Advance Reading Copies: To sell or not to sell them

Fantasy author Stephen Deas wrote an interesting post on his blog. He isn't particularly pleased by the fact that someone is selling an ARC he was kind enough to autograph for five times the book's worth three months before its pub date. Deas has written The Adamantine Palace (Canada, USA, Europe), The King of the Crags (Canada, USA, Europe), as well as the forthcoming The Thief-Taker's Apprentice (Canada, USA, Europe).

Here's an excerpt from his blog post:

The question is, do I mind?

On one level yes, simply because ARCs state that they are NOT FOR RESALE and so selling them on e-bay is riding roughshod over the wishes of the publisher, who presumably supplied said ARC free and gratis and entirely at their own expense. And my publisher is my friend and if you upset my publicist, you upset me in a big sticking together all-on-the-same-team group-hugging kind of way.

But should I care? Exactly how does an author, lose out? So what if it’s on sale on eBay? Seriously, is there anyone so desperate to read The Thief-Taker’s Apprentice that they’re prepared to pay five times the recommended retail price just to get it three months early? No. So it’s going to go to a collector who’s only interested in it because it’s an expensive and a rarity. In fact, signing the ARC is a marginal win for me, isn’t it, since it pushes the price up and ensures that the book isn’t bought by a casual reader who might otherwise have bought a copy from a shop. Since that ARC would otherwise presumably have languished in a box and might now be read, leading to the (unlikely, perhaps, but still extant) possibility of enthusiasm, further book purchases, reviews, etc., strictly I think I should be pleased it’s on e-bay instead of in a box.

Well I’m not. Publication day is three months away, the ARC is in ‘fine unread condition’ (one therefore assumes no review will be forthcoming). Britobooks, you have cost me nothing, but your don’t-give-a-shit attitude is rude and makes my publicist sad. I wave my private parts at you, fart in your general direction and speak your name to my friends in Her Majesties Revenue and Customs.

My advice to Deas would be: Create your own eBay account and put a couple of your own ARCs for sale. Offer to personalize the copy and sell it for a fraction of what the other guy is asking. Being undersold, the culprit won't make a dime and you get the last laugh.

Interestingly enough, every time I sat down to chat with editors and publicists in the past, this topic always found a way to creep up. I never sell my ARCs and review copies. Instead, I donate them to libraries. It has nothing to do with altruism, truth to tell. It's more a question of my being too lazy to haul my ass off to the post office and dealing with all the crap involved in selling stuff on eBay or Amazon. True, I feel that the genre has given me a lot over the years, and it's my own small way to give something back. But it's inevitable that some people will use the opportunity to make quick and easy money.

SFF galleys are much easier to get these days, what with some publishers sending them out to every blogger out there, regardless of the fact that some of them receive a dozen visitors a day. The proliferation of online venues means more ARCs going around, which means that more people who wouldn't normally have access to such copies must now face the temptation of selling them to the highest bidders instead of reading the reviewing them. In light of this, I feel that some publishers must share the blame.

But in the end, this will remain a recurrent problem. And though it's a pain in the butt for authors, publicists, and editors, I don't think it's widespread enough to be detrimental to publishers. It's more akin to the pile of dog poop one must avoid while walking on the sidewalk. . .

4 commentaires:

-Tim said...

I once tried to sell an ARC (only the one time too, I might add) that someone gave me of Suzanne Collins "Catching Fire" and her publisher sent a take-down notice to eBay forcing the removal of the sale.

Interestingly enough it was up to almost $100, three days before the auction was over and 5 months before publication.

Now I just keep them, read/review them or pass them on to someone who may appreciate it more than I.

Adam Whitehead said...

"The proliferation of online venues means more ARCs going around, which means that more people who wouldn't normally have access to such copies must now face the temptation of selling them to the highest bidders instead of reading the reviewing them."

In addition, the Amazon Vine programme has seen many, many ARCs get into the hands of 'normal' Amazon customers who, not having blogs, websites or publisher relationships, have considerbly less reason or incentive not to sell on their ARCs at a profit. Most, obviously, don't do this.

My approach, and one I know many other UK-based bloggers take, is to wait until the book has been on sale for a while and then give the ARC to a charity shop. You don't profit, some money goes to charity and someone else gets to enjoy the book. I don't see much that is wrong with that.

Dovile said...

One another way is to swap ARCs on one of the many online book-swap sites. You won't be selling it, so there won't be any difference for the author and the publisher financially, and you also get another book for your ARC.

I'm on BookMooch.com and have seen a lot of various ARCs offered there. I'm not interested in them myself, but they usually go pretty quickly, usually to ARC collectors. Of course, if a book being an ARC is specified in its condition notes, that is.

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