Aug 10, 2015

Blogger Anonymous: All ARC'd Up

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
6.Recycle it

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% excitement
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.


  1. Great thoughts! This is a huge peeve of mine as well, both as an aspiring writer and as someone who isn't on many mailing lists and therefore doesn't get ARCs all that often. Does it stink? Yes. Would I ever buy an ARC? NO WAY!

    One thing I wanted to add as a librarian is a comment about what you said about donating old ARCs to a school or library. If there are any other librarians out there reading this who get ARCs donated, remember, you CANNOT add them to your formal collection. For one, they aren't the final copy of the book, so changes can still happen and typos are bound to be present. I once heard of a kid who read an ARC of a book for a report instead of the final copy and there was mass confusion because chapters were in different orders and a character in the ARC didn't survive to the final publication. Secondly, it robs authors of a sale. ARCs are basically gifts from publishers, provided on good faith. Don't take advantage of that. ARCs are great building blocks for classroom libraries, and when I gave my old ones away to students as prizes for my reading program this past spring, it was a huge hit. So please, be mindful, and just be good humans :)

    1. Oooh! That's a great point, Monica! And a great idea to give them away to students!

  2. Eek! Selling ARCs is never okay! One of the universal things that I personally think all bloggers should preach. I like to give away or lend ARCs to other bloggers, so I know it's in good hands to potentially review. Like your math chart. I wish I lived near-er to the YADC bloggers so I can lend my books without the shipping hassle and worry of lost packages!

    Your Whack-A-Mole comment is spot-on!

    Great post, glad I saw it on my FB feed :)

    Alyssa @ The Eater of Books!

    1. Just come to more events - that's where we mostly exchange books at!

  3. "Look, Pinnochio, that's not how this works," is going to be my go-to sentence from now on.

    But seriously, thank you for this post. You said a lot of things that needed to be said - especially when it comes to things like E-ARCs.

    I saw people causally trading Firewalker the other day on Facebook, and their justification was exactly that "E-ARCs don't count." I'm hoping that they'll see posts like this, and realize that they're hurting authors and publishers that they love in the long run.

    1. Yeah, people don't seem to get that trading eARCs is just as illegal as downloading the PDF. It's not OK.

  4. I think that this post was very respectful despite how irritating it is to see someone selling ARCs. I wouldn't have even thought to email the publishers and let them know, but that's definitely the right thing to do in this situation. There will always be jerks out there, but hopefully they see posts like this and think twice!

  5. Wonderful post! I'm happy to see booksfortrade is encouraged by some pubs. I'd wondered how they felt about it. I'm so so sad that a blogger would sell an arc. Just no.

    1. I've seen a few bloggers say that publishers hate it, but everyone I've asked (and I've asked A LOT) love that we're sharing so much.

  6. Great post! Selling ARCs irritates me so much. Hopefully this will reach those who need it and right this wrong.

  7. wow I can't believe that someone would so shamelessly go about selling ARCs. That is sickening.

    Trading ARCs and offering them for giveaways are great options, but everyone and their (non-book blogging) mother should know it is never ok to sell them!

    Im glad you are speaking out about this.

    1. I know this post won't stop people from doing it, but it felt good to vent about it.

  8. Bravo Hannah! After our chat yesterday I'm glad you decided to do a post about it :)


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  10. O wow ya Selling ARCs is a big no no. See this is why I was tossing my site stamp on ARCs up until this March/April. Because there are so many of them popping up on Ebay and when this author/publisher asked me to add it to theirs I jumped on the chance to help find this person.

    I never knew that so many places were going to have an issue with almost what 2 years after the fact. But, now that that persons account was taken down. I no longer use my site stamp for this.

    However many other sites do stamp their books. Night Owl Reviews is one. So are used bookstores etc.

    1. I am curious as to why you say you are concerned about people selling ARCs when you sell them yourself. I have proof so you can deny it if you want but it is a fact.

      Also I know the Authors never asked you to stamp their ARCs because I have been emailed privately and offered things to cover them up

  11. You go girl! Yay for our YADC group and our ability/willingness to share.

    I also adopted Andye's "review my books" feature and I send other readers my ARCs to review (and keep) since I can't possible read all the books I have! I think hubby is happier when he sees the books leave the house that he ought to be :)

    1. YADC definitely helps me keep down my overflow book shelves.

  12. I just can't believe people would sell ARCs. It baffles me whenever I see a post about it. Like, it makes no sense to my brain and I can't grasp it. I give my ARCs away to friends or as a giveaway. Or I donate them to festivals and such.

  13. I've bought several ARC's at The Strand Bookstore in NYC. I thought it was weird, but apparently they get away with it.

    1. I have heard that, but I've never seen any personally.

  14. I donate ARCs to my sons school and trade the ones that are for older kids.
    I also donate all finished books to my library I have read and do not want to keep or that I get from publishers that I did not request the book and want people to be able to read it.

    1. That's awesome! Luckily I know a few different area teachers who always want more books for their schools.

  15. This is one of my BIGGEST annoyances in the bookish world!!! GOOD FOR YOU!!!

  16. I try to donate or giveaway as best as I can. But I'll have to admit that there have been a couple times I've had to fill my recycle bin with ARCs that no one wanted. I would never in my life sell them! It makes me sick to think that people think it's okay. Now...if someone wants to have someone else pay for shipping to mail them, then I don't really care about that.

  17. Oh good point re: the gift cards. I hadn't thought of it in the way you'd mentioned since books would be purchased. But then you can get other things than books at B&N or Amazon so it is more like cash.

    Would buying someone a book in exchange for a book/ARC they had fall into the "no" zone vs. trading a book already owned?

    I've always given away ARCs on the blog. In recent years I've waited until they've been released before giveaway end date. But this whole selling thing has gotten me to really consider just giving them to friends or sending them to Jaime so she can have them donated to a school. It's sad, because one of my goals as a blogger was to get books into the hands of readers that might not have been able to afford them. But one bad egg...

    We can never stop the sellers from trying to sell - usually it's not someone who is ignorant of the "not for sale" rule - but we can take a stand and not buy. At least those of us in the blogging community. I'm sure it's a temptation - especially when you don't get all the arcs from the pubs, especially for those books you want to desperately read right now - (I always cry when Holly Black ARCs are out because I never get them) - but bloggers tend to be really generous and willing to share. So asking around is a better option than buying a "not for sale" ARC. And it's cheaper, too!

  18. I can't understand why people would do this either. I don't get many ARCS from publishers so the ones I do get I love and cherish to pieces, and they sit on their own little shelf. I have a hard time giving them up, and unless I had a double of it (in which case I would use it for a giveaway) you'd have to pry it out of my cold dead hands. :)

  19. Damn Straight!
    Respect the ARC

    My extras go to giveaways but I choose to pay for that. I take some to school for my classroom. I pass some on to other bloggers. AND I have lots of books. Yeah, I may not read them all but I feature them and give them the nod as a thank you for the pub sending them to me. It's not that big a deal peeps. Trade them...fine. Find out if there are other bloggers in your area that want them. LOTS of options and NONE involve making MONEY.

    You rock.
    You are awesome.
    I love you.
    That is all.


    It's 2015 people, I can't believe this is *still* an issues. Bloggers who do this should be ashamed of themselves! Seriously! ARCs are precious commodities and should be treated with respect.

    The only time I will ever ask anyone to pay for an ARC is to cover postage, if it's not a traded book. Considering I live in the world's worst location (aka Australia), where nothing is ever cheap to post, even cross country, I don't mind giving the book away for free but will ask you to pay for the postage (or gimme one of your unwanted books, wins all round!).

  21. I can't believe people actually do this!! What a shame. People who do this should be ashamed. Crazy. Great post and thanks for the heads up. If I happen to see this I will take your advice and let the publisher know. :)


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