Hey, y'all! It's been a while since I did a Blogger Anonymous post (a post in which I not so anonymously post about an issue that's burning my biscuits so we can chat about it), and something happened last night that totally set me off.
I was perusing my Instagram feed as one does and what should I see but this:
An ARC for sale. By a blogger. Upon further looking I saw that this wasn't the first time this blogger had sold an ARC.
Giving this poster the benefit of the doubt (even though every ARC has "NOT FOR SALE" stamped across it in multiple spots), I commented on the thread and reminded her it was illegal to sell ARCs.
She deleted my comment and sold the book to another commenter. I commented again to both of them and told them both it was illegal.
And I was blocked.
It floored me that both the buyer and seller are bloggers. As bloggers, you know the Rules of the ARC:
1. Thou shalt not sell thy ARC
2. Though shalt abide by Rule #1
3. When thou is in doubt, thy will refer to Rule #2 for instruction about thy ARC
I mean, seriously - I says NOT FOR SALE all over it.
A few months ago there was a scandal over at eBay where people were selling ARCs of highly coveted books that had been gotten at BEA (Passenger by Alexandra Bracken and Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo to name a few).
Maybe you're a newer blogger or new to the book world or new to ARCs, so let's go over a few things.
1. What is an ARC/ARE and what does it do?
ARC = Advanced Reader Copy
ARE = Advanced Reader Edition
Same thing, just different names. These are produced in limited quantity by a publisher or authors for the sole purpose of reviewing. These copies are distributed to media outlets, magazines, libraries, and (yes) bloggers and booktubers in hopes they will be covered on that particular publication.
Media coverage and reviews = sales = $$$ for publishers.
With me so far?
These books often contain imperfections that are worked out by the final bound publication, such as grammatical errors, spelling errors, formatting issues, and (in some rare cases) entirely different endings/plots/passages.
2. Why it isn't OK to sell them:
Publishing is a business. It's a career. From writers to editors to cover designers to the publicity and marketing teams, it is a real life job - the same thing that you or someone in your family does to make sure you have a roof over your head, clothing, food, and all the necessities. When someone sells an ARC, none of the people mentioned in the production of that book get a cut from it.
So basically it would be like getting your paycheck and it being $100 short because a few people decided to take a few dollars at a time from your check just because they can. Not because you didn't do your work (you totally did your work and kicked ass at it) but someone else decided that your work was also their work so why shouldn't they get a chunk of it?
See how that makes absolutely no sense? And how selling an ARC is basically taking money directly away from an author? A publicist? A company?
3. But I never asked for this ARC and I need to get rid of it - why should I have to pay to get rid of it?!
Oh, poor you. Poor, poor you. Someone sent you a book for free that you didn't ask for because they hoped you would enjoy it.
What is the world coming to when people get random, free bookmail?
If you receive an unsolicited book for review, you have a few options:
1. Read it and review it
2. Read it and don't review it
3. Pass it along to another blogger
4. Pass it along to friends and/or family
5. Donate it to your local library/school
See how none of those options involve selling it?
YA Highway actually did an excellent post about what to do with an ARC when you're done with it that I recommend checking out if you need options. I'm really blessed that I have YADC around me and I can usually pass my books along to another blogger when I'm done.
I can't afford to randomly ship books to people, but if people are willing to pay shipping, I will happily send them a book or 20. But note, I am not selling these books - I don't make a profit on them. It's one thing to be reimbursed for shipping. It's another thing to make a profit off something that isn't yours.
4. But I asked for a gift card ... not actual money:
Still counts. A gift card can be the same thing as money. A $10 gift card to Barnes & Noble spends the same as a $10 bill.
5. Digital ARCs don't count because they aren't real books, right?
Look, Pinnochio, that's not how this works. If anything, selling/sharing digital ARCs is worse. Once a digital file is uploaded in to the interwebs, it's out there for anyone to see and pirate.
An author's pre-book launch is usually:
10% freaking out
30% planning launch events
50% playing 'Whack-A-Mole' reporting links to illegal copies of their books
Martina Boone's debut COMPULSION was up for illegal download on multiple web sites six months before release.
Would you photocopy an ARC and upload it it for people to read? It's the same thing.
6. So #BooksForTrade is evil?
No. Not at all. Trading an ARC for another book (finished or not) is OK and actually encouraged by publishers. I've actually spoken to a lot of publicists about this and it's bonus publicity for them.
It's simple math (and I suck at math). Let's say the average blogger's post reaches 500 people.
1 ARC + 1 Blogger = 500 people
1 ARC + 3 Bloggers = 1.500 people
1 ARC + 6 Bloggers = 3,000 people
See how the more you share, the more chances a book has to be review/featured?
Trading a book for a book is one thing. Trading a book for a form of currency (money or gift card) is not OK.
7. How do we stop the madness?
Before you go grabbing your pitchforks, take a breath. I was so mad last night that I was tempted to throw this person's identity out there and just let the chips fall where they may. But what good would that do?
I did report what I saw to the publisher who was publishing those titles I found for sale and what they do now is beyond me.
Publicly crucifying and shaming someone just stirs a lot of people up and leads to more drama. Which is why I'm not going to publicly share the bloggers that inspired this post.
If you're unsure about something, ask. Ask a publicist. Ask another blogger. As both. Ask 20 bloggers. Pose the question for all of twitter. But willful ignorance isn't a defense, especially when a book plainly says NOT FOR SALE on it.