not to a huge extent. I think it completely sucks for authors, as why would you purchase their book without reading a review first, a lot of the time huge amounts of buzz are generated by reviews, and yes I have bought plenty of books based on reviews (see: The Help, Hunger Games, Graceling, The Knife of Never Letting Go, Vampire Academy, and the list, goes on and on and on). As a consumer, I don't know where I'd stand without reading advance reviews by bloggers.

Mary Ann DeBorde said...

Hi Donna :) Wanted to let you know you'e got an award at my site!

PS - I can't blame the publishers with the cost of everything being so high these days, but I would really miss those ARCs ...

DarkWyrm said...

ARC's are definitely pricey, but I agree that doing away with them means losing publicity buzz, and it doesn't help that most book reviewers shun e-books.

Personally, I'm a new kid on the review block and don't mind e-books simply because digital print is here to stay, even if it doesn't mean the death of "conventional" books as some are predicting.

You would think the publishers could come up with something more economical.

Donna said...

According to Kristin, it's one publisher and all of their titles not having ARCs. I understand how everyone wants to pinch pennies in a market like this but there has to be a better way to do it. Cut down on the number of ARCs, limit who they're sent to, things like that.

I'd had to see book sales suffer because people couldn't get copies to review them.

Rebecca Herman said...

Donna - from what I read that publisher isn't getting rid of ALL ARCs just ARCs of books that get released as Mass Market Paperbacks. So I think their hardcovers will still get ARCs but the books that start out as paperbacks lose out.

Jennifer G. said...

I'll take it. And the Kindle that goes with it.

Hee hee! I know this is a serious thing, but this made me smile. I've received a few ARCs on the GoodReads first reads giveaways, and I've been glad to review them. I don't know how much of a difference I've made, but collectively, even small blogs can make a difference in sales. I still feel like my blog is too small to go requesting ARCs from a publisher, but I had hoped to get there in the future. I hate reading on my computer, but I'd be willing to give it a try on a Kindle. Now if I could just get someone to give me one...

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