Babble,  Bookish Stuff

ARCs: Are We Hyping Them Up Too Much?

I have a love-hate relationship with Advanced Reader Copies. They’re great! Professional readers (bloggers, booksellers, librarians) can read books ahead of publication so that once they come out (or even before that!), they can talk about those books and help promote them to the best of their abilities. But there’s also a downside: they’re really exclusive and usually only available to US and UK bloggers. Especially for international bloggers, it can be nearly impossible get one! I’m eternally grateful for the few eARCs I do receive, and I love reading them, but I also feel like there’s a lot of problems when it comes to ARCs. 

Netgalley & Edelweiss

I love how digital ARCs are a thing. So many more people get to read them now, and it’s a wonderful solution to the expensive-shipping problem when it comes to international bloggers who like to get their hands on an ARC. I don’t have facts or numbers, but it seems like a relatively cheap way to distribute ARCs to readers all over the world. However, there’s a few problems: 1) Netgalley’s “Wish for it” button makes no sense. I mean, why put up a review copy when it’s not actually available? There are a few publisher’s who used this feature to the best of their abilities and they actually communicate about it like “We’re granting [number] wishes today!” But there are other publishers who I feel like don’t do this at all. It all feels a bit misleading to me. 2) I don’t know much about Edelweiss, but it seems impossible to get advance copies through there. I haven’t been on their long, but while the same bio, links and stats get me books on Netgalley, I can’t get a single one on Edelweiss. Why? Giving bloggers ARCs is the best kind of free promotion you can get!

Request, Request, Request!!!

Digital proofs are great, but another downside is that nearly everyone can request them and lots of people get access. I personally blog mostly about YA fantasy, so I barely ever request a contemporary or anything outside the kind of fantasy stories I usually love. I don’t think my Netgalley review ratio has ever been below 50%, because I only request what I know I’ll love (and finish soon-ish) and don’t request more than I can read. Meanwhile, others need challenges to get through their ARC “piles” and actually read them, and it hurts me so much. Do you realise how unfair that is? For everyone who gets an ARC, another person won’t get it, because they only give out so many proofs. Sometimes people who get an ARC don’t pick them up for months, if they ever do at all while another excited reader will be disappointed.

Exclusive Covers & Press Packages

There are a few publishers who give their ARCs exclusive covers, some even with – what seems like –  foiling! Honestly, I really don’t like it. I understand how it’s a wonderful marketing tool because everybody wants them and most people who don’t get a proof will eventually buy a finished copy. But t just doesn’t make sense to me. Why spend budget on an exclusive different cover while it can be spend on collaborations with bloggers? Let someone organise a blog tour, pay a blogger to write an amazing sponsored piece about a certain (thing in the) book… The possibilities are endless and it just feels like a waste of money to me.

Press packages are another thing I have mixed feelings about. I love seeing them and they’re another wonderful marketing tool, but I just don’t get it. They always go to the same people and – again – the money could be spend on better things. You know what? I’ve stopped watching Instagram Stories from “big” bookish people because they’re always bookmail videos and I’m bored with them. If this makes me sound jealous, well… too bad.

Book Boxes & Giveaways

When I found out Fairyloot was including a special ARC of a book that wasn’t coming out until May 2018, I freaked out. I needed that box! Lucky for me, I managed to get one! My copy of Furyborn is my first and only physical ARC I own, and I’m so proud of it! But (sorry, there’s always a but with me…) why was it in. book box? I mean, it’s great! But again, why? I’m sure not all Fairlyloot Subscribers are bloggers or reviewers, why should they need an advance copy? Aren’t those meant for professional readers?

Giveaways feel a little similar for me. Why give away an ARC to someone who might not even review it? I’m not saying authors can’t give away proofs of their books, it’s the publishers I’m “worried” about. If a blogger who’s requesting a proof doesn’t get it, why should some random giveaway winner get it? Shouldn’t it be better of with someone who will actually review and promote the book? If you wanna do a giveaway, why can’t it just be done when there are physical copies available?

They’re Hyped Up Too Much

What I’m trying to say, is that I think advanced reader copies and press packages are hyped up way too much. I feel as if they’re marketed as books on their own entirely. Like they’re separate things from the finished copies. Especially over the past year, I’ve seen ARCs go from unfinished proofs to something like holy objects. Don’t get me wrong, I love (getting) ARCs and I hope I’ll be good enough to receive a physical ARC one day, but they also annoy me. While I (as a blogger) have to spend my own money on books to review, other people get books ahead of publication and entire press packages mailed to them for free. It just feels unfair, and it’s honestly one of the only things I don’t understand about book blogging and publishing.

What do you think? Is it okay to “treat” ARCs the way they’re treated? Or are we indeed hyping them up too much?


  • Kathy @ Books & Munches

    I have exactly the same problem going on with my NG profile and EW profile! They’re the same and still I can’t get approved for even ONE eARC… It makes me wonder whether or not I’m doing something wrong on there, to be honest…

    Definitely get your view on those people with a pile of ARC’s… I try to keep up with mine as perfectly as I can – currently have two unread ones but they don’t release until February / March. It hurts to see that people drowning in ARC’s are getting approved for more and more while they barely have the time to get to them.. Or so it seems at least.

    They seem to be hyped up, true. But in the end ARC’s is just about the main thing that divides US/UK bloggers and international bloggers. Pretty sure mostly international ones will be sharing this opinion wile the US/UK might lean more towards a “yeah, sure, but…” and be more lenient about it? I don’t know. Just a thought I have.

    Also, now I feel kind of guilty for winning a signed ARC of an eARC I already read.. But I loved it and it’s signed and.. and.. Yup, feeling guilty. :’)

    • Ayla

      Noooo don’t feel guilty! Congrats for winning, having books signed is wonderful!

      I guess the difference between NG and EW is that EW is also for booksellers who order books through there? Like, it still doesn’t make sense but my guess it that EW is a little “more professional” than Netgalley is, if that makes sense? It still sucks, though!

      Two unread ones is great! And like you said, they’re not released until February and March so that’s totally okay? There’s definitely people out there who get so much more than they can read and it just feels wrong to me? Like, Netgalley’s ratio thing is nice but maybe it would be better to have a system that stops you from getting too many ARCs?

      I definitely agree that more INTL readers will share this opinion, but I guess there’s plenty of US/UK bloggers out there who feel the same way? I mean, if you’re new and never gotten and ARC before and struggle to get them, they’re basically in the same boat as INTL readers? Like, it still isn’t fair when one blogger has PILES of ARCs and other’s can’t get any. But that’s a good point!

      • Kathy @ Books & Munches

        Haha, thank you!

        Hm, it makes sense! But it’s such a bummer to know I get approved on NG and then get rejected again and again and again on EW when there are so many more books on there! Sometimes it feels like they should be picky on NG and not on EW but that’s just me, haha.

        Yup, exactly! Still haven’t read them but I had a ton of author requests to get through. :’) Think I’m going to lay off on those a bit since there’s often books that I don’t particularly like even though the genre is my thing. It’s weird.
        I think that system would definitely be an improvement! And add a “safety measure” that you have to have NO books that were released over six months prior before you request more. I think that’d benefit both us and the publishers, really?

        Hm, they’ll probably share this opinion but I think they’re more likely to end up changing their mind about it once they DO get ARC’s. Sometimes they remember the struggle they used to be in but sometimes they simply forget all about that and ARC’s become “normal”.

  • Elizabeth Hunter

    Your post makes a lot of sense. I didn’t read any ARCs this fall, just because I was overwhelmed with school & other work. I didn’t request any, and I felt bad for not reviewing the 3 books I received during the summer. Granted, they were books I really didn’t enjoy? Adult fiction that just didn’t work for me.
    I just requested a few ARCs the other day, and received a few. Which surprised me, because my NG rating isn’t that high.
    I’ve never received a physical ARC. I’d like to, but I know it’s super hard.
    And yeah, now that you mentioned it, Fairy Loot sending out an ARC of a book is weird.

    Also, I just received Furyborn as an ARC and read it yesterday. I have lots of thoughts and am writing a post about it soon.

    • Ayla

      Ohhhh I hope you loved Furyborn! I definitely did, but my review won’t be online till like May… haha!

      It’s definitely more difficult to read/review ARCs when you don’t like them. The same thing happened to me this past Autumn and I actually DNFed one for the first time because I didn’t like it. There’s nothing wrong with that! Three definitely isn’t a lot (compared to some others) and as long as you can still read them in a reasonable time, there’s nothing wrong with having multiple ARCs! I love how Fairyloot included an ARC, and I think it’s really cool! But like I said, it doesn’t make a lot of sense… It’s still a way of promotion, of course, but I’m sure some people won’t be buying the final book as they already have a copy!

  • Cam

    So I didn’t think too much on this until this post. I don’t have much experience with exclusive covers and press packages but I do agree that putting aside some budget for reviewers to host giveaways, blog tours, and such would help promote the book better than random giveaways or subscription boxes – which not everyone has access to.

    And yes, I find so many popular bookstagrams being given books more for the purpose of publicity. I find this unfair to the bloggers who would read the book on time and review it. Then again, whatever brings the book the most promotion. So I also understand the other side of it.

    Great post!

    • Ayla

      Thank you!

      I don’t have a lot of experience myself with receiving ARCs and packages and stuff, but I just got annoyed by always seeing the same people getting them and stuff! I definitely think having a budget to pay bloggers for sponsored content would be much for efficient to promote a book! There’s always people who’ll complain about how reviews shouldn’t be payed for, but there’s so much other content we can create!

      I definitely understand the other side of big Bookstagrammers getting books for free because they provide the most publicity! I mean, they don’t really need to read the book if they can also just take a picture and promote it, right? But it still feels a bit unfair.

  • dominique_x

    I really liked reading this post, such an interesting topic. I am not familiar with ARC’s at all, but I would love to get my hands at one. I am not a huge blogger, instagrammer or whatever but I love reading new books and I share my opinions on Twitter/Instagram. I don’t understand why ‘big’ bloggers request SO many ARCs and don’t read them (or after the book has been released), it’s a bit unfair I guess. Personally I like when people unbox their books, especially if you can see that they are truly happy with the books they got.

    • Ayla

      Unboxings are so much fun and it’s amazing to see people being happy with what they got! Like, if someone loves a series and gets a press package for a new book in that series and all freak out, it’s great! I love seeing that! I just think they are a few people out there who kind of take getting stuff like this for granted? Like, sure, they’ll be thankful and promote the book but don’t read it or anything while another person who didn’t get it could maybe promote it better, if that makes sense? 😉

  • Signourney

    I’ve stopped caring so much about arcs lately. Though I agree I don’t understand why Furyborn was in a book box. And the exclusive covers and all too. I guess US publishers just have more budget than we think.

    I do have to say that a lot of the big bookstagrammers, bloggers and youtubers actually get a lot unsolicited or get asked if they want it. I understand them saying yes if it gets offered to them.

    I think a lot of bloggers forget how easily it is to get burned out on reading only arcs.

  • Charley Hrobsky

    While I have received physical ARCs, most of them have come from Goodreads giveaways. Requesting physical ARCs seems nearly impossible for smaller bloggers or bookstagrammers to get from publishers directly. Personally, I don’t read ebooks which also limits the amount of ARCs I receive.

  • AvalinahsBooks

    It’s actually not that bad for me with ARCs, being international. It could be worse xD I feel like I have to fight for them more than the US/UK bloggers, but it isn’t so bad – I do get most of the ones I want, even if just in ebook form (ebooks are fine with me, they’re still the same contents, after all!)

    NetGalley is treating us like crap though 🙁 however, maybe there’s an upside of that – I’ve been contacting a lot of actual publicists and authors lately, particularly because NetGalley hates internationals. I do realize that I’m lucky though – I’ve got a few years on my belt. It must be much harder for the newbie INTL bloggers 🙁 and yes, the wish button sucks.. I’m convinced they don’t even see us T_T

    If it makes you feel any better, I hate the videos too 😀 I don’t even watch them. Not because I’m jealous – I just.. that’s not how I want to spend my time 😀

    I ABSOLUTELY get those feels about people not trying but getting nice print review copies. But hey, isn’t that how life works? Some people are born rich. Some people get born in the slums 🙁 life is that way. It’s not the same to compare – but it is similar – we are just in a different situation here, even when it comes to review copies. Sure it ain’t fair. Nothing in life is. I am happy to get my e-copies when I can! And guess what – NetGalley won’t beat us. We can contact publicists directly. We can contact authors directly. Don’t let it get you down 🙂

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