Some controversy coming out of BEA this weekend (which we did not attend, but have in the past). 1) People have been selling ARCs on eBay, and 2) bloggers specifically have been taking too many copies of ARCs. (For this post, any reference to ARC could also mean galley or any other form of advanced copy of a book.)
We wanted to share our thoughts and blogging policy on the matter of review copies.
- We will never sell an ARC on eBay.
- We will only take one copy of a book for each of us. Not more than we need.
- Full disclosure – we have given away ARCs before from BEA, but only the one copy that we had, not several copies. The key word there being ‘given.’
Maybe it’s because we both work in publishing, but we consider it really poor etiquette to sell an advanced copy. Like, really shady. I know BEA is expensive, but selling ARCs is not the way to pay for it. BEA is not a playground for anyone to grab as they see fit and do what they will. There are industry standards that are being broken by selling these books. If it doesn’t have a scannable ISBN barcode, the author is not getting royalties for that book. Maybe you won’t be arrested for it, but you are still in essence stealing from this author you claim to support. Never mind the legality, think of it from an ethical perspective.
Publishers print a certain amount of books for promotional purposes. At BEA, a professional conference, people from all over the book industry attend for various reasons – sales, rights issues, distribution, whatever. The point is to act professionally. It’s not just for bloggers to get all the copies (I mean, it just looks selfish). And to knock everyone down a peg, blogging is not the entirety of the marketing plan. Publishers love good reviews, they also love bookstore displays, email campaigns, Goodreads ads, or any of the hundreds of marketing tools they have at their fingertips. And yes word of mouth is probably the most successful of all marketing tools. So, your dear old auntie’s suggestion to her friends will sell more books than your blog post. Please don’t use that as an excuse.
And if you’re gathering tons of copies at an industry event for giveaways to hopefully drive traffic to your site, please just stop. Isn’t it better to establish a relationship with the publicist or even the author? Instead you’ve now run the risk of alienating your blog. The publicist or marketing associate at the booth has an email address by which to contact them and ask for giveaway/review copies. That same info is on the back of the ARC. Ta-da! The already limited supply of books at a conference can go to other attendees, and the giveaway you are planning can go on as normal.
Also, if someone calls you out for bad behavior, listen. (This goes for all of the book blogosphere because these types of issues pop up a lot.)
This has been a PSA by 80 Books Blog. You can see more on this topic on Twitter.
-Heather & Tqwana