One of the panel discussions I was on at ALA was All About ARCs:  “Librarians may have heard of Advanced Reading Copies (ARCs), but do they actually know how to acquire or use them? Why do publishers create these unsaleable copies? Have you seen them at used bookstores, Friends book sales, and should they really be there? What about those “digital galleys” that are becoming available? Come explore these questions and more with a panel of librarians and publishing reps who use them every day in many ways. Discussion topics: What are ARCs?; Who is the intended audience of an ARC?; Why do publishers provide them?; How can you get them?; Digital vs. Print?; What you can/cannot do with an ARC.”

Also on the panel: fellow librarians Kelly Jensen and Kristi Chadwick; and, from the publisher side, Jen Childs (Random House) and Victoria Stapleton (Little, Brown). (Can I mention again how much I love social media for being able to connect people? Because both Kelly and Kristi are people I met online; our whole presentation was organized online.)

I’m going to keep my post on this brief, because Kelly did an incredible write up at her blog, Stacked Books. With graphs!

I will say that this is an area near and dear to my heart. I remember at my first BEA and ALA being overwhelmed; taking so much; and thinking that an ARC was no different from a finished book. Thankfully, I’ve grown smarter. Both of those first conferences were things I thought I’d never attend again, for instance. I’ve learned to say “no” and to take notes about titles. (I also realize I’m privileged, in that, having done this for so many years, I’ve got contacts that I can directly ask for review copies. Still, I love being on the floor and seeing the ARCs and talking with the publishers, to find out what they are excited about to and make notes to organize my reading). I also love using the ARCs with readers.

What we spoke about, roughly:

What is an ARC and why do publishers create and distribute ARCs? (Jen and Victoria covered this area, and I found it very interesting. Like, that fewer ARCs are being made. And while I knew that ARCs cost more to make than the finished book, I didn’t know why.

How do you get ARCs? Kelly spoke about this, including using reporting back on a survey we did of librarians and bloggers

What do you do with ARCs? More Kelly, and more graphs

Digital galleys? Kristi spoke towards this, primarily NetGalley and Edelweiss, and I know I need to be using this more. Given the cost of production, digital galleys are going to become more and more popular.

What can/can you not do with an ARC? Kelly spoke about this, again with the survey results. I also chimed in, emphasizing this issue from the point of view not of the publisher (who is thinking, of course, “lost sale”) but from the fact that including an ARC in a collection is making a fraudulent representation to the reader. Other points I made: the real-life example of my niece relying on reading an ARC for a school assignment and getting something wrong because the story had changed between ARC and book. That because an ARC isn’t a book it’s quite OK to throw in the recycle bin after it’s been used.

We also had some great questions from the audience, such as what will be the impact on teen reading programs in libraries once ARCs go away.

I known this is concise, but if you have any questions, let me know!

And if there are any other posts about our presentation, let me know and I’ll link it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s