ARCs, Stacks and Hauls

“When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left I buy food and clothes.”

The quote is from Desiderius Erasmus. How totally appropriate, but also one I’ve lived by long before I knew it existed. My mom would tell you I spent my allowance on books when I was a kid. And generally owed her future allowances.

I’ve always collected books. More books than I could read at any given point in time. I love having the choice of what to read next. It’s not the object, it’s the content. Ebooks suit me just fine for most things, and they take up less space. This is a big deal when you move as often as we do, and when you own as many “dead tree” books as we do.

Still over 2,000. We haven’t even unpacked them all from the last move. In December.

About ARCs. I’ve worked in libraries that received ARCs in lots of different ways. One of my former places of work (FPOW) was in a major metropolitan area. The city newspaper still had a significant book section on Sundays, and received books for review. The newspaper donated their review copies to the library. About once a month we received an industrial pallet-load of books, mixed ARCs and “real” books. The “real” books often went into the collection. But the ARCs, never. Staff had the pick of the ARCs for collection development, reading copies, whatever we liked. But they were never put in the collection. If you are wondering what the newspaper got out of this arrangement, they got a tax write-off.

Other libraries I have worked at do sell ARCs at book sales, or they end up in the Friends of the Library book sales. I haven’t worked at a library that has put them in the collection, but I know it happens.

But what does any of this have to do with ARCs now? I can hear the question from here. The recent #ARCgate mess brought up a lot of questions and it made me think about the present and future of ARCs in general, and what any mailbox-type post looks like in particular.

I do get a lot of ARCs. More in one week than I can read in a week. I’ve always picked up more books in a week than I could read that week. The difference now is that I’m getting a lot of eARCs instead of deliveries from Amazon and B&N or borrowing books from the library.

But the ARC “stack” can look like a book haul, and that isn’t the purpose of it for me. I choose eARCs because eARCs are a win/win. My eARC does not automatically deny any other reviewer the same eARC. That’s the beauty of NetGalley and Edelweiss. No print, no postage, not necessarily a limited number of ARCs the way that a print run by its very nature limits the number of ARCs.

And no print ARCs left on my shelves at the end that I’m not quite sure what to do with. Because the last thing my house needs is more print books. One of the clear messages of the whole ARCgate mess is that what you should do with your ARCs after you’re finished is very, well, unclear.

What I’m curious about, dear readers, is how you feel when you see mailbox-type posts on book blogs. Do you see them as the blogger doing a bit to promote books that she or he might not have time to review? Do you see them as bragging? Do you find them useful for adding to your own TBR pile? Do you care?

Please share your thoughts! I’ve been having a serious re-think on this topic after ARCgate, and I’d love to hear from you.


3 thoughts on “ARCs, Stacks and Hauls

  1. Wow, that’s a lot of books! I have some ARCs that I have received from authors and bloggers in contests that I have won. I have not been following along with the ARCgate issue (PC is in the shop), so I am not sure what is happening there, but I still have my ARCs.
    I like the posts about what books you got that week. I usually add some to my own TBR. I have a habit of collecting books too. I just wish I read faster than I do to get through them faster. 😉

  2. Are you talking about what came up at ALA? I know I am getting more ARC’s than I can read unless I quit getting new books but I see one and it looks so good. Most I get are ebooks so they do not take up much space but they can get lost and I forget about them. Amazon Vine is the only one I get paper ARC’s from. Those I do read fairly fast as I have to review 80% to stay on their list. I do wonder when I see the huge stacks of books some people get each week. They put my stacks to shame but I think that they are probably like me. Each book looks so good it is hard to turn down.
    Jo @ Mixed Book Bag recently posted..Waiting on Wednesday July 25, 2012My Profile

  3. Personally, I’ve never read an ARC because I’m still a fledgling blogger, and can’t seem to get NetGalley to work on my computer. (Which kinda sucks) My personal opinion may change in the future, but this is my take on ARCs.
    I’d love to get one, and if I do I’d review it because that’s what they are there for: books that are put out there for people to read and promote. If I see bloggers making posts on what ARCs they receive, I’d add it to my TBR list. I imagine it as promoting, but if someone has, maybe, twenty ARCs in a single post, I’d feel a bit uncomfortable.
    Big note: an ARC is an UNFINISHED copy of a book. It’s a paperback copy of the finished book, except it has some things that are still a work in progress. Meaning the writing is probably not at its best. If I liked an ARC, I’d buy a copy as respect to the author and publisher’s hard work in creating it. (Besides, they look prettier and hardcovers aren’t as fragile) I’d shoot my mouth off on how great the book was to my friends, my local library, the local bookstore etc. until they want to stick duct tape on my mouth. I’d pass it on. If I don’t like it, I would still pass the ARC on because they were given to me to promote, and maybe it’ll end up in the hands of someone who loves it and promotes it further.
    Grace Lo recently posted..Review: Masque of the Red Death by Bethany GriffinMy Profile

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