Docking the ARCs

It turns out that ARCs are surprisingly difficult to give away.

What’s an ARC? An ARC is an Advance Reading Copy of a book. They are usually ugly, and their mother dressed them a little funny, to make them instantly distinguishable from their grown-up sibling, the published book. They are also known as review copies.

A FPOW was located in a major metropolitan area where the local newspaper still had a separate “Books” section on Sundays. The newspaper received TONS of review copies. ARCs are not supposed to be sold, it says so right there on the front or back cover. Also, they are usually uncorrected proofs, so they are may have typos, the illustrations are missing, the index isn’t done yet, etc., etc.

Said newspaper, instead of pulping all these lovely books, donated them to the local library. On the order of an industrial pallet load or two every month. Some of the review copies they received were “real” books. Those were added to the library’s collection. But most were ARCs. Because the ARCs are not quite the real book, the library didn’t add them to its collection. And the library couldn’t sell them either, see the disclaimer in the above paragraph. So, they were distributed to the staff. Particularly for fiction, they make excellent reading copies.

ARCs are also distributed at library conferences. I’ve generally stopped picking them up as not worth the weight, but I used to. In the continuum between free beer and free kittens, with the added charges for luggage these days, too many ARCs have tipped towards the free kittens end of the bar. I already have 4 of those, and I know how free they aren’t.

Publishers are now doing eARCs, and there is a site that specializes in eARCs called NetGalley which absolutely loves librarians.  Also, for anyone interested in Science Fiction and Fantasy, Baen Books Webscriptions sells eARCs ahead of publication for some of their authors.

But the weeding project has passed the end of the alphabet for the fiction, and has now journeyed into non-fiction. I used to bring a lot of non-fiction ARCs home for Galen from that FPOW, as well as keeping some for myself. It turns out that a lot of those were of the “read once” persuasion. We’ve turned up a couple of dozen so far, that need to be properly disposed of. And it’s more difficult than I thought.

I don’t feel right selling them. Legally, I’m pretty sure I can in spite of what it says on the cover. I own them. I just don’t feel right about selling them. I can give them to the Library Friends, but, there again, I don’t feel right about them selling them, either. And I’m not sure if they will. They might just throw them out. I already know that the library will not add them to the collection.

Book Mooch will not let me add any more inventory until I accept books from people. I am way too much of a net giver to be permitted to give any more books away. Period. End of discussion. I tried. The fact that I am moving in two weeks and just plain don’t want any more books right now, and really, truly want to get rid of books doesn’t seem to matter. That I honored all of my previous commitments doesn’t seem to matter. I’m violated some kind of un-posted community norm by having a massive credit balance, and therefore can’t add any inventory, no matter how much I want to give stuff away. My account was suspended until I agreed to this.

Paperback Swap will only deal with ARCs on an unofficial basis, through their forums. This looks like a really good service generally, but it’s going to be more difficult to get the ARCs placed through the forums than through the regular listings.

The process of organizing the library has been fascinating but bizarre. According to Library Thing, we’ve been through over 2,600 books. We kept 1,700, and have sold or given away over 800.  There are 5 boxes of that on the floor of my office to be run through Powell’s Books, to see what they will take. We have a massive credit with them, which will end up being spent on ebooks through Google. I love technology!

But, like kittens, my ARCs are free to a good home. And just like the kittens, I’m having a difficult time finding loving homes for them. I was looking for a place where I could give them to people to read them one more time. It shouldn’t be this hard.

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