The Real Reason I Seek Out ARCs

Occasionally, there is talk about the greediness of book bloggers, hording review copies like Smaug horded treasure, all while not actually purchasing books or having any impact on book sales. Know that I’m not referencing anything specific when I say this, and, no, nothing new happened that I know of, but it’s something I’ve heard around.

As far as the purchase of books goes, you know most of us do. I personally keep a lot of my ARCs, but I buy a lot of new books for other people, and my book blogging has increased my purchase of brand new books exponentially, since I used to buy used books almost exclusively. The impact of bloggers on book sales is something I don’t know, but I assume we have some little impact, even if it is through a ripple effect. I’ve not done a study, but I presume publishers wouldn’t send us ARCs if we didn’t help with book sales at all.

However, that’s not what I’m here to talk about at all, so maybe I should get to the point: the relationships of bloggers to ARCs. If you know some book bloggers, you’ve probably heard them say things like this:

“I would KILL for an ARC of Sarah Dessen’s latest novel. Seriously, who do I have to kill?”
“Why does X publisher hate me? They never send me ARCs. #fml”
“Who do I have to sleep with to get an ARC of A. S. King’s new book, because my body is READY?”
These are slight exaggerations, but comments about how much a reviewer wants a particular ARC are everywhere. Thinking that bloggers are greedy isn’t a huge leap, but, in general, I don’t think that’s what’s going on. There are a lot of reasons to want an ARC of a book:
  1. To get to read it first. I won’t lie to you. Getting to read a book months before publication is pretty awesome, though I don’t get to do it that far in advance all that often myself.
  2. The packages. Listen, one of the best things about getting review copies is that I sometimes find awesome stuff in my mailbox (which would otherwise just have bills, ads for lawn care – I don’t have a lawn btw – and coupons) or boxes on my stoop. It’s a great feeling.
  3. The honor. I feel so awed when an author or publisher sends me books because they want MY feedback.

Still, the whole ARC system has a lot of drama associated with it and has its drawbacks too. I mean, there’s the whole thing with unsolicited ARCs or not having enough time to read all of the review copies that you get. Plus, there’s the issue of jealousy, about which there’s really not much you can do. All I can say is that it’s taken me two and a half years to get to this point.

I feel a little bad about the fact that, though I have more review copies than ever, I am in some ways more desperate for ARCs than ever. Before you start talking about how entitled I am, let me explain. Here’s the thing: reading a book takes time. When I accept a review copy, I am trading my time (in reading and reviewing and promoting that review) in exchange for that book. No, I don’t get to all of them, and I think most bloggers don’t. The ones that show up unsolicited are really hard to plan for and you just can’t get to everything.

My review pile? OH YEAH.

So far this year, I’ve read 64 books (so it’s not like I’m not reading). How many of those weren’t for review? By my count, about 15. I say about because I had a couple of ARCs gifted to me and read them pre-publication, and I’m not sure where to count that as a review copy or not. Of those 15, five were from my Sadie Hawkins Sunday feature, where I let my readers select books for me to read. Another two were reading the first book in a series, having received the second book for review. Aside from my Sadie Hawkins Sunday books, I am currently not reading ANY books that aren’t for review.

What this means is that if I don’t get a review copy of a book, I probably won’t get to read it. Yes, I can just wait and get the book from the library or purchase it. I’ve actually done both of these things, but odds are I will return that book to the library unread or leave that purchased copy sitting on my shelf collecting dust.

I am aware that requesting more review copies because I have too many review copies to get to read books for myself is counter-intuitive. I know this. However, if there’s a book I really want to read, receiving a review copy is, at least at the moment, the only way that book will be happening in my life in the near future. I’ve spoken with other bloggers that feel the same way.

Just to be clear, I’m not complaining about receiving review copies. I love them and I do not begrudge the time spent reviewing them. I just wanted to explain why it is that you might see a blogger alternatively whine about the size of their TBR pile and then mope about not having gotten an ARC of something. We’re not greedy; it’s just that those review copies might be the only chance we have of getting to the book for the foreseeable future.

But, hey, we’ve all got to do what we’ve got to do. So go do your thing and have as much fun as you can while you do it! Book blogging is fun, so enjoy it!

At least that’s how it works for me. What are your thoughts on this? Do you hope for review copies? If so, why?

On an unrelated note, make the Veronica Mars movie happen by contributing to the Kickstarter! If you haven’t seen Veronica Mars, fix that.

52 responses to “The Real Reason I Seek Out ARCs”

  1. Natalie says:

    I read the post and you definitely make some points, but my main concern is this: are all the Veronica Mars gifs in honor of the fantastic announcement of the Kickstarter campaign today? Because I really hope so.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    • Christina says:

      Ha, I bought a finished copy of The Days of Blood and Starlight and PROMISED myself I would read it as soon as I finished my book challenge last year. Still haven’t read it. Oops!

  3. You hit the nail on the head. It’s been a very long time since I’ve read a book that wasn’t for review. (Next week, however… Yay for Clockwork Princess!)

    Great post!

  4. Oh fuck me. Stupid blogger ate my comment.

    So here’s what I said: I strictly read ARCs except for you know, audiobooks and the final copies that get set to me, but I still purchase books like crazy and I often purchase books where I’ve received ARC copies. Something something vicious cycle. But I love it anyways.

    It is what it is.
    The end.

    • Christina says:

      It is a vicious cycle, but as vicious cycles go it’s pretty harmless. Most of the ones I read just for fun were audiobooks. Also a couple for readalongs, and that’s all the books I read that weren’t for review so far this year.

      I’ve been having trouble with the comments this morning. X_X

  5. I don’t receive unsolicited review copies, so I don’t have this problem :P. The few ARCs I do receive/ask for, I try to give away or donate to an ARC tour site to spread the word. Otherwise I hope for my most anticipated books to appear on that ARC tour site, and/or I have pre-ordered them, and/or I’ve decided to wait a few months and check if my library has an available copy. And if I LOVE the book, then yeah I’ll buy it, but in terms of hoarding the ARC? Well, it’s generally a part of a tour site, so (A) that doesn’t happen, and (B) that criticism generally seems to come from people who do not understand how hard book bloggers work for NO money. So I don’t think having a few ARCs is all that bad.

    As for you requesting the ARCs you’re most anticipating, do it. You might not get a chance to read it otherwise… You’ll burn yourself out book blogging, reading copies of things you don’t care about… And you’ll lose sight of your own enjoyment of reading if *you* don’t get to choose the books you want to read.

    • Christina says:

      Ha, ARC tours work really well for some people, and that’s awesome. I’ve only done three and it ended up being a huge headache every single time, so I cannot even handle that. But I know a few bloggers who get several ARC tour books a week and love that.

      I do request some of the ones I’m really anticipating, but not as many as you might think based on the need to get it off my chest. Mostly, I let my review pile win, but I might make more of a concerted effort to pay attention to my favorites.

  6. KM says:

    I’ve been cutting back on review copies recently, but before I started doing that and I was getting ARCs from a number of publishers, I really tried to balance books I bought with ones I received for review. I’ve never felt all that bound by release dates in terms of review books…but that’s probably why I never got to be one of those “big time” bloggers. But honestly, there were just too many that I never received for review that I HAD to read, especially series books. I would put anything on hold to read those.

    As of now, I only get physical ARCs from Harper Collins and Strange Chemistry, so it shouldn’t be that difficult to keep up with them…but it totally is. At this point, I’ve come to terms with the fact that I’m a mood-reader, so I have to be in the mood for something to read it. As long as I’m not on a blog tour where I have to post a review (which I don’t do anymore), I’ve made peace with the fact that if I get to it, I get to it…and if I don’t, oh well!

    …I’m a bit cavalier about it all if you haven’t noticed haha

    • Christina says:

      Ah, I can’t do that. I feel WAY to guilty if I don’t at least try my ARC before giving up on it. Haha.

      Harper has a lot of books. If you get most of them, just that would be quite a few books a year! Thankfully, I’m not much of a mood reader. I’m pretty indecisive, so having a set schedule helps me not stop reading when I can’t decide what I’m in the mood for. I just have to keep reading. You should watch how long it takes me to choose a book if I do have time for a freebie read. It’s PATHETIC.

      Which is cool!

    • That is starting to become my attitude toward them too. I’ve always been a mood reader, just felt a bit bad at this pile in my closet! lol.

  7. We have talked about this so you already know I agree! Nowadays, if I’m going to the library it’s for two reasons: my kids or I must really like the author enough to put my entire ARC pile on hold to check out their book that I didn’t get for a review.

    I told myself that this month I was going to dedicate reading time to books I’ve been meaning to get to, but the month is already halfway over and I haven’t had a chance to get to them (even tho I’ve had to renew them all twice now). I’ll probably only get to one of them now because I have blog tour books that I actually *have* to read. And I’m a slow reader with children. That doesn’t exactly help my case. So I think I’ll end up saying fuck it and just purchase them all (which basically means they’ll sit on my shelf and collect dust).

    Unsolicited ARCs are a blessing and a curse. I feel bad sometimes for getting books I know I’m probably not going to review or if I do, it’s going to be a while.

    • Oh, and I don’t want to see my UPS guy for the rest of the week.

    • Christina says:

      I still go to the library and am like SURELY I CAN READ THIS. Answer: no. You can’t. Oh well, I’m supporting the library by inflating the stats. This is me helping!

      At least you will soon have a bookshelf where the books can collect dust. That will be an improvement.

      Those make me feel bad too, but there’s NOTHING better than an unsolicited ARC you were super excited about. It’s like your birthday!

      Haha, he’s totally going to be back!

  8. I am making more of an effort these days to read the books I buy, but those shiny ARCs are such temptresses …

  9. Giselle says:

    Exaggeration? Not even! I’ve seen tweets almost exactly like the ones you have here O_O I might even say I saw worse! lol

    Getting packages is definitely my favorite part! I love getting stuff in the mail (except bills >.<) it's like xmas morning!! “if I don’t get a review copy of a book, I probably won’t get to read it” Sadly, same here. Except for audiobooks that I listen to while working, all the books I read are for review. I will indulge maybe 10-15 books a year that are me-books. Oh well, first world problems! >.< I think you’ve said everything everyone feels like and don’t want to admit to be honest lol

    • Christina says:

      Hahaha, well, I wanted to cover my ass. It’s not like we would ACTUALLY murder someone or prostitute ourselves for ARCs….probably.

      Packages are so happy. I literally get nothing else interesting in the mail. It’s just bills and ads.

      They’re seriously first world problems, but I just get sad when people talk about how evil bloggers are for wanting ARCs when often we might not get to read the book otherwise.


  10. Molli Moran says:

    I’d be lying if I said that I don’t covet ALL the ARCs. I’d also be lying if I said I don’t do a little dance when I get a UPS notification, or when a surprise review book shows up. I LOVE getting ARCs. It blows me away that anyone would send me ANYTHING.

    BUT. Like you said, a LOT of times, between books I request, books that I already own, and SO many books coming out that I want to read, if I don’t read it for review, chances are I WON’T read it, like you said. I’m getting to the point where I’m slowly changing that, but it’s going to take time – I’m already SO over-committed. I basically would need like a month of just all reading all the time to truly get “caught up” between books I accepted via review request before I closed those, and galleys, and the like. UGH.

    So yeah, it’s overwhelming. I cleaned out my GoodReads TBR awhile back and am still working on whittling down to the books I REALLY want to read instead of “oooh, shiny cover, I’ll add it!”

    Molli | Once Upon a Prologue

    • Christina says:

      I’ve gotten to the point where I’m mindful enough about my time that I don’t quite covet ALL of them, but I have really wide tastes, so even trying to be careful, I want a lot of books. Like, my wishlist of authors I love exclusively is 62 books long. O_O

      Yeah, I gave up e-galleys pretty much entirely. I might need to use them for blog tours from time to time, but that’s it.

      Ha! My GR is for anything that looks interesting. I’ve got like 3500 books on there.

  11. Angie F says:

    I love getting packages in the mail! But they’re never ARCs, unless I won them from another blogger. Well…actually last week I got my first ARC from the author, but it’s for the blog tour, so I don’t really think that counts. Basically, I don’t receive ARCs. I’ve never even requested one. Doing so terrifies me, and I think I’d get rejected anyway since my blog is small. I do get some from NetGalley though, but they get pushed aside for library books. Opposite problem! 😀

    I do read those physical ARCs I get almost right way though, so I can pass them on and get back to my awesome library stash! I actually buy a ton of Kindle books (can’t resist those $0.99 sales!) and those are the books that get ignored by me. I just love the library. Library! Oh wait, this post is about ARCs, right? Yeah…I don’t feel the need to have them, since I’d read my library books first anyway. I do want to request some titles one day, but I doubt I ever will. Now, requesting books from the library is a whole other story…sorry, I really do friggin’ love the library.

    And I’ve never seen Veronica Mars. So I suppose I should take your advice and fix that? Maybe my library has the DVDs. 😛

    • Christina says:

      Packages are the best! I didn’t get many ARCs for review until recently. Most of the ones I get remain adult titles, except for those I get from YA Books Central. Ha, I always pushed aside library books for egalleys! I like your way though.

      Hahaha, I love your devotion to your library stash. It is commendable. I do my part by checking books out and padding stats. Never be sorry for library love!

      OMG, do! Your library is badass!

  12. yes! I completely agree with you, especially when you said that the only way you will be able to read said book is if you get it for review, THAT is why ARCs are so important to us. I have read 27 books and ONLY one book was a non review book.

    Also, LOVE LOVE those Veronica Mars GIFs!! I am so happy at the news of the movie! 😀

    – Juhina @ Maji Bookshelf

  13. cncbooksblog says:

    Durn comment-eater. Let’s try this again.

    Have you been traipsing around in my head? It’s like you know EXACTLY what we all think about these oh-so-tantalizing ARCs and the havoc they create in our reading lives. I do still buy books but, yes, I’m swamped with review books, electronic and print, but I can’t stop asking for more.

    I am so totally jealous of anybody that gets ARCs from any of the Penguin imprints or Disney/Hyperion. Apparently, I offended those gods somehow and earned their rejection. Whatever I did, it must have been really really awful.

    You know, I think we need an addiction program—Arcaholics Anonymous.

    • Christina says:

      Sorry about that. Blogger was being weird yesterday. Ate a couple of my comments too.

      It’s just SO hard for me to turn down books even though I know that I have a million I want to read from the library as well.

      Ha, I get some from Penguin, though up until recently mostly only adult titles. It’s a lot easier to get review copies for adult books, since I guess less bloggers are into those. I have auto-approval on NG for Disney, but I don’t read e-arcs almost ever anymore.

      We do need that. X_X

  14. Even though I do get ARCs, since I started blogging, my book purchasing has exploded (I’d say maybe 3-5x more than before blogging). Still, I want ALL THE ARCs and finished copies and everything. Because I’m a greedy book ‘ho who wants my entire house to be a library, with just enough room left over for a TV. And maybe a fridge.

  15. Tammy Sparks says:

    I agree with everything you said, I get so depressed when I can’t get to the books I want to read, the ones I DON’T get ARCs for. And I’m a HUGE Veronica Mars fan, loves the gifs!

    • Christina says:

      Yup! I miss out on a lot of my favorite authors because I don’t have contacts at those publishing houses. Definitely a first world problem, but I guess I just wanted people who didn’t get it to understand.

  16. My first blogoversary is this month and if I look back at how things have changed, yeah A LOT. I don’t usually get ARCs in the mail, unless I win them somehow, but I would like for that to happen occasionally in the future. I mean, I love packages in the mail. lol But I have been getting accepted more on Edelweiss and Netgalley. So I’m getting more and more review copies. What you said up there about unless a book is a review copy, you may not get to it is exactly how I feel. So many books I was wanting and they are sitting on my shelf gathering dust while I read review copy after review copy. I am a slow reader (wow, 64 books already for you – I bow down to your awesome reading achievements) so I barely get to anything sitting around. It makes me sad. I’m *hoping* to take a break from requesting so I can read some oldies but yeah, that is exactly why even though we have a lot to read, we still want those new ones because we know it might be the only way to we get to read it. Great post! Very well said. 🙂

    • Christina says:

      Congrats on your blogoversary! Things have changed so much from year to year for me. Looking back at the early days of my reviews is embarrassing, but it’s a process.

      NetGalley and Edelweiss are awesome for when you’re just starting out. Actually, NG’s existence helped motivate me to really get the blogging, back when I was awed by the concept of reading a book pre-publication.

      My plan is basically to read faster so I can fit in some freebie books. :-p

  17. Aly says:

    I totally understand how you feel, except in-between the books that I read to review, I have to read a bunch of school books. I feel so guilty because I keep getting books to review. But I love reading and even though it’s overwhelming, I keep getting books. I feel bad when I don’t get to read it for a long time, but I’m not doing it on purpose, and I think that’s the main point. Plus I TRY to spread the love, whether it’s letting people borrow my ARCs, giving them away, or donating them.

    • Christina says:

      Oh yeah, I don’t know how people in college do it. I could not have blogged regularly in school, particularly the first couple of years, because the social calendar is so full. Respect for those that manage. I try to pass my review copies along when I can. I can’t and don’t want to keep everything.

  18. I’m exactly the same way! I find it very difficult to make room for books that I’ve purchased. And yet, I keep buying them. I’ve actually promised myself I would cut down on my requesting on Edelweiss and NetGalley, because the amount of review copies I have to read is crazy. I don’t have so many physical copies since I’m in the UK, but there are a good few unsolicited ones I’d like to get to.

    I’m a bit of a mood reader, but then again I also like sticking to a schedule (Apparently I am more indecisive than you are in that respect XD) and so it’s hard to get to the books that I want to read while sticking to my for-review schedule. So my solution is to stop requesting so many books, but since it’s a vicious cycle, I don’t see myself stopping any time soon. Maybe in time for 2014? Haha.

    • Christina says:

      I’m trying to quit EW and NG completely. I guess if publishing goes to no review copies I might go back to them, but I might just get whatever from the library, but that’s in the future. Oh yeah, things are different in other countries.

      Ha, I doubt I’ll be stopping any time soon, but who knows what tomorrow will bring?

  19. I do buy more books on my own but it’s not like I get ARCs everyday. I usually will win them or get egalleys. I think getting all of these books puts me off buying so much of my own because I have all these books to read. I do like contributing to the book world so I will buy books here and there.
    Love the Veronica Mars references. I got so excited about the movie that I had to go see what that was all about and have a marathon the next day.

  20. I am totally distracted by those Veronica Mars gifs. Bonus points to you.

    You know, I used to really love ARCs and want them all the time. But as I started receiving them, I realized that they put a lot more pressure on me than I like. Because of course I feel like I have to read those ARCs first and I don’t like feeling like I HAVE to read anything. I think ARCs are cool so I can hear about new books from other people, but I don’t spend much time wishing I had them (except if it’s for The Moon and More. Because I LOVE Dessen like no other).

    • Christina says:

      I HAD to go with a V Mars theme.

      There are a few people I know who have given up on ARCs entirely because of the stress and sometimes I’m tempted, but, for now, I like them. I’m indecisive enough that it’s nice to have my reads chosen for me, and since I have to get shit done I can’t slump.


  21. I love all of the VMars gifs!
    Also it’s interesting to hear that side of it.

  22. I also completely love getting packages… I’ve tried to bribe my parents to randomly send me their old used books just to get happy packages in the mail >.>

    But your main point is excellent! I have recently stopped accepting review requests and am instead focusing on getting the review pile down. However, I’m still requesting books from Netgalley and publishers because those are the ones I really want to read. I am still finding time to read library books because I’m trying to catch up on 2012 releases, but the shelf books are a lot cause haha.

    Anya @ On Starships and Dragonwings

    • Christina says:

      That is an AWESOME plan. Mail is the best.

      Congrats on making time for library books. I’ll learn to balance things at some point, I think. Still working on it though. At least I like most of the things I read, with some very notable exceptions.

  23. Lilian says:

    “We’re not greedy; it’s just that those review copies might be the only chance we have of getting to the book for the foreseeable future.”

    While I am “kinda” the opposite. I use review books (especially ones for blog tours) as a way to “make” me read a certain book I REALLY want to get to.
    Because all books I own probably won’t be read in the next decade unless I get stuck on a deserted island. Or an apocalypse happens and all the public libraries/bookstores are flooded. BUT there are times when I purposely BORROW a book instead of buying it (or borrowing a book I own) from the library because the three-week deadline MAKES ME READ STUFF. Except I have too much required reading right now and I didn’t manage to finish 100 pages of Marisa Meyer’s Scarlet before having to return it…*tear*

    In my Apocalyptic Fiction class, we were discussing if we would commit suicide in the event of an apocalypse or try to survive. And I thought “Who has time for sucidie? I need to survive as long as I can…I need to finish all these books before I can die in peace!”

    I love getting packages too. Except that time when I was sick with a high fever and nausea. Then I felt annoyed with the packages. “ARGH, I’M SUPER DIZZY AND NOW I HAVE TO FIGURE OUT WHERE TO STUFF THESE BOOKS ON MY BOOKCASE? STRESSSS.” I have significantly reduced my giveaway obsession and review book requesting now until I read my pile. Yesterday I accidentally knocked the pile of books next to my bed, and it hurt. a lot. And then I got frustrated with having to re-stack. hmph. I think this is a sign. I feel like I am playing jenga every time I get a book in the mail.

    Lilian @ A Novel Toybox

    • Christina says:

      Oh geez, I know I’ll die without having read a lot of the books I own and it saddens me. Review copies do make me read stuff, because I feel super guilty when I don’t get them reviewed. Borrowing from the library always trumped my personal books, but review copies trump library.

      YOU HAVE AN APOCALYPTIC FICTION CLASS? That is freaking awesome! In the event of an apocalypse, I would lock myself in a bunker with food and books. Read until I’d finished them all, and then suicide. BOOM.

      Ha, bookshelves are nice. That’s a good thing about having your own place. More space for books.

  24. Lilian says:

    I get paranoid with review books and read them weeks before the post needs to go up because I fear that I will forget. Or to give myself enough time to plow through a book I don’t like.

    YESH. I DO HAVE AN APOCALYPTIC FICTION CLASS. I know some other universities have it too. And because of that class I FINALLY read my first Atwood novel (Oryx and Crake) I hope to get to the sequel (since I happen to own a copy) this year. So maybe I CAN knock at least one book off my bookshelf this year.

    I filled up my bookcase (and double stacked it). Now I need to hog my sister’s bookcase since she moved to the mainland last year. She told me to show her her room when we had a webcam chat a few days ago and I was thinking, “If only she knew about the pile of books I left on the floor of her room…”

    • Christina says:

      Ha, I’ve never missed a review post yet, but I’ve finished a couple the morning of which is super stressful. I think people would like me less if they knew how quickly I can knock out a review. I’ve always been a quick writer though. I don’t think my profs would have approved of the amount of time I spent on my papers either.

      That is fantastic. My school was too small to have classes like that. Wahhhhh. I didn’t like Oryx and Crake when I read it, but I think I need to try again. Why did I give away my copy? Sigh.

      Ha, my bookcase at my parents’ house was doublestacked. Now I have seven and a half bookcases, so they all fit. FOR NOW.

    • Lilian says:

      NOOOOOOOOO!!! I typed such a long comment and accidentally clicked something..and…*cries*

      “I’ve always been a quick writer though.”
      How much I would love to have your skills right now. I have an essay due in two days and I haven’t even read the prompt choices. In my defense, I DID try to do it early, but I had a final art project I need to turn in tomorrow–and just my luck, it printed wrong the first time around AND I DIDN’T NOTICE until I was putting it together. And I fell asleep last night instead of cutting paper. *flips table* AND I HAVE AN ESSAY ON TOP OF IT. *panic*
      I foresee a lot of coffee and frustration for the next 48 hours.

      My essay-writing self often makes me wonder if I have mental issues.
      Basically I pace around my room talking aloud to myself to find the right way to phrase my sentences.
      My mom overheard me once and asked me who I was talking to. She gave me a “do I need to send my daughter to a psychiatrist?” look when I told her I was talking to myself.

      How small was your school? O_O
      I enjoyed Oryx and Crake for the world-building, but it ended so abruptly. *pout*

    • Christina says:

      That’s the WORST.

      Oh no. College is hyper stressful, because everything’s always due on the same freaking day. I’m still convinced that it’s a conspiracy by the professors.

      OMG, I talk to myself in the shower or would walk around campus listening to my iPod and planning out loud. I got some weird looks. I DON’T HEAR VOICES EITHER, EXCEPT MY OWN.

      1000 students.

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