Beyond the Blurb | Stop Supporting the Sale of ARCs

Morning, friends!

In several discussion posts, I’ve addressed ARCs on a variety of issues. And I feel as if I need to discuss them further. Book Expo and BookCon have passed, and yet seeing ARCs being sold on eBay and other sites infuriates me. But it doesn’t surprise me.

At the starting price of $99 USD, Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo, sold for $255.00 USD (roughly $350 CAD) on eBay. Yes, it’s signed. And yes, this particular seller routinely offers ARCs. Unfortunately, the author and publisher will never see that money.

As with all ARCs, this one also has a “Not for Sale” notification. But publishers and authors don’t necessarily have any legal ground to go after sellers. Many ARCs will be given out at conventions, signings, and other bookish events. Would a contract help prevent this? Not really. Think of the problem as second-hand book sales, which isn’t an issue at all. But this topic is highly contentious in the publishing industry.

And I believe publishers need to confront the issue. I’ve offered some solutions, but unless tougher, and ultimately more restrictive, laws come into play, they cannot do much, except blacklist bloggers and reviewers. It’s not as if you stole a hacked copy of the book, then offered it freely on the Internet. The publisher must accept the fact that this type of publicity will fuel the seedy side of publishing.

So how can we help support authors, publishers, and the book industry? These tips may be common sense, but they’re worth noting:


Never Stop Reporting

I cannot stress this tip enough. When you see an ARC on eBay, Amazon, or another website, do not hesitate to report the seller. Sure, legally, no one can prevent that person from doing so. However, making bad press for a multi-million dollar company will draw some eyes.

Sometimes though, reporting it to authors won’t help. They may be able to get the item flagged or reported, and several authors have brought the problem to their social media platforms. But most of the time, that company won’t care.


Don’t Confuse the Sale of an Old ARC with That of a New One

Sure, an older ARC copy won’t harm anyone in the industry. In fact, many collectors often look for ARCs, especially rares ones. So that sale isn’t affecting anyone. But a new copy, where the book hasn’t released yet, is. Perhaps that ARC will eventually get to the target audience or may receive a review, but do you honestly believe most readers will have the funds to afford such a price? Probably not. So it’s going to the wrong person.


Certainly, Don’t Buy One

Again, common sense, people. Sometimes, we lack it, but this advice is straightforward and won’t baffle you. When a book is coming out in six months, what’s the point in buying an ARC, when you can purchase the title at $15-25? It doesn’t increase your credibility as a blogger or reviewer. I strongly believe that if other people found out, you’ll lose that and more.


Have an Extra Copy of an ARC? Give It Away

I don’t expect many bloggers to do this. However, if you have some funds to do so, then start up a contest on your blog or send it to a deserving reader who doesn’t have access to one. Many international and poor readers will never receive the chance of owning an ARC.


Understand You’re Hurting the Online Community That You’re Apart of

Self-explanatory, right? In this society and environment, that description doesn’t last long. If publishers put their trust into you, then don’t destroy that. Or you may break it for every single reviewer and blogger. Just imagine if ARCs become harder to obtain. Or worse, authors start selling them, excluding readers who cannot afford them. Just think about the ramifications of the industry that depends on readers. Think about the consequences everyone will face. Yes, I support the sale of old ARCs, not new ones.


What is your take on the topic? Do you support or oppose the sale of ARCs? Why or why not? How can we prevent the issue from getting out of hand?

13 thoughts on “Beyond the Blurb | Stop Supporting the Sale of ARCs

  1. Great discussion topic! I am definitely against selling ARCs and seeing them for sale always makes me so angry! I know Ninth House was a pretty sought-after ARC at BookCon this year, and it seemed like the publisher didn’t have many to give out. Seeing a copy for sale was just so disappointing. I hope something can be done about this because selling it immediately after getting it just defeats the purpose of an ARC.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post! I had no idea this was happening. There’s a trust and responsibility that goes along with receiving an ARC. To break that is just wrong. Thank you for the information.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ouch! Yeah no. This is not good. There’s such a symbiotic relationship between authors/ publishers and bloggers. The authors and publishers want marketing for their new releases and if that marketing is free then they get this via their dedicated blogging channels. Bloggers want the prestige and the status of having an ARC (and of course the more sought after the hire the prestige) plus free books never hurt and the effort they put in is a review which could be as little as 150 words if they want.

    That’s great. The thing about symbiotic relationships is that both parties benefit and both parties don’t suffer any negative consequences of that relationship. There’s a sense of honesty and trust when it comes to ARCs and so when this happens it’s almost like the psychological contract has been broken. An unspoken (and sometimes spoken) agreement has been breached. It’s upsetting for the authors who put time and effort into something that they won’t reap the benefit from either financially or through marketing and it’s upsetting for the bloggers who actually want to maintain that relationship and actually dedicate their time to reviewing.

    Of course the more this is done the more publishers will tighten the reigns and could possibly go down the route of limited ARCs, harder to come by ARCs with more selection criteria or people paying for ARCs just to have the privilege of being a reader of an ‘early release.’ It’s also a few though and not the majority and I’m hoping this is not as common to be a problem.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This needs to be said more!

    I get it, people want to read the book before anyone else, but don’t be the person who buys a copy from eBay, or sells one. Check out books for trade on Twitter or hey, why don’t you work really hard on your book blog and then ASK THE PUBLISHER like the rest of us!!

    It’s tempting, I understand, but it’s so much more satisfying to get a package in the mail and SURPRISE!! It’s that ARC that you’ve been DYING for that the publisher NEVER emailed you back about, look at you! The first time I got a physical ARC in the mail after asking the publisher I was SO happy, and I would love to have a big enough blog to be getting an ARC of Ninth House, but if I do get there, I’d like it to be on my own merits.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Great post, Siobhan! The thing that got my blood boiling about Ninth House is the person literally got the author to sign the book to make more money and put it up straight away. I can only imagine them saying “no, don’t personalize it” to Leigh in the queue. UHGH

    If only people would stop buying them, then the market would dry up and go away. I also think that with pubs putting so much effort on con drops rather than sending to the right reviewers via the mail, it almost perpetuates this black market of arcs because they are unicorns and highly desirable (which WHY. it’s an unfinished version of the book.) I really wish they wouldn’t do special ARCs and versions to make it more attractive to collectors, and that there were actual recourse for breaking the NOT FOR SALE thing.

    Also why tf does eBay make it so difficult and confusing to report this shit?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Great topic! I think that individuals should respect the “Not For Sale” that is *right* on the cover. (I see arcs all the time at Savers, though, and it just annoys me.) Speaking from experience, BEA and BookCon sway you into book fever, and it’s very hard to not take all of the free books being offered – but again, what’s the point of getting an arc if you aren’t going to read it? It’s such a fraught topic, and I wish there was an easy solution!

    Liked by 1 person

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