Monday, February 21, 2011

Why I Don't Like Free Books

So, sometimes I do the whole Twitter chat thing.  Usually, it revolves around YA-type stuff.  Sometimes it's super-secret spy chat.  But you wouldn't know anything about that, so let's just keep it on topic, okay?  Anyway.  I was saying.  I sometimes get on these chats, because the ideas and the people are generally interesting, sometimes entertaining.  But without fail, I usually draw what I like to call The Ire.

This happened a few weeks back.  One of said chats involved ARCs (Advanced Reader Copies), and I harmlessly wrote the following:

This brought about The Ire.  People started yelling about how I always buy the books I get free! and If I like the book, I'm it's biggest fan!!!  I tell EVERYBODY about it!!!

Okay.  Fine.  But you still need to buy books.  As many as you can afford.  Especially if you're a writer.  Quadruple that shit if you want to be published. 

I know, I know.  You're the biggest fan.  They might as well put you on the publicity team.

Still.  Buy the book.

Listen, if you can honestly tell me that you go out and buy the book every time--great.  Good for you.  But if a restaurant told me, "Hey, don't worry about paying for this meal.  It's on us!  Come back anytime!  Always free!"  Well, first I'd be worried by how happy they are (did you see all those exclamation points?)  Second, I wouldn't be going out to eat very many other places.  Why would I?  If I could get the best food - for free - before most people got sat at a table?  Damn right I'd be at that place.  Every night of the week.

And that's what I see online.  A veritable feeding frenzy of YA types, looking to score the next big ARC.  To be able to get on Twitter and say something like:

"SQUEE!  I just read DIVERGENT!!!  Most amazing book EVA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

(And as a note, I was read the first few pages and given the plot breakdown of DIVERGENT by the editor, Molly O'Neill, and it does sound amazing... but I will never 'squee.')

I admit, there have been plenty of ARCs I'd love to get my hands on.  One being my friend Nova's (especially after reading her first chapter...)  The other being MY FRIEND Suzanne Young's (whose first few chapters I also read... very good.) But I want to support them as authors.  And that means buying the books.  Because at the end of the day, that's what really matters to me:  supporting the authors.  Going to the store.  Picking the book off the shelf.  Paying for it.  And then reading it.

Can you really argue with this?

Okay, I probably sound like a dick.  I get it.  I'm also willing to live with it, no matter what.  Bring on the flames.  The endless retweeting.  Because, if I want to be published, I need to invest as heavily into publishing as I can.  In a monetary way.  Luckily, I can afford to do so.  If you can't--go to the library.  Library sales are huge.   And if you don't have a library?  Well, comment here.  I'll send you some books.


  1. As a writer whose book you bought, I have to say, I'm very happy you did! Thanks. As someone who gets a lot of ARCs from my sales rep, I don't really have a problem with that. If I like the book, I really talk it up, and so for all intents and purposes, I've hand sold a lot of books I really like. I also rate them on Goodreads. Like you though, I rarely ask anyone for an ARC. If I do get one from a friend (like Nova - hopefully!), I generally give them a lot of publicity and then when the book comes out, I either buy it for myself or I buy it and do a giveaway on my site. Also, I request that my library buys it. If I did not have my ARC source, I probably would not read very many ARCs because I don't really blog anymore, so I don't feel it's right to request them and give nothing publicity wise in return.

    As an author, I have to say that a lot of people read my book as an ARC and a handful even got free copies from me or my publisher once it came out, but I do believe that their support and the publicity they gave it really does come back to me in sales. And for the most part, ARCs go to booksellers, librarians, and reviewers anyway. It just SEEMS like we know a lot of people who get ARCs because the bloggers who get them are the ones who we have as friends on Twitter and FB. If my publisher thinks (and they do) it's beneficial for bloggers to get ARCs, then I'm with them. And just in the last day or two, two writers have recommended my book on Twitter, so writers do spread the word too. I can totally see your point, and I definitely won't put you on my ARC list for The Right & the Real! :-)

  2. I kinda, sorta see what you mean. Yes, people (especially writers!) should buy as many books as they can.


    There really are legitimate reasons for ARCs. For example, I'm a librarian responsible for a sizeable book budget. I rely on selection tools--lists and review journals, etc. I also rely heavily on ARCs.

    Publishers send these copies and provide them at conferences, for good reasons. If we like them, we a.) purchase copies for the library. b.) we buy them for book clubs and/or for class sets c.) we recommend them to patrons, and b.) We publish reviews of them in professional journals.

    And in truth, most legitimate journals (SLJ, Horn Book, etc.) and major media outlets prepare reviews solely in advance of the titles' publication. The reviews are timed to coincide with release. Hence, the Advance Reader Copy.

    Having said that, I am not an ARC hyena. I don't snap anything I can get my hands on at conferences. For me, accepting an ARC is an act of sacred trust for me. If I get one, I read it and give it all due consideration for selection and review. If it's a worthy book,I order copies for my institution and I promote the heck out of it to anyone who will listen.

    So yes, I totally hear you, but I still have to do my day job and that often entails reading reading ARCS.

    Yes, I fully admit, it's one of the most wonderful aspects of my job. By night, I read books. By day, I choose them and I push them on other people!

    Yeah for the MLS degree!

  3. Joelle-

    I agree with you. 100% But I think your source of ARCs isn't common. Maybe I should've put it in the post, but I think published authors are somewhat of an exception. Same goes with librarians. You have a platform. Librarians have a tangible way to influence sales. To me, there's a difference.

  4. Jenny--

    Like I said in the comment above: librarians are a different story.

  5. Thanks for including my book in your post, Bryan. And thanks for reading and being so positive about my first chapter back before ARCs even existed!

    I think I agree with you on this. Maybe I shouldn't admit that as I sit here planning a giveaway of a signed ARC... hmm.

    Did you read this post by Holly Root? Probably.

    Anyway, I wish people listened to this:

  6. Interesting points, Bryan. I am set to receive two ARCs this spring, but that's because the authors specifically asked me if I wanted to read them and provide thoughts.

    I'd love to be one of those groupies who receives a thousand ARCs each year, but frankly, I like my local bookstore too much.

  7. 9 times out of 10, if I like the ARC, I end up buying the book when it comes out anyway. Just sayin...

  8. #1 You're not a dick.

    #2 You're allowed to have an opinion.

    #3 I agree with you. Buying books = A REALLY good thing (with or without a previously received ARC).

  9. You have a blog award!