Hello my lovely lemons! How are you doing? I’m coming at you with a bit of a discussion post today. You probably won’t believe it, but I came up with this post while I was reading an ARC. Shocking, I know! So yes, I do read ARCs (Advanced Reader Copies) and I do think they’re generally a good thing. But as with all things, there are ups and downs. The thing is, I don’t tend to see anyone talking about those downs.
In the bookish community I think there’s a tendency to see ARCs as this amazing thing, the ultimate goal, a sign of success. After all, the big bloggers and booktubers and bookstagrammers are always reading them! (Anyone else think it’s funny how we just slap ‘book’ on the front of everything?) It sounds great to constantly be getting sent free books, be they digital or physical. I think many of us see it as a form of payment for the work we do, since goodness knows book bloggers are not exactly raking it in. Or making anything at all in most cases. So because they sound so great, and I suppose so we don’t sound ungrateful, nobody talks about the not-so-great aspects of ARCs. And trust me, there are some.
Now for the purposes of this post I’ll only be talking about digital eARCs – the kind you get from NetGalley or Edelweiss+. Mainly because digital ARCs are the only kind I’ve ever recieved. So without further ado, let’s get to it.
🍋 the formatting is quite terrible 🍋
OH MY GOD THE FORMATTING. I’m sure anyone else who has read digital ARCs can sympathise with me on this one. Well, either that or I’m doing something wrong and this will be an embarrasment. Every ARC you get comes with the little disclaimer about “This is an uncorrected proof, etc. etc.” but it’s still so strange to see. When I got my first ever ARC I didn’t know about these issues, so when it had every single sentence on a separate line for pages at a time, I assumed it was supposed to look like that. It was not. I can’t explain this particular issue any better than by showing you pictures of some of the things you can expect to deal with when you read an ARC on your Kindle.
🍋 the pressure to write a good review 🍋
When you get given a review copy, there’s a certain amount of pressure that comes with that. A publisher has given you a free copy of this book you want to read, and in exchange they expect a review. If possible, they also want you to share that review around to help generate a bit of hype. Some people love writing reviews, and they have whole systems for doing it. Me, I usually just wing it, and I don’t write full reviews for every book I read, so when it comes to ARCs I feel a bit pressure to write an eloquent review. I’m just not that good at describing the different elements of a book.
🍋 guilt rating books you didn’t really like 🍋
This one can pose a bit of a problem. When you get given something for free, there’s a certain amount of gratitude that comes with that. So when you find that you don’t like this ARC, you feel a little guilty for rating it low. There’s always that nagging feeling of “well, maybe I could round it up…” “I guess it wasn’t that bad…” “I bet the finished version will be better!” Essentially, because you’re grateful for getting that book, you feel guilty for not liking it. And that might translate into you rating it higher than you generally would. It’s the same as if someone gives you a gift – even if you don’t like it, you tell them you do so you don’t hurt their feelings. Malka @ Paper Procrastinators wrote a great post on this topic if you want to read more on it.
🍋 the terror of looming deadlines 🍋
I think it’s a universal fact that no one likes reading when they’ve been told to. I mean, who can say they enjoyed any of the books they were forced to read in high school? When you accept an ARC, it’s like you have a deadline for reading it. Not a literal deadline, at least not on NetGalley – I’ve reviewed some books months after they released. But ideally, you’re supposed to read them by their release date. If you let it go past that, you lose the sense of urgency and are at risk of never reading them at all. Or worse, you get stressed and overwhelmed by all these overdue ARCs and start putting off books you really want to read. My point is, when you have a time limit for reading a book it starts to feel a lot less fun.
🍋 ending up with too many ARCs 🍋
Once you start getting approved for ARCs, it’s easy to get a bit giddy and start requesting titles left, right, and centre. Then you get approved for all of them at once and suddenly you’re a bit overwhelmed. On many occasions I’ve gotten emails about an ARC and had to Google the book becuase I’ve completely forgotten it. This issue combines with the deadlines, to create quite a stressful situation. This problem is entirely avoidable if you only request a select few books you really want to read, but I know from my own experience how easy it is to get caught up “ARC shopping” and click on everything with a pretty cover.
So, after I’ve listed all that, do I still think ARCs are a good thing? Yes, of course I do. They connect readers with publishers, and they allow all of us in the bookish community to get early opinions from people we know and trust. If you’re one of those ARC reviewers, they let you keep up with new releases and have early access to titles you’re excited about. So yes, I had a good complain, but that doesn’t mean I think ARCs are bad. It’s just that I never see anyone else complaining about them, so I felt the need to write a whole post.