Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Advance Reading Copies on Loan?

Scott Brown over at Fine Books Blog has some interesting news about one publisher's new attitude about Advance Reading Copies (ARCs). Since many of my fellow book bloggers receive ARCs from various publishers on a fairly regular basis I think that most of you will find this to be an interesting development.
I've written on this subject before, so I won't rehash the whole thing, but basically there are two issues. 1) Do publishers have the right to prevent sales of ARCs; and 2) Does it really matter. The answer to #2 is NO. The number of ARCs trading online (which is a much smaller number than the count of copies LISTED online), is quite small and they are a specialty item for collectors who are not likely to do what publishers fear: buy the ARC secondhand instead of the real book new.
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However ridiculous their concerns are, publishers do get worked up over ARC sales and Scribner has come up with an innovation: legal wording inside the ARC that says it's on loan:

Click the link over to Scott's original blog entry for more of his thoughts on the issue. Personally, I'm a collector of ARCs and I can't recall ever selling one, or even giving one away. I find them to be fun items to add to my book collection and I'm always on the lookout for older ARCs and Uncorrected Proofs. I have regular first edition copies of many of the ARCs that I own because I consider the ARCs to be complimentary to the hardback first editions, not a replacement for them that will save me a few bucks.

18 comments:

  1. We have dozens of employees at B&N, all able to take the ARCs when they arrive in the store. Would the publisher only be "loaning" it to the B&N, or would they be "loaning" it to the employee who takes it.

    What about the employees who take them and bring them back, thereby letting another employee take it.

    Am I allowed to throw away an ARC? What if the company came to collect their loan, but I'd gotten rid of it?

    Dumb and stupid, in my opinion. Not to mention completely unnecessary.

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  2. That's so weird. I just got an ARC through bookmooch, and I'd planned on listing an ARC that I won't read again as well. I get mine through a reviewing site, so would it be subject to the recall, or would I? It kind of reminds me of how when we were younger we would record movies off the TV, but we knew the FBI could come after us if it wanted to, lol.

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  3. It's just not workable, IMO, Annie, and I think that it will be completely ignored. ARCs are produced to build word-of-mouth and to generate as much prepublication publicity as possible. I can't imagine that the ARCs get around all that much, especially not enough to at all damage the ultimate sales of the hardcover version of the book when it is published.

    Much ado about nothing...

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  4. That's exactly it, Eva. This announcement is sort of like a scarecrow. It might work on a few people for a little while but unless publishers go the route of the infamous and stupid bunch at the RIAA and start suing everyone, it won't have any impact at all.

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  5. Loan? So I have to keep it until the end of time just in case? Doesn't sound sensible.

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  6. I receive some ARC's after receiving an email asking if I'd like to read and review them. No mention of what I can or should do with them after that. I also receive ARC's (one came today) that I've not even requested and have no interest in. I have given away a number of them and intend to give away more.

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  7. I list my ARCs on bookmooch or give them away on my blog all the time. Then again, I have no collector's instinct and very little book sentimentality at all, so I even give away signed books on bookmooch. It's fun seeing the recipients get all excited about something that was just a dust trap at my house. :)

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  8. That's exactly why their policy can never work, Chris...it's a scarecrow.

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  9. Absolutely, Jenclair, otherwise who would ever accept an ARC? Believing that you are legally required to keep it "forever" in anticipation of having to return it is ludicrous and would mark the end of ARCs, IMO. Strange that a major publisher could even come up with something like this...

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  10. Dewey, for such a lover of reading, you have to be the exception to the rule that avid readers are all born with the book collecting gene near the surface of their emotions. Life must be so much "cleaner" for you. :-)

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  11. Yeah, unfortunately this isn't a new trend. I've seen reports that some publishers scan through Ebay every day trying to catch book reviewers selling ARC's on there. Sometimes they even make the music industry -- with its ridiculous DRM practices -- look good.

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  12. How interesting. I've never really thought of reselling an ARC. I have old ones from when I worked in a bookstore and I have given them away to places like the Salvation Army as they weren't something I collected. I know I've seen them in used bookstores, so people do sell them. I still don't know how they think they can keep track of them and get them back. It sounds like an awful lot of work and expense...

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  13. Well, while in Philly this past weekend we found a ton of ARCs on sale at the local bookstore. I will not name names, but my friend was highly pissed and ready to hollar foul. They were for sale at $4.95 and she wanted me to press the point that they should be free. I was looking at Foreskin's Lament and possibly would have bought it at that price had she not been in tow. ;P

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  14. Simon, any group that can manage to make the RIAA look good in comparison is definitely working with the devil.

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  15. Danielle, they are being extremely foolish, IMO, even threatening this kind of thing. They should be happy for the extra word of mouth an ARC can generate by being passed through a few extra hands. If that will cause a book not to make a profit, it probably should not have been published in the first place.

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  16. Maggie, I just don't feel guilty at all about buying ARCs of books I like. Like I said earlier, I see them as "companions" to the "real" books and I enjoy having one of each. In fact, I like getting them signed by authors even more than having them sign hardcover firsts.

    If the alternative, according to this publisher, is to pulp them, I'll rescue as many as I can before that happens.

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  17. I'm still rolling my eyes over this one and I actually first read your posting here 24 hours ago. This is just Simon & Schuster marking their territory so that they can go after people who re-sell their ARCs.

    And how is one to know how someone got their hands on an ARC in the first place. I could have picked up a half a dozen at ALA last week. What do they THINK happens to all those copies?

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  18. Jill, I can't imagine that Simon & Schuster actually believe that this is anywhere near a workable plan for them to control ARC distribution. In fact, this is exactly the kind of thing that could backfire on them if they press the issue...why would anyone accept an ARC from them with all those strings attached to it when other publishers aren't pursuing the "criminalization" of their reviewers?

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