‘I’m Kind Of A Big Deal’: On ARCs

‘I’m Kind Of A Big Deal’: On ARCs

I'm Kind of A Big Deal Ron BurgundyWhy is it that ARCs are SUCH a big deal? Seriously, almost ever issue of the wonderful ‘Dear Story Siren‘ seems to have an ARC related question. Every other week, it seems there’s on some blog or such that I follow on how to get your hands on an ARC. When did these books become such a status symbol? I mean, I guess you can say you’ve made it as a blogger when you are offered ARCs which you are dying to read.

I’m not immune to this. I get ARC envy. Badly. I shouldn’t, considering I do get an abnormal amount of ARCs. However, I’ve been doing some thinking about review copies. I think review copies are pretty sweet. I mean, these are some big ticket books that we get to read early. HOWEVER, at the same time I am a bit disappointed in myself. Over half of the books I have read during the year have been ARCs.  Now, I know normal people would not find themselves disappointed by this. BUT I just keep thinking about my shelves and shelves of TBR books.  And I say to myself, why yes, I will make reading books I plunked down money for a priority. THEN, I get offered the most shiney wonderful looking book and forget about the owned-TBR.

Now, this isn’t a post to say I will give up reading galleys. However, I think I want to read less of them. I’d rather put my focus on things I already own. I’d rather be super excited about what I am reading. I mean, there’s a lot out there I haven’t read yet. I will attempt to read 100 of my already owned books next year.

I suppose if you must always be reading reviews of the latest and greatest book, this blog is not the right fit for you.

What do you all think? I mean, be real here, ARCs are awesome. Do you have a separate pile for books you’ve purchased/got from the library and books for review? Do you accept books for review? Does being offered ARCs make you kind of a big deal? Are there any bloggers who review older books that you recommend? Would you quit reading my blog if I reviewed less of the newest releases?

About April (Books&Wine)

April is 28 years old and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. In her free time she can be found reading, working out, or eating junk food. She often wears her sunglasses at night.

Comments

  1. Great post! I read and review not only YA but I read/review for several online romance sites so I am offered ARCs from YA and Romance quite a bit. It’s overwhelming at times because honestly, like you mentioned, I really need to focus on the books I bought too! I want to read those books just as much but for some reason I feel more pressure to read my ARCs first.

    I don’t get that many YA arcs which is kind of a relief truth be told. I love reading early reviews and yeah, there is a thrill in reading something early but then it often makes the wait for a favorite author even longer anyway.

    Also, being ARCs does NOT make you a big deal in my mind. If you have strong content, that’s what makes you a big deal blogger for me. I like varied content and that is where really the pride should be, not on receiving books.

  2. I think ARCs are great but I’m happy that I don’t get many of them. I have too many of my own books to read plus I like getting things from the library. If I ever do start requesting ARCs I would ask for e-books. I think they’re much easier to read and they don’t take up as much space. I think it’s important to review older books as much as the new releases. I will never stop reading your blog because your reviews are awesome! 🙂

  3. I’ve received a couple of ARCs, and while it’s awesome and I wouldn’t say no to more, I read posts like this and realise that it’s not always the best thing to get lots. Yes there have been some books I really wish I could have read already, but if I was only reading new books I never would have found a passion for classics, nor the time to read them.

    I don’t think you need worry about reviewing older books, it’s interesting to be introduced to books you might have missed in the past.

    • I do get nervous though, it’s like magpie syndrome, people are attracted to shine-y new things, and I’m totally not immune to that.

      Classics are awesome, I wish I read more of them, actually I plan to read more mainly so I can watch the BBC mini-series versions.

  4. Halfway through the year last year I made a decision of no more arcs (unless it was a book that I would have gotten anyway) until I got my TBR pile down to half of what it was. I am still not there and I do *miss* getting ARCS but I have to say I found the enjoyment of reading what I want again. I still get ARC envy though LOL

    • I like that plan, and I’m sure you’ve found some genuine keepers in your TBR pile. For me to get my TBR down to half would over five years, if I read 200 books per year.
      Owned TBR would only take 2.5 years to get it down to half.
      Guess I have some reading to do.

  5. I only accept ARCs that I’m excited and pumped about reading. I make time for those. But if it’s a galley that has been sent randomly without my consent, I wait until I have free time to read it.

    But I don’t think getting ARCs makes you a big deal. And for anybody that DOES think that, I roll my eyes at you. I see newbie bloggers that schmooze their way into dozens of packages of ARCs because publishers aren’t as picky as they want to appear to be. Those are the bloggers that make it blatantly obvious that they’re only in it for the free books. And I’d rather read a blog full of already-released book reviews rather than one from a blogger who focuses primarily on free galleys and upcoming releases. Point is, receiving a lot of ARCs doesn’t make you a good blogger; your reviews and content is what matters.

    That’s why I think a blogger should start off by reviewing store bought/libary books when they first begin their blog. Establish yourself. Work for it like the rest of us have.

    • The store bought/library books suggestion is such a good idea. Most people I know start off that way. I always feel shocked when I read posts on newbies requesting ARCs because most people I know waited a few months into blogging, as opposed to two weeks before requesting the first ARC.

      Also, I can’t help but think ‘I roll my eyes in your general direction.’ Clearly Monty Python has warped my brain.

  6. Being offered ARCs is nice, but it’s not what makes a blog a blog. I’ve put aside a large amount of my review copies recently to tackle all the books I’ve been buying and have just started picking up my ARCs and review copies again – and even then, I’m getting very few in the mail. As much as people THINK it’s a status symbol, it’s not. Yes, it’s a sign that a publisher is willing to work with you – but let’s face it, you can get ARCs and have a sucky blog.

    Even though you don’t, April. 🙂

    • Nicole, you are such a nice person.

      I just wanted to put that out there.

      I do feel like ARCs are a status symbol, but I don’t think they are indicative of quality or character. It’s kind of like the type of car a person drives doesn’t indicate the type of person they are, just the money they have, etc.

  7. Good question. I’m new to this, and I get really excited to get an ARC, but then, I have the same problem as you do — when do I read all the books that I have wanted to read for a while? I’ve tried to keep a balance, and also, I haven’t really pursued too many different avenues to receive ARCs. So far, I’ve been able to keep reading away at my own TBR pile too.

  8. I totally understand why you feel that way. I think my problem is feeling like I’m not reading the ARCs I receive fast enough, and I think a lot of bloggers feel conflicted between what they already own and what they receive for review.

    I tend to keep my review pile and stuff I already own pile separate. I don’t think getting ARCs means you’re a big deal, so much as it means that you have a well established blog that others enjoy reading. I also have to say that it’s refreshing sometimes to see a review of a book that’s already been out for quite a while, so if you read less new releases I would still be a regular follower 🙂

    • Good point, some times it is a nice change of pace to see older books being posted about.

      I also feel like I don’t read ARCs as fast as I should but at the same time, I’m not spending over $1000 per year on ARCs and financially, I should probably spend time where my money has gone.

  9. I am thrilled to read reviews of books that aren’t the latest and newest releases! I do the same thing on my blog. Mainly I just blog about what I read when I read it. It could be new or it could be old.

    I follow your blog because I like the way you write. I’m happy to learn about books from a while back that I might not have known of before!

    • Cat, that makes my day, that you like how I write.

      I like that you don’t have boundaries in what types of books you blog, just that you blog what you are reading. I know there’s the push to specialize (i.e. strictly YA, strictly sci-fi, strictly literary) and I don’t know a lot of people who only read one thing.

  10. I would definitely NOT quit reading your blog if you reviewed fewer new releases! I don’t receive ARCs – never have, really, other than like 8 exceptions in all these years of blogging – and I don’t think people hold it against me. I don’t care if a blogger reads older or newer books as long as I enjoy their reviews, as I certainly do yours. Sure, I like being kept informed about new books, but I also love it when bloggers introduce me to forgotten gems.

    • I feel like your blog, Nymeth, has been responsible for a lot of what is on my TBR and is one of the blogs I do frequently read.

      I think people definitely do not hold it against you. However, what I notice is that your reviews are always thoughtful and insightful and I feel a whole heck of a lot smarter after reading them.

      I think I’d like to be like that someday.

  11. I’m with Nymeth. I would definitely keep reading. I receive and review ARCs, but I’ve come to realize that the more ARCs I accept the less control I have over what I get to read. I think in 2011 I’m going to cut back a bit.

  12. ARCs are great and all and I do tend to get super-excited when one appears in my mailbox but I LOVE my books, the ones I purchased because I wanted them so badly. I guess you could say they are considered to be a bit of a status symbol but whatever. I just want a good book–doesn’t necessarily have to be the “newest”.

    And, of course I wouldn’t stop reading your blog, no matter what books you review. Love your posts!

    Mary
    The Book Swarm

  13. I would keep reading! I review a mixture of both new and old..as you know! I generally don’t review ARCs because I don’t get too many requests and I’m totally ok with that. I have a bajillion books that I bought on my own that I need to get to!

    When I discovered this thing called “ARCs” when I first started blogging (yes, I didn’t know about them until I got involved in the blogosphere) I was like OMG I want to get tons of ARCs but I’m just kind of whatever about them these days. If there is one I want, I’ll ask for it and hope I get it. If I get sent one and want to read it..cool. If not, don’t care. I don’t have a lack of books!

    I think you’ve “made it’ when you have loyal followers (no matter the number!) that enjoy reading and discussing things on your blog. I think I am more geared towards having discussion (not just comments) than I am with ARCs.

    But..then again ARCs are awesome and I can’t resist the allure of them! But I try not to focus on them!

    Great post!

    • Engagement as a metrics for success is a very fascinating idea. I mean, when people are tuning into your blog and excited about what you have to say and then in turn sharing their opinions.

      AND I think you totally get me on the unresistable allure of ARCs. So Jamie, I am very glad you commented!

  14. What a great (and honest) post! It definitely makes you think about things as a blogger. Luckily I’ve only gotten two so far.

    Personally I’d love to see older books reviewed more often in the blogosphere. I primarily use the library, and while they definitely have newer books there, there’s usually a wait because they’re on hold. However, if I see a review of an older book that I’d like to read I can drive over to the library and find it on the shelf 75% of the time.

    • I never use the library, but that’s because I am terrible at returning the books on time and the library here is creepy and smells of elderly people.

      I’d love to see more reviews of books with cheesy covers, lol, like the 80s covers because I do wonder if what’s inside is actually good.

  15. Wow, you’re totally right: I do have a tendency of thinking ARCs are cooler than already published books. I mean, when I won that Beautiful Darkness ARC from you I was so excited, not only because I won something, but because it was an ARC and it’s special (even though it’s already been published). Very strange of me now that I think about it.
    And no, of course I wouldn’t stop reading your blog!

  16. I’ve only gotten 3 ARCs, one from Goodreads, one through a different contest. My blog is still pretty small. But yes, ARCs are awesome. But I merge them in with the rest of my pile of owned books. Hey, if you ever need help getting rid of some ARCs you don’t have a chance to review, I’ll take them off your hands 😉

  17. Melissa V. says:

    I think it would be refreshing to see older books. So many tours and ARC books out there that bloggers are reviewing the same books at the same time. In one given day I can see a review of the same book multiple times.

    • I think the reason why you see reviews of the same book multiple times is because there’s a huge push to post reviews of a book on release day by the publishers. I’m thinking a staggered approach might be better to build and maintain momentum.

  18. Hey, you know what, I’ve never gotten ARCs and that’s fine with me. I’ve only received two review copies so far and I really felt happy when that happened because they were willing to send books all the way to the Philippines. Now I realize that I don’t want to be pressured to read books that I’m not sure I’ll even like. I still have a lot of books that I own in my TBR pile and I’m excited to read most of them. ARCs are great, yes, but I wouldn’t mind reviews about older books.

    • Without reviews of older books I’d have never read the Lady Julia Grey mysteries or the works of Megan Whalen Turner. Clearly the blogosphere needs an awesome books blast so those of us who have been missing out on older books can catch up!

  19. Do I love getting ARCs? Sure! But I’ve always made sure my ARC pile isn’t bigger than my bought pile. And lately I’ve been trying to focus more on my books since there’s quite a bit of time before most of the ARCs come out.

    I really don’t get offered a lot of ARCs and I’m kind of glad. Most of the time, I turn them down because it’s not my kind of book and I don’t have time for something I’m not really excited for. So when I get ARCs, it’s because *I* requested them. Or the author put in a good word for me. And I’m perfectly content to keep it that way. It means that I pretty much get to regulate my own pile. It also means that I recognize it’s getting out of control for my available reading time and I choose not to send out any more requests.

    If that means I’m not a big deal, I’m okay with that. And so are the almost 600 people that follow my blog.

    But to your questions:
    I do keep a separate pile. My bought books are usually on top of my bookshelf, overflow gets a stack on the floor. My ARCs are in a separate pile, organized so the ones coming out next are closest to the top.
    I accept books for review if I want it enough. Because I’ve accepted books I’m not that excited for and they’re still sitting on my pile…sorry books.
    In the eyes of some, sure it makes you a big deal. But, I’m not that concerned about it anymore.
    I’m not really sure. I know that I review whatever I read, no matter when it came out. I think I recently reviewed a book from 2004 and Lanna does “Old Skool Favorites” sometimes with books from the 80s/90s.
    Definitely not!

    • I am really glad for your honesty, Julie!
      Also, some how I keep missing Lanna’s Old Skool Favorites posts, but that’s so cool to show love for 80s/90s books.

      I TOTALLY know what you mean by accepting books you aren’t excited for. I did that at BEA, and some of those are still sitting on my pile.

  20. I don’t get too many ARCs. Most of the ones I do get are from reviewing for VOYA–and then I have to wait until they publish my review before I can post about it. The majority of the books I read are from the library. I rarely buy books. Or actually, I rarely buy books for myself. I like reading good reviews of books that are available, regardless of the year of publication.

    I just started a new thing on my blog–From the Vault reviews–because I found an old notebook of book reviews I did when I had just started as a librarian. I’m posting them now and they’re all books from the late 90s, early 2000s. There are SO MANY good books out there and so many people looking for good books, we should blog about them all! 🙂

  21. I hardly receive ARCs either because I live outside of the US, but I’ve received some ebook galleys and I’m perfectly fine with that. I do get ARC envy sometimes, but I figure that I would get the book eventually if I really, really want it. If I get the ARC and there’s no hurry, I don’t think I’d read it immediately so it will be just a part of my growing TBR pile.

    While I welcome all ARCs, I’m perfectly fine reading the ones I already own. 🙂 The books will come (translation: I will buy them or someone will give it to me) when I really want them to. 🙂

  22. I really do try to limit myself on the ARCs I’ll request or accept, but I still seem to have them coming out of my ears! Gotta admit that it can make my day to get a book I am really excited about!

    • It is very exciting to come home and open the mailbox and see a wishlist book in there.

      Well, Lenore, you are KIND OF A BIG DEAL, so I would expect that you have them coming out of your ears. 🙂

      It can be hard to limit when they come unsolicited.

  23. Really interesting post and great thoughts. I’ve fallen into a similar pattern myself in that I’ve been accepting so many review copies lately than many of the books I own – some of which were given to me as gifts by close friends – have gone unread.

    As a blogger, I do think it’s fun to read ARCs. I hate to admit that I do get a smug little smile of satisfaction about the “HAHA! I’M THE FIRST!” feeling when I review a book by a popular author before other lots of other people have read it.

    What’s interesting though is that I’ve found that I tend to have more conversations on my blog when I review classics or other popular books that have been out for a while. When more of my blog readers are familiar with a book, it can lead to some insightful questions and answers rather than when I’m reviewing a not yet released book and most of the comments are along the lines of “love this author”, “can’t wait for this one” or “nice review, definitely going on the TBR”.

    (By the way, love the Ron Burgundy reference!)

    • I still love Anchorman, all these years later.

      But YES, I get that all of the time when I read older books or classics. It’s like people who have read it feel free to jump in with their experience and I think that is awesome.

  24. I actually get very few ARC’s and rarely respond to pitches (I only say yes if I’m really very truly interested). I didn’t start my blog to ‘get stuff’. I started it to have a place to post about the books I read. I actually read more backlist stuff than I do new releases or ARCs

    I don’t really get ARC envy because I already have a huge list of books I’ll never get to. In most cases I’m happy to let my book blogging friends weed out the good ones and give me recommendations.

    • I hear ya. Certain book bloggers are like a filter, and I’ve found a few who have tastes similar to mine, so if they don’t care for something, I am almost certain I will feel the same way.

  25. I am so laid back that I don’t really care all that much about what arc’s people have gotten……I much prefer reading a review of a book that I could actually buy right this second if they made it sound like something i would love.

    You not reviewing newer books would NEVER make me stop reading this blog. I love this blog because I appreicate and respect your opinion, whether it be on a book thats due out in five months or one that was released five years ago. In fact, the blogs that I frequent the most don’t review all that many new releases and I go back time and time again because their post are thoughtful and insightful and make me realise it’s not about the shint fancy books that haven’t even been released yet, it’s about the books that could be sitting on my shelf right now, books that i probably will love for years to come that maybe wouldn’t have been brought to my attention could become my all time favourites.

    And to be perfectly honest, review books stress me out. Being in the UK I don’t get half as many books as most bloggers. Maybe 4 at the most a month, which isn’t so bad, and even that freaks me out. i hate having the responsibility of having to read a book that I maybe don’t want to read or don’t feel in the mood for. i would much rather read a book that I have bought specifically because I wanted to read it and not because of some obligation. So, I say do what you like because i will love this blog regardless.

    • I love love love your point about wanting to be able to buy the book ASAP.

      Also, they stress me out too.

      And a great example of a blog that I pretty much stalk every post is Forever Young Adult. They do review older YA quite a bit and I am always convinced that I need to drop money on whatever they are reviewing.

      • i like to think of our blog as the devil on everyone’s shoulder. cos we’re all “buy this book! drink this champers! eat this tasty business!”

        yeah, we’re evil.

  26. Every now and then, this issue weighs on my mind a little. I now get more review copies than I ever would’ve imagined a year ago, and I do see them as a responsibility like Carla says. But I’m the kind of person who likes responsibility (when it’s something fun like ARCs; not so much with utility bills).

    For me, the perks of review copies are (a) reading books ahead of publication date and (b) being sent books I never would’ve picked up in a gazillion years that turn out to be totally awesome. The negatives are (a) the fact I neglect my bought-TBR pile, too and (b) feeling like a freeloader if I don’t want to read one of them. The truth is that when I review older titles, I tend to get less comments or post hits, so I’m never sure whether people are really that interested in less recent titles… but I’d like to get back to my early blogging days and review more of a mix. Actually, that would make a great basis for a book challenge.

    • See, I’m the type to shirk responsibility.

      I get the freeloader feeling a lot. I mean, I will accept something then sit down to read it and be like, ugh what is this.

      Plus, I want to be able to support the books I like by buying them. FYI totes do not regret buying ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS.

      See, it’s generally the opposite for me. When I review older titles, I get a bit more hits. But then again, my hits are up there for newer books. Meh. Not sure how the hits equation works. I think because I have wordpress, my rankings as far as search engines goes increases when I post about older books, so I do get hits every day for a few reviews of older books, most likely from kids doing homework.

  27. Great post!

    When I started blogging earlier this year, I noticed that I got more comments and views on reviews that were for new release books… but the thing about that was I felt like my review was lost at sea with the rest of the bloggers review about the SAME book. And even now, when a book is released, you see the reviews for the same book on your google reader.

    So I told myself I would review older books that I felt deserved attention, unfortunately not a lot of people agreed lol.

    I do like receiving ARC’s, it does make me feel special that an author or a publishing company knows I’m here. But it shouldn’t be about that. I do like being able to read a book before everyone else, but I agree, what about the books that are already waiting to be read that I own?

    I’ve been on a bit of a debate with myself when it comes to ARC’s lately. I love getting books for review, but I feel obligated to finish them as fast as possible where as with a book I’ve bought, I can take my time with. Judging by my big change next year, I think I’m going to have to cut down on ARC’s either way. I don’t mind that so much, I do believe there are wonderful books out there that have been released for years that deserve some of our attention!

  28. I admit I love ARCs, but I’m neglecting books I own and series I started long before blogging. I’m slowing down on review copies of all kinds until I’ve put a dent in the pile of books I’ve bought.

  29. P.S I love reading reviews of books that aren’t new releases. I just started reading YA last year so I know there are plenty of “older” books I should probably check out.

  30. April, great post. I am checking up on blog reading, so I’m a bit behind (ok… a month behind), but I wanted to put my 2 cents in as well. 🙂 I really appreciate that you are taking 2011 to read what you are passionate about. It’s something I’ve been struggling as I get books from the library and books that I win and feel like I HAVE to review them soon, soon, soon. For a bit, it was bogging me down and I felt tired just thinking about reading. and that’s no way to read! Reading is supposed to be about fun, so I have also taken a pledge of sorts to read for fun and not make it a workout.

    That being said, I (a small-time book blogger who doesn’t actually review ARCs) enjoy those who review older reads as well. Probably because I was in school and didn’t read anything but textbooks for four years, I really enjoy reading about older reads. I’ve read several book blogs over the last couple of months, and it seems like reading reviews of ARCs so far in advance makes me wanna say, “uh can we stop talking about how great this novel is already?” by the time it comes out. I appreciate the great reviews, and I will read the book eventually, but I guess I get tired of reading reviews for books I can’t get my hands on now. I’ve gotten much more excited about books that are the beginning of series and published a little while ago (i.e. Poison Study, Vampire Academy, Blue Bloods) that are awesome (and I can pick up at the library). Perhaps that makes me slow on the uptake, but I like reading good books that do withstand the hype. Anyway, that’s my personal opinion. But whether you review the newest and best or the oldest and most interesting, I’ll always enjoy reading your opinions for I generally enjoy what you like. 🙂

  31. I really liked this post, April. I love reading some of the latest and greatest books that a publisher sends me, whether as an ARC or a finished copy, and I don’t plan on stopping.

    However, like you, I need and want to get through some older books too. Right now I’m reading a book that was originally published in 2005, called Pieces of Me by Charlotte Gingras. I’ve missed a bunch of really great novels, and I for one plan on reading and review them when I can. On my blog, I try to review a mix of frontlist and backlist titles and that makes me pretty happy. That’s what blogging is supposed to be about, right?

  32. I’m struggling with this issue right now. I’m weighing the pros and cons of continuing to accept ARCs. Yes, there is that status thing and there’s also the excitement of occasionally finding an excellent book that I might otherwise never have read. On the other hand, there are the many, many books in the ever-growing TBR, a lot of them older books that got or get little or no recognition. And there’s reading just for the joy of reading something that takes my fancy. And there’s reading the ARCs just because I feel obliged to because I accepted them.

    As I said, I’m still struggling with this issue. I hope to formulate a policy on ARCs soon that allows me to balance my reading.
    Naomi Johnson recently posted..REVIEW- OUTSOURCED by Dave ZeltsermanMy Profile

  33. Having worked for Borders for a number of years and attended BEAs and other ARC laden events, I’m sure there are years when my bookshelves would be the object of great ARC lust and book blogger envy.

    I think a lot depends on how you acquire the ARCs. If someone gives you an ARC to specifically review and you accept those terms, then I think you’re honor bound. If you pick up an ARC that is given out in a book frenzy, then the level of commitment is lower. I write both and I always read what I want to read. 🙂

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