Discussion: Reading ARCs …is it such a good idea? Why do you want them so badly?

Hi dear friends,

 

I am back with another discussion post that I would love (again) to get your intake about!

Last week I posted about why I think publishing houses don’t have it right all the time by favoring blogs with big followers count when sending ARCs (you can find the post HERE).

Well I was really pleased with all your opinion but there is one of you (yes Alexandra that’s you) who asked a very valid question: why do you read ARCs?

Literally, Alexandra wrote:

” Forget Netgalley and lusting after badly formatted ARCs because you want to be what? The first to read it? Don’t fool yourself. What price are you paying for these so-called “free” books?

Ask yourself why you want to help traditional Publishers take advantage of book bloggers (and their followers) by having the blogger do everything the Publisher use to pay for. Readers. Reviews and promotion. Now they get it all for free in exchange for an eBook.

Do you know why I post “bad” reviews? It’s because I buy the books I read and review. So I feel justified in sharing my opinion of a book I paid for not meeting a certain standard of publication.”

 

Arresting right?

 

So let’s look further into ARCs and their pro and con.

Pros

1.You get to read a story before everyone else! Similar to scoop in journalism ARCs are Advanced reading Copies as in distributed before the book is officially released.

 

2.If you read it before anyone else you can have a feeling that you are “in” and privileged. Yes yes I know these are no noble sentiments but human nature can be petty like that. You can gloat if you want and tell others that YOU have it…not them.

 

 

3.You discover new authors with minimum risk. Because you don’t pay for the book you can roam wider and try books you would maybe not have tried before.

 

4.You get to read for free! The only thing publishers and authors would like to have is a review. No strings attached.

 

BUT, is it really so perfect?

 

Cons

1.If you don’t pay for the book, you are morally linked to the writer of publishing house to write a review.

And that my friends often come with guilt if you did not like the story. How will I review if I did not like it? Do I have to finish? And if I give a bad rating will I still get other books by this publisher/author? Should I “brighten” the review (maybe not lie right away no, but …).

 

Here is a personal side note: I have no problem giving low ratings or DNFing ARCs as I promised to myself that my first duty is to the readers and followers. Hence I’ll always be honest. What I do in such circumstances is contact the author/publishing house and ask if I can review on the release date or if they’d prefer delaying. But I WILL publish.

Honestly so far they always let me be free of my choices and thoughts. I would cut tie with them otherwise.

BUT I can understand that many don’t do it and cave, giving a “better” rating than what they would have given if they had bought the book.

 

2.The pressure is another con.

Pressure? What pressure? Well often people ask for more ARCs than what they can reasonably read. It’s understandable as you see them all bright and shiny on Netgalley or on PR lists. Surely you won’t get them all so you’ll be all right, right?

Sorry to say this but karma is b@tch and you will often get your ARCs “in batch” and will feel stressed as you “have” to deliver reviews around the same time!

That’s one of the reasons I have decided to tone down on ARCs.

 

3.The other reason is ….if you are a “moody” reader you are screwed!

When you requested this ARC you probably were in the mood to read that kind of story. But it is possible that by the time you get the ARC and have to read it your mood will have changed and you won’t want to really read it anymore.

As you promised (a promise is a promise) you risk reading a book that you won’t fully enjoy or at least not as much as you would have if you had read at the right time.

 

There are probably many other pros and cons but these are the ones I can think of right away.

 

Conclusion: I think ARCs are fun and bring something thrilling and exciting to a book blogger but only if you don’t overdo it and are able to stay true to yourself no matter what.

 

Now that’s your turn! Give me your two cents on that topic. What did I miss? Do you agree? Disagree? Do you request ARCs?

Thanks for reading!

Sophie

 

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49 Replies to “Discussion: Reading ARCs …is it such a good idea? Why do you want them so badly?”

  1. I love this list. I give ratings based on what I think of them and could care less about the publisher or the author’s feelings. If the author cared the book wouldn’t suck. I have never DNF a book. Even in its horrific state, I will still finish the book. It’s just in me to do that. But I have skimmed on some and read the ending cause it stunk. I don’t feel obligated to read anything and fell I will get to it when I get to it. Ask Netgalley – they are still waiting on some reviews. =0)

    Mary

  2. Great post-Sophie, and yes, there are so many pros and cons to ARC’s! They’re fun to get, but the obligation can be quite a beat down. I’ve really held back on them for the last few months, and it’s been nice to try and catch up on my tbr (haha!) and read more for pleasure. I will say that I totally blew it for April and have a mountain ahead of me… I’m scared!

  3. I really want to focus more on my backlist this year, so I’ve been trying to be more selective with my ARC request. Some late and unexpected approvals had me scrambling to meet deadlines last month but I’m hoping that was just a fluke and won’t happen again. I do like to read books early and help promote the ones I love, but I also don’t have a problem writing reviews that point out what I didn’t like about an upcoming release.

  4. I no longer request arcs like I used to because reading them became a second job. It wasn’t fun anymore. Plus, i would get requests like “don’t post your review if you can’t rate it 3.5 Stars or higher”. I’m sorry but if I took time to read this book, i will have my say. I’ve also unfollowed many blogs that I noticed only give out 4 or 5 stars to every ARC they got. I lost faith in their review integrity. It’s my goal to be honest about how i felt about the book, good or bad. I say why I gave it such a rating. But I agree, I’ve chilled on arcs too.

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      Yes some PR agencies ask not to post or not to post the day of the release if we give less than 4 stars. I stopped working with these. I get they want to promote an author or a book and giving 3 stars or less has quite the opposite effect but like you’ve said if you’ve read a book you have your say!
      I often give 4 or 5 stars because I think I have found a “way” to select books that will likely “float my boat” but if I don’t like it I’ll say it. What I will do though is try to explain why it did not work for me and who might like the book. I’ll try to be respectful because behind teh pen there is someone who has worked long hours to write and publish something.

  5. I think there is a valid point here… Book bloggers are taken advantage of. We do everything we do to promote and we do it for free. In other blogging realms (lifestyle, parenting etc) they are paid to review a product. I don’t know what constraints are put on them but they get paid for their time and effort. I’ve often wondered why things are so unbalanced… But blogging for cash isn’t my motivator (or I wouldn’t be a book blogger, lol) so I just plod on.

    ARCs, free books… They were very handy back in the days when money was tighter. It also used to have that little ‘i’m special’ thrill. Now? ARCs are a bit of a menace. I still accept some, I still sign up for tours, I still occasionally request on NetGalley but I’m no longer flattered or gung-ho about it and being a mood-reader, they do tend to stress me out.
    Plus, reading a book early – for example, in a series you adore – is great but then you have even longer to wait on the next one. That’s a HUGE downside.

    Time is a major issue for me nowadays and I guess I’d rather spend it reading something I want to read in the moment, and talking about it when I feel like it, rather than feeling obligated to do anything because someone somewhere is putting demands on me.

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      Nicci I didn’t know other bloggers were paid! Influencers yes but otherwise no…
      And you are right about getting the next book in the series earlier being a perk and yet a downside as the wait is even longer!

  6. I don’t think I could give them up if I tried, Sophie. But if I’ve got to be addicted to something, I could do a lot worse, right?

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      Hahaha yes you could do a lot worse Teri!

  7. If it wasn’t for arcs proposed to me, I would never had crossed to the fantasy genre !
    I wouldn’t have known the WONDERFUL sovereign serie I love oh so much !!
    And, specially for indie authors, I like to think we do help those authors who don’t necessarily has the big “background” traditionally published authors can have.. And some are really good and do merit that exposure we offer them!

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      Kristina that’s true that ARCs play a huge role in promoting indie authors! I think the ebook made it possible to just have indie authors as they were able to distribute their work to a great number of potential readers!

  8. I never feel guilty for not enjoying or DNFing an ARC. It happens. It just wasn’t a good fit for me, and I let the publisher know why. I am more about promoting books I did like, so I probably won’t mention it much, but I tried, it didn’t work, I move on. I am grateful for ARCs, because I couldn’t afford my reading habit. It’s less about early access for me. I am reading 25+ books a week, and I prefer eBook format, which drastically limits what I can get from my library. I don’t feel the guilt or pressure, but maybe that is because I am that certain age…..

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      Sam do you read 25 books a week???? Or a month? Because if it is a week I think I just fell from my chair! But yes I can see why ARC could be vital for you (or you would not have enough money to eat for the rest of your month LOL)

  9. I don’t do ARCs for a simple reason: the library in Vienna is absolutely magnificent, so I already have tons of great books at my disposal for almost no money.
    Getting ARCs would be a kind of pressure. I have to read, have to write a review. It’s just something I can skip, as long as the library has new stuff for me to read 😉

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      Oh Becks I would love to have a magnificent library in my town too! I think you’d find me confined in it every day LOL

  10. In the last almost 5 years of blogging, I’ve gotten pickier and picker for what ARCs I’m willing to accept and request. Now I have it narrowed down to my favorite authors, authors recommended by friends and authors who sounds like a perfect fit for me. But I only accept a handful a month, since I’m a huge mood reader. I try and pick a mix of genres for the future months out so then I can mix them in with other genres I’m already planning to read. Then I don’t ever feel like I’m being forced to read a book. It’s been a great method so far. 🙂

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      Jen I also came to request only from unicorn authors or recommendations from friends! Now I should try to mix the genres like you do! What I do though is only request two per month now and schedule months ahead to keep room for my moody reads!

  11. yes I am thinking I want to slow down on ARCS….most of the time I only request books I would buy with my own money anyway, but I hate the pressure of them and I can be a mood reader at times. There is a lot of stress that comes with ARC’s. I do read about half the ARC I used to but I want to get to the point where its only one or two a month instead of the normal five or six. I do think that its important to not read just ARC’s, which is why I do audiobooks and library books so much. For me its not about free books or anything, I think I get impatient and if its a book I don’t want to have to wait on, then I will grab it. But I should be more patient with my books.

    Great discussion and I like how informative and well thought out it is. Thanks for sharing.

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      Thank you for your praise! And yes I can totally get the “don’t want to wait” argument because I am just like you! This month I requested an ARC for a book I have already pre ordered just because it will only be published in June and it’s from one of my top YA authors!

  12. “If you don’t pay for the book, you are morally linked to the writer of publishing house to write a review.” I used to feel all guilty about writing a negative review because hey, they spent money to send me a copy of the book and to write a review! At the very least I should give feedback? Over the past few years I’ve learned to not “brighten” the review if I truly dislike the book, though I always try to find something to like about the book.

    I’m always careful about overwhelming myself with ARCs, especially ones from Netgalley. For some reason, seeing anything lower than an 80% on my ratio has always been at the forefront of my mind, so I’ve made it a habit to only request if it’s at least 3+ months ahead of publication and I can only have 6 ARCs at a time before requesting another. Of course, I’ve changed it a little over time, but I still keep in mind not to go more than 10, haha. (I just like high numbers, LOL)

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      Hahaha Sophia it’s because you are a “walk the lines” kind of girl just like me 😉 We want to do our “duty”. But 10 books??? That’s a lot!

  13. Under pressure to read a ton of ARCs you requested? feeling overwhelmed?

    i dunno, maybe don’t request so many? Maybe prioritize “do I have time and interest to read and review this” over “i wanna read this first, for freeeee!!!!!!!”

    i guess it depends on what each specific blogger’s priorities are.

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      hahaha Andrea of course you are right! I’ve always tried to be “reasonable” with ARCs but I confess that sometimes it was difficult not to request something. But yes the key is priorities indeed 😉

  14. I’m glad you continued with this topic, Sophie. I love ARCs for several reasons. They’re free! I donn’t have to wait for them to be available to purchase. And I find some great new authors. It does bother me a tiny bit when I can’t give the book a high rating. I just keep in mind my review is my opinion and I keep it honest.

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      So we think alike Laura!

  15. I don’t know how many times I gave bad reviews on books from Disney Publishing but I’m pretty sure it definitely contributed to me not getting approved for “The Devouring Gray.” It’s fine though.

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      Well Claire so far I haven’t noticed being “banned” but I don’t have many approvals to start with so …

  16. I like Alexandra’s comment. It definitely makes a lot of sense, especially for someone like me who doesn’t usually request ARC’s. I buy most of my review books so if my review is less than favorable, I’m okay with that. That guilt thing I don’t have to deal with. I mean I still hate giving a less than favorable review. Although luckily I don’t have a lot of bad reviews?

    But I also see the advantages, and especially trying new authors for free. That makes a lot of sense too. And getting ARC’s is fun, right? Life should be fun sometimes. 🙂 So I see both sides haha. I think your conclusion is about right. 🙂 Everyone should just do what works for ’em!

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      Hahahaha Greg my “problem’ is that I am a really empathic person and usually can grasp both sides of a story too! As many things in life I’d say enjoy but don’t overdo LOL

  17. Some great and valid comments and opinions here, Sophie, and aren’t I the opinionated one? 😀 I’m glad you used my thoughts to ask people to discuss this one further, because it’s complicated. There are so many good reasons to read ARCS and so many cons too, as you wonderfully highlighter.

    I think as long as Reviewers know what they’re getting into, and use the system to their own advantage, great.

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      Exactly my conclusion Alexandra! And yes I love your opinion as it gave me ideas LOL If you have others I’d gladly talk about them!

  18. I admit that at first I was really nervous when I didn’t like one ARC at all. And only because it was an ARC, given to me for free. But I did go and publish my “bad” review anyway, nothing bad happened! I’m alive and still getting requests. 😀
    Now I take them as just books. In the end they are the same as my own bought copies sitting on my shelves, right? So if I feel like not finishing it because it doesn’t keep my interest up at all, then I DNF it just like I would DNF a book I’ve bought.
    Though at the same time I’ve stopped gathering millions of ARCs. It’s just not worth the stress to have thousand books waiting to be read at the same date, just to be reviewed. I tend to only request ARCs for books I really really want to read and almost 100% sure that I will enjoy them. Mainly because I’m a mood reader and books that already feel like I’m not sure if I really want to read them, I probably never will pick them up and read.

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      Hahahaha Hanna I do recall that first “fright” feel when I pushed to publish the first énegative” review for an ARC. But like you say nothing bad happened and I am still standing 😉 I’ve always tried to limit the ARCs I requested as to have low pressure but the heart is weak and sometimes ….

  19. I don’t request ARCs anymore simply because I realized it wasn’t worth the pressure and the moral dilemma of what do I do if I don’t like it?! I’m always striving for complete honesty when it comes to reviews, so now the only ARCs I request are those from authors that I always love and have never really disappointed me.
    But yeah, the hype of being the first to read something vanished quite quickly. Besides those books I’ve super anticipating, I am okay with waiting a month or so and buy my own book.

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      Talia that’s mostly the same for me. Only my unicorns will do or if the blurb really got my attention and I have a very good gutt feeling (it never led me astray so far)!

  20. ahaha! Love this post, Sophie! I never request more than three books in netgalley because I know they’re going to be approved at once. I can’t handle the deadline pressure and yeah, reviewing an ARC that you didn’t loved was pretty hard especially the ones sent by the author.

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      Oh yes the ones sent by authors are the hardests if you did not like them! It crushes my heart each time as I know they put a lot of work into it! It’s their baby. So I will be honest but I will try to be gentle and respectful. Give a constructive review. Something they can use to become even better.

  21. I agree with your “You are screwed” sentiment when t comes to being a moody reader. I have toned down my ARCs to a minimum because I definitely don’t like to reads every book every time. Also I am petty, so I like to have a book before everyone else lol

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      I just KNEW that you were petty too Ari! Welcome sista ;-)))

  22. I’m in the process of reading less ARCS. It’s a lot of stress mentally and I’ve been enjoying mood reading quite a bit!

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      Kayla I think most bloggers do read less ARCs after some time. I think it’s like eating too much for too long: we need to go on a diet to get back the love of reading 😉

  23. I’m starting to feel like I don’t want to read on a schedule. Or be stressing that I have to read x number of books this week when I feel in the mood to read something else.

    I think I’m going to try an arc free few months, maybe May, June and July and see how it goes.

    I do suffer with a small case of FOMO but I’ll have to knock it on the head if it surfaces!

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      Hahahaha I’ve never gone totally ARC clean so far as it always seems that some of my unicorn authors release something every month but I try to ask two ARCs max 3 a month. That way I get room for my moody reads 😉

  24. Good points! While I’m not in any position to receive ARCs, I don’t think I’d want the pressure. I want to read what I want, when I want. I also hate to talk bad about any author so writing a bad review or having to finish a crappy book would be a drag. But, I’m not a good reviewer LOL I simply leave stars cause I’m too lazy to do a review. My mind is already on the next book and if I don’t write it ASAP, I’ll forget so much of the book : ) My memory is terrible

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      Hahahaha Tracey like you I just have to write my review immediately! If I don’t have much time I will outline a draft and fill it in later thanks to my notes. If I wait more than one or two day I forget!!!

  25. I have it where I read two a month.

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      That’s a good number for me too Jennifer. Less pressure but still the opportunity to read something exciting before anyone else 😉

  26. I’ve scaled down on my ARCs because it takes a lot of time. Of course it’s great to read before anyone else but that’s not important to me. I love to promote without reviewing. So that’s my focus. Now I have 2 maybe 3 ARCs a month and that’s the right amount for me. I want to tackle my TBR shelf and now that’s possible. More freedom to read and share my love for authors and their work. The perfect balance.

    1. BewareOfTheReader says: Reply

      I adjusted my ARCs request like you Malene but do happily promote without reviewing too. I try to only have one or max 2 promo posts a day as I also want “real” content on the blog 😉

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