Diary of a Bookseller

The Aches of ARCs

While searching for an out of print hardcover on used book sites the other day, I stumbled upon a number of secondhand sellers trying to sell advance reader copies of books and it inspired me to say something about them here.

Diary of a Bookseller #19

There’s nothing quite like getting an advance reader copy (ARCs, also know as AREs and galleys) of a book you’ve been waiting EONS for, and as a bookseller and buyer for an indie bookstore, it’s definitely one of the best perks of the job, yet one I often wind up taking for granted now that it’s been a few years. But as physical ARCs are slowly disappearing, I think it’s going to make the secondhand selling problem more significant.

ARCs are free for booksellers and reviewers, but not for the publishers to create. Each ARC still has to be printed and distributed, a process that only continues to go up in price. And they’re not printed on cheap paper either – most ARCs are still regular paperback quality.

Because they’re distributed by publishers for free (with the hope that you’ll write them a review in return), an author DOES NOT get any sort of compensation for an ARC that gets sent out, which means when irresponsible and selfish dumbasses try to sell a book they got FOR FREE on a secondhand site, they’re pocketing all that money – there are no costs for them to re-coup and the author hasn’t seen a SINGLE CENT from that book.

If you are buying an advance copy secondhand, it’s not “AN EXCLUSIVE FIRST EDITION” as I’ve seen them advertised, it’s an uncorrected proof that it is ILLEGAL to sell. And if you buy it, you’re essentially stealing from the author – it’s not dissimilar to pirating music and movies or stealing artists work for your own projects/business.

Most ARCs are for debut or lesser known authors, authors who are STILL WORKING A DAY JOB because their dream job of being a published writer doesn’t generate enough income to support them and their families full time. Every sale counts in helping that author achieve their dreams, and have more time to write their next novel, research their next work of nonfiction, or spend time with their loved ones.

So that’s my PSA for the week – if you don’t want to work for free and have people steal from you, then apply the same thought process to the authors you love and don’t buy ARCs secondhand. Report the sellers who are attempting to sell them to you to the publisher of the book they’re trying to sell.

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