Sunday, 4 September 2016

DISCUSSION: Are ARCs Really That Important?


ARCs, otherwise known as advanced review copies, are books sent early to bloggers, journalists, authors and other influencers in order to create a buzz pre-publication. They're usually not as high quality as finished editions, but they mean you don't have to wait until the book is in shops to read it. Recently, lots of bloggers have been discussing 'ARC culture' - in other words, are ARCs really that important?

(Side note: I have written and re-written this post so many times. Turns out ARC culture is a complicated topic. Who knew?)

I've said it before and I'll say it again: I am extremely grateful to be on the receiving end of ARCs. I wouldn't be able to read nearly as much as I do if it wasn't for publishers sending these books to me so often. In this way, I am very privileged, especially as they can be highly sought after - and I can see why. Being on the receiving end of an ARC means you're one of the first people to read the book, and that's exciting - as is the sound of your letterbox creaking open, followed by a loud, book-like thump on the doormat. They're better than bills and junk mail, that's for sure. And you get to be part of an author's journey to publication!

Can you be a book blogger without ARCs? Absolutely! There's nothing to stop you from blogging about the books you already own. There are so, so, so many books already published that deserve attention. I once had a book blogger of two weeks email me asking if it was normal that no publishers had contacted them yet. I don't think anyone gets ARCs as soon as they start blogging, and some don't get any ARCs ever - it's not a right.

However, even though ARCs don't excite me quite as much as they used to, and even though my towering TBR pile scares me a bit, and even though I, too, want people to realise that ARCs are not everything... I have an issue with bloggers constantly going on rants saying that ARCs 'don't matter'. They're not everything, no, but they do matter. Saying that they don't comes from a huge place of privilege. Do you know how amazing it is to suddenly be the owner of hundreds of brand-new books directly from the publisher, sometimes before they're in shops, when your family has never had the money to keep up with your speedy reading before? Do you know how amazing it is to simply be able to read a clean, brand-new book that is all yours when you've mostly had to rely on dusty, drink-spilled, spine-ruined books from the library that you only get to keep for a week? They matter.

It's like when the popular girls at school are all wearing their hair a certain way and you finally succumb to the pressure of also wearing your hair in that style, only for them to laugh at you and tell you it's not cool anymore. (Been there.) You know?

As you can probably tell, I'm on the fence. ARCs aren't everything, and I think everyone comes to realise that sooner or later, but it annoys me when bloggers outright say that ARCs don't matter, because that can be disheartening for new bloggers who, after lots of hard work, are finally getting their own. And of course they matter - an author has spent months nurturing their baby, and the printing of ARCs signifies the beginning of its journey onto bookshelves around the world. And a lovely person in publishing has put time, thought and effort into getting that book to you.

I just feel like we should have more consideration for newer bloggers. We all started somewhere. I still remember getting my first ever ARC from a publisher (The Splendor Falls by Rosemary Clement-Moore) and proudly displaying it face-out on my shelf for weeks. When I got my first review book directly from an author (Chips, Beans and Limousines by Leila Rasheed) I showed it to everyone who came to visit. So, I'm here to tell you that it's okay to get excited about things. It's okay to be enthusiastic. Don't feel weird for jumping up and down when the post comes, and don't feel guilty when bigger bloggers say that the thing you've worked hard for doesn't matter.

And if you don't get ARCs? That's okay too. In fact, it's more than okay. ARCs are not the be all and end all of blogging - there's more to it than that. (Never had an ARC? Well, let me tell you, the covers aren't always pretty and they're usually full of typos. They're rare, they're cool, but finished copies will always be better!) All bloggers start by reviewing books they've bought and borrowed, so if you're not in contact with publishers, you are not a failure. You are doing just fine.

Bottom line: ARCs are important and they matter - but they're not 100% necessary.

What do you think about ARC culture?

13 comments:

  1. Arcs are exciting to get! I do agree that they can definitely help get buzz around the book before it's out, so I don't see how that couldn't matter. Buzz before a book is out might make a difference in pre-order sales or first week sales which really help a book's and author's stats and ratings. If a book reviewer doesn't get ARCs, it doesn't mean they aren't a successful reviewer at all. But ARCs still do matter.

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  2. I love this post and how it explores different sides of ARC culture. I totally agree: they're not the end all be all but they are cool!

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  3. This actual is intresting, love receiving arcs but since don't blog often , I don't request arcs that often. defintily all true.

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  4. This is such an excellent post, Amber! I love arcs, I feel so privileged that I'm one of the people who gets to read a book before it's out in shops and it makes my day when they arrive in the post. However, I also agree with you that they aren't an essential element to a blog and they don't determine your worth as a blogger and I think many new bloggers might view arcs as a measure of success - I know I used to, back in the day! Excellent post!

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  5. I love this post! I live in the Middle East and it's extremely difficult to get English (YA) books. My local bookshop doesn't have a very wide selection and there's like, one national library in the country. In addition to that, the books are really expensive and my parents couldn't support that at times. So, when I started receiving ARCs and review copies of books in the mail, it was like a dream come true. I can get books BEFORE they're released and I was just so ecstatic. My parents were so proud of me and they started telling their colleagues at work about my book blogging hobby and how I receive books to review. So, when all these bloggers say "ARCs don't matter", I just feel really bad because for some people who aren't privileged enough to be able to get many books... they do matter. :/ Again, great post!! =)

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  6. This was a really well-written post...I feel similarly. ARCs can be awesome because you're helping an author get potential readers through your early reviews, but of course we can't forget the importance of reading already-published books as well. I remember getting my first ARC, I was so excited! I've gotten a bit frustrated over time, though, since I haven't been getting many more but I've come to realize that they're *not* everything! They're just a bonus.

    Wren @ http://fortheloveofbooksreviews.blogspot.ca/

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  7. I have to say I've never really requested physical ARCs and the only ARCS I really read are Netgalley, but I can see why people get excited about them. I've managed to do reasonably well with my blog without them, but I totally understand why people get excited for them.

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  8. I completely agree. I feel so lucky because although I started my blog in October last year, I only started properly book blogging in about March and I started receiving ARCs pretty quickly. I couldn't believe it! I still get so excited when I get a new book through the door simply because I'm in the same position as you mentioned - I can't afford to buy many books. The books I do buy are from charity shops, sales or when they're cheap for the Kindle, so to get actual physical books to read and review makes me feel so special. But I'd probably still be blogging without them so I agree, they aren't 100% necessary to the success of a great book blog!

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  9. I really agree with your thoughts, Amber! ARCs matter to me, and they're like special editions I collect because they're not for sale. But yes, they're not everything. :)

    Thank you for sharing your insights. :)

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  10. Ho old was this blog when you started to recieve ARCs?

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    1. I'm almost a year old, and still nothing. Although its probably because I still haven't mastered the technic of blog writing

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