The Fine Line: From Marketing to Memorabilia?

The Fine Line2

Well, my friends, the time has come to discuss something controversial (::huge gasps from the crowd::). Here’s the deal. I have thoughts on bookish controversial issues all the time, but in the spirit of sitting around the campfire singing Kumbaya, I keep them to myself. But while discussing this with my lovely friends (you should know Holly, Val, and Amber by now), I realized that there isn’t anything wrong with discussing things that may be a bit controversial! Then, Jillian @ Jillian’s Books posted her thoughts about controversial topics, and as I was responding, I realized that basically, as long as we’re all respectful, why shouldn’t we debate the bookish hot topics!?


So, let’s start this out with a doozy, eh? Your favorite topic and mine to get really mad about, the buying and selling of ARCs.


Let’s get a few things clear right off the bat:

  • I don’t condone people selling ARCs.
  • E-books of any kind are not included in this topic, that is just flat out piracy.
  • If a publisher or author sends you an ARC, you do not sell it ever. End of story. There is no discussion on that front.
  • I am talking about old ARCs for this discussion. Really old ones.

So no, I am never going to say it is okay for people to buy any unreleased or recently released ARC of any kind. But this is basically what I am asking:

When does an ARC go from Marketing Tool to Memorabilia? 

I feel like there is a very, very fine line (see, the title of our feature is perfect here, no?) between what is okay and what isn’t. And I think that the line varies from person to person. I know some people who will only trade ARCs for ARCs, some who will trade ARCs for whatever you’re offering (ARCs, finished books, your dog, etc.), and some who probably hide them under their mattress or something, I have no idea what you all do. This is all just what I have seen on the #booksfortrade groups, hashtags, etc.

Basically, my question has several parts:

  1. What constitutes a “collectible” item/memorabilia, and what is just… ARC?
  2. What do you consider “buying” to be? Is money the only form of currency that is taboo?
  3. What are the ramifications for buying an old ARC (i.e., for the publisher, the author, etc)?

1. There are tons of sites that sell or auction old first drafts and such, right? So let’s start off with that. I mean, search even legitimate sites, and there are old manuscripts, uncorrected proofs, and other such items for sale and/or auction. So, you might see something like these:

fineline5 (1)fineline3 (1)fineline2 (1)

So, if we’re playing Devil’s Advocate here, and I am, I dare say that someone purchasing one of these wouldn’t be thought of as taking advantage of anyone, right? Perhaps just a rare book collector, or fan of the book/author? Okay. Well… what about this one?

fineline6 (1)

Well crap. We can probably say the same thing as above. A fan, for sure (especially if they have $850 to spare). So what is the difference? Clearly, the date. What would you say to this buyer? 

2. If you have ever been on books for trade, you’ll see that people have actually offered their souls for a hard to come by ARC of their favorite series. I myself may have done that a time or two. Sadly, no one seems to be in the market for souls, but they are in the market for other books. Sometimes other ARCs, sometimes finished copies, sometimes collectible swag… but that is where my question lies. Isn’t it still putting a “price” on an ARC? Think of it this way: Someone messages you, and says they have an ARC of Book XYZ, your favorite book ever. They are willing to trade for some new book, whatever. You don’t have that book, but you can easily purchase it. So you go buy whatever new release they’re dying to read, send it to them, and they send you the ARC. You’ve just bought it, but added a middle man, no? OR someone offers to send five ARCs for your one ARC that they have to have. Is that currency?BpeiIRP

Please don’t take this as judgment either way! I have no answers, I am just throwing out questions! And again, let me reiterate: We are talking about OLD ARCs here- NOT new releases! 

3. Say you are insanely rich and can afford that Harry Potter situation above. (Can you loan me a $20 maybe?) You own lots of Harry Potter stuff. All the books, of course, and the movies (seven, eight, however many, I didn’t see them), and you have a cape and some Harry glasses, and maybe buttons with whatever “house” you were told on a Buzzfeed quiz you should be in. Hell, maybe you went to the theme park, and participate in a Quidditch league. I don’t know what you do with your time.log

My point is, will the author, publisher, or anyone else be affected by your purchase? Not likely. You certainly didn’t take a sale away from them in that case. I am pretty sure they aren’t relying on that book for marketing. (I am pretty sure they don’t need to do any marketing at this point, but that is another story.) You just grabbed something from your collection.  Maybe you saw one in a Goodwill store, or used book store of some type. What then? Basically, you bought a used book from a third party.

Since I really don’t want to get into the argument of if someone should sell the book (probably not, but let’s leave that for another time), let’s pretend the following is true of the aforementioned third party: A little old man has just found this book on the street. His little old wife is sick, and some great-nephew told him this book was worth money, so he sold it. The little old man has never heard of ARCs, okay? He is just a little old man, stop throwing things at him! So… does the answer change?

Here’s the problem with all of it: this slope is slippery as hell. It always was, and it always will be. See, who is to say that even selling the super old 1939 book is okay? I have no idea! Where is the line drawn? We can all probably agree that buying an ARC of a book we have seen published in the last like, 5 years is an awful idea. But how far back do we go? When does it stop being a bad idea? Or is it never, ever okay, even if the author has been dead for 300 years and the publishing company was a quill and some staples?

So this is my question, to you, for debate: Does an ARC ever go from marketing tool to memorabilia? If so, when and how? Is there a degree of fame that leads it to be okay? A time frame? Let’s do this!

Posted October 15, 2015 by Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight in Discussion, Discussion Challenge / 50 Comments


50 responses to “The Fine Line: From Marketing to Memorabilia?

  1. I may not have the popular opinion, but to be honest… it doesn’t bother me much. I don’t see a difference between selling an arc and selling a regular copy of a book, or borrowing a book or buying it from a used bookstore. None of those options result in revenue for an author, but are so commonplace that no one ever thinks about them. The line, for me, is the release date. Once it’s out there… it’s out and I need to accept that not everyone who reads it paid money (to me) for it. Yeah, I’d love if every single person out there bought my books and that resulted in getting royalties, but I’m happy people are reading them.

    • SAME! I mean, if it is used, the author sees no profit. So… what is the difference? I mean, you can read it at the library for free too, again, what is the difference? Yeah, I agree with you. I mean, I guess the big problem for me is that if an author or publisher gives someone the book for free, it’s shitty of that person to then sell it for profit. BUT if it is an old ARC, who even knows how many people it has gone through, or what happened to it. That’s why I think after a few years, it’s probably fair game. I am glad you agreed with me, I read your comment the minute you posted it- I was SO SCARED to do this post- and I opened my email, saw your comment, thanked you in my head profusely, and went to bed 😀

      • HAHAH! so it would have been bad if I’d disagreed with you in ALL CAPS? Well, I’m glad I could set your mind at ease and help you sleep. 😀 Technically, I suppose, you don’t REALLY get an ARC for free, since it’s usually expected that you review it, which has a value of its own, monetary or not.

        • YES, I would have cried! 😛 And that is a very good point! I mean, I never ever could sell something that I’d been given. Maybe that is because I am a hoarder, who even knows, but I just wouldn’t do it. But buying it is kind of another story, if it is old. Because okay- when your books are like, incredibly famous with movie rights, wouldn’t you rather all your special copies be with readers who love them as opposed to jerks trying to make profit off of your work? I don’t know, the whole thing is mind boggling. Let’s just work on those film rights for you instead 😀

  2. … In which I am completely silent because that was too much insightfulness for one post. *blinks* I’ve never actually thought about ARCs as a kind of collectible commodity — I mean, if I got an ARC of a book I adore, I would absolutely be the stash-under-mattress kind of person, so it’s a collectible, but I wouldn’t think of buying two hundred editions including all the ARC editions. Possibly because I am not rich enough, but I think that there is definitely a point at which it doesn’t legitimately “hurt” the publisher/author to trade ARCs on some sort of monetary scale.

    And I think that the book blogging community makes money a lot more taboo than it really is. Which is why the middle man situation seems to slip by while we scream and rage when people actually wave around banknotes. It’s like, book review blogs put so much effort into helping market these books and they can rarely monetise their blogs. Not that I think it should become a commercial niche, but the taboo is definitely something we should review.

    Also controversial posts are the best. I always worry when I’m writing them (posted one just last night, ahaha) but the comments are never flaming or anything, so it’s fab.

    • Bwhahah! Thank you!! I worry too- I was so, so scared to post this! But I love them too- especially yours, I think I drooled over yours 😀

      I absolutely agree with you! See, this kind of all spurred from a post I made on Goodreads in a trade group about looking for The Hunger Games. Someone sent me a link to it on Amazon,trying to be helpful, and then of course, seventy people were like “GAHH YOU CAN’T! THAT CAN’T BE THERE”, what have you. And then I was like “I will trade this entire stack of books for one”. But… isn’t that the same thing as just buying it? Hence the questions, especially since I know how ridiculously expensive Harry Potter ARCs are, and how they are basically collectibles at this point, right?

      And then, I read a post from an author talking about how he wouldn’t mind if his ARCs were on sale, as long as it was AFTER the release, and basically said that he’d feel like he “made it” if people were trying to buy unfinished books of his when the finished copy is nicer and the same price. So… yeah. I agree. MUCH more taboo than it needs to be 🙂

  3. This is a really interesting discussion, Shannon, and one, I must admit, I’ve never really thought about. 🙂 Personally I’ve never really understood people who want ARCs of their favourite series – I can understand when people set about accumulating a real collection of items, but personally I’d much rather have a finished book than an ARC that hasn’t been proofed. That’s just personal taste, though. When I receive ARCs from authors or publishers it’s great, but I’d never pay money for them. In fact I once bought a book second hand online, and when it arrived it was an ARC that had been scribbled in by the editor and that really annoyed me because I wanted to read the book!

    That being said, I think there is a time when ARCs can be sold. I hate online piracy, but if someone wants to sell an ARC and someone’s willing to buy it I don’t really see why that’s a problem. The publishing house wouldn’t be benefitting from the ARC anyway because they don’t sell ARCs to reviewers, and with a physical ARC it’s just that one book whereas online piracy makes it easy for loads of people to read a book without paying for it, which is especially awful for the author. I agree with what Alyssa said about money being a taboo subject – bloggers and reviewers need to make money as much as authors do, so if they get the odd bit of cash from selling a book they don’t want to somebody who does, I don’t see it as a problem.

    Also never be nervous about writing controversial posts – I love reading discussion posts, and I’ve never met anyone in the book blogging community who isn’t respectful. 🙂

    • Aw thank you 🙂 I suppose I don’t understand it MOST of the time… but I must admit that I have a pretty hardcore Hunger Games collection in progress, so I DO need to have those ARCs one day!

      I totally agree with you about online piracy- that makes me so, so mad. That is NEVER okay. I think of how awful those poor authors must feel to see all their hard work being stolen, and it makes me want to cry. People who do that are the WORST. Especially because you can read the book LEGALLY for free at the LIBRARY.

      And thank you so much for the kind words, sometimes I DO need to remember that we are a good bunch and I won’t be attacked for sharing some random thoughts 😀

  4. You know…I’ve NEVER even thought about this. o.O
    I *coughs ashamedly* don’t even get why ARCs can be so coveted. I think I am an un-memorabilic hermit crab or something. But I would much rather have a new shiny copy of a book, newly printed, than a super valuable old ARC. So it kind of doesn’t affect me so much. xD
    I feel like it’s always going to be wrong to sell a book that has “not for sale” on the cover (ARCs in Australia have that tattooed on their poor little papery faces, at least).

    • I DO want a pretty finished copy. But if it is a series I LOOOOOVE (so basically, The Hunger Games, and maybe one or two others), then I need ALL the copies. Which includes ARCs sometimes, I guess.

      I do agree- I could NEVER sell one- no matter what. I mean, I had a few older ARCs, and I gave them to people who were dying for them, because that is SO wrong to sell them, IMO. But like, if someone IS selling them, I feel like it is better for them to go to a home that really wants them, as opposed to sold to some jerk who just wants to make MORE money. If that makes sense?

  5. I don’t even know what to say to this. You’ve summed it up with absolutely perfect clarity and I don’t think I could really add anything more substantial to the conversation. I’ve never really been involved with the purchasing of ARCs. I’ve, obviously, received them from publishes before but gone out of my way to purchase the ARC of my fave book? Never. I didn’t even know people did that! So I don’t know what to say. I always thought it was a great alternative to simply trade ARCs but now that I think about it, yeah, that’s pretty much money but just in another form so there goes that idea… I think I’ll self-implode if I think about this anymore, but fantastic job for discussing this so perfect. I look forward to reading everyone’s comments!

  6. I never get physical ARC’s so I never really thought of it. I think saying it is a slippery slope sums it up pretty well. And it seems that with older books it’s almost okay, but with newer books it isn’t, but then what is old enough? I also think it’s weird to imagine a reader profiting from a copy they got for free for review, on the other hand it is their copy by then, so can they do with it what they want? I think it would be easier if either selling all arc’s would be okay or none, so there’s no double standard. I don’t think I would sell ARC’s if I would get them and I wouldn’t buy them either, like Cait mentioned I prefer a new copy over a used ARC.

    • That is exactly it! What constitutes “old enough”? I mean, is it 10 years? 50 years? Or is it just when it reaches a certain point of popularity? It is so hard to navigate!

      And I agree with you- I want the shiny book with the pretty dust jacket too! I have bought plenty of books I had ARCs of for that reason. I guess the reason people WOULD do it is if they were collecting series or authors or something like that!

  7. I would never sell or buy an ARC. However, I do see the slippery slope of trading an ARC for a finished copy of a book. But, if the book is already out that there is a finished copy of it, I find it is less of an issue to me if it is traded for a finished copy. When I have started a series with a physical ARC, then I often would like to continue the series in the same format. There’s just something neat about having them. As someone who doesn’t always get the physical ARCs, I don’t always get to do that. Sometimes I want a physical ARC instead of the e-copy because honestly I prefer to read a physical copy of the book. This is a really great topic. I know many people have very strong views either way. I think there is a point when it could become a collectible, especially older titles. And then you get into the difficult bit of figuring which is okay, and that is very hard. The publisher doesn’t want it sold, probably for the most part because it isn’t a finished, proofed copy. But if it is sold as a collector’s item, then the author also gets no money out of it, and that doesn’t seem fair either.

    • Totally agree, I LOVE to have books in the same format! And yes, that seems to be where the problems come in- how old is old enough? And shouldn’t the publisher technically get to sell the collector item? That is what bugs me the most I guess. Not that they’re sold, but that any jerk who stumbles upon one can sell it for any amount of money.

  8. I don’t think it is right to sell newly published ARCs. I could see the allure of classic ARC books, but I wouldn’t buy any of them. I would not buy an ARC anything. I don’t think it has that kind of value. In fact, I have a bunch of ARCs that I am a bit sad about. I can’t even give these to my local library, I don’t think they would even want them. Would they? I am not really into memorabilia for books. I have a bunch of signed book marks, but to me the have no real value. I like signed copies of my own books, but then I feel like I have to take such care of them. It sucks the fun out of me being me and a little irresponsible with my stuff. The bookish things for me that hold the highest value are the ones with my name on them (i’m a little narcissistic, i guess). I think the most alluring part of them is that they hold no value for anyone but me. I would not go too crazy over an ARC that wasn’t intended for ME. No way I would pay for something to trade it for.
    As far as discussions, I love them all.

    • No, it is NEVER okay in my mind to sell new ones. In fact, about a year ago, I bought a finished copy (or so I thought!) and was sent an ARC and I was so upset about it! And yeah, I don’t think you can give them to your library, sadly. I have heard that you can donate them to like, teen centers, that sort of thing though. And teachers will use them for their classroom libraries! So those are a few options 🙂

  9. Fantastic freaking post, Shannon. This was wonderful and I just love controversial topics. I think they’re wonderful. So, I never understand why selling ARC’s is a bad thing? I mean I like what is the “why?” Is it because you got this book for free from the publisher so you shouldn’t sell it? If that’s so, then what about this… I just got a finished copy in the mail from the Publisher, would it be bad if I went and sold that? Or is the fact that the book hasn’t been released yet, so it would be taking money from the author? So many questions, oops. Hmm, I guess I’m just a little confused on that whole thing.

    Though, I do agree. With the Harry Potter and To Kill a Mockingbird…those are from so long ago that can you get upset at someone for purchasing/selling that? In my opinion, I don’t think so. I mean you said everything perfectly…there is a fine line, but where does it start and where does it end? That is the magnificent question.

    • Aw thank you so much!! I think that for me, the reason you shouldn’t sell an ARC is because the publisher sent it to you for free, so selling it is like, taking advantage. ALSO, if the book is unreleased, it means a lost sale for the author, and that isn’t fair either. But older ARCs? Yeah… I don’t really see the problem. I mean, especially if we are talking a hugely popular book or series, there’s no way it is taking a sale from the author or publisher.

      And thanks! That is the thing- I don’t think anyone would think twice about someone buying To Kill a Mockingbird. But then we get to Harry, and I feel like some people would NOT be okay with it… and then where does it end? It’s interesting to see everyone’s answers!

  10. I used to work at an indie bookstore with a “rare” books section that also included signed and/or collectible arcs (signed HP, signed Hunger Games, etc.). It was also standard practice to have authors sign ARCs that could later be sold. Personally, I think if a book is a couple of years old (maybe 5?) and the ARC really is collectible (new looking or signed or whatever) then it makes sense to sell it as memorabilia.

    That said, I personally don’t like the recent trend with collecting ARCs. I think it is adding unnecessary value to books that are meant to marketing tools that can be passed on. Even the barter system makes me uncomfortable. When a friend “traded” me for an ARC by buying me a book I wound up giving both away because I didn’t like the nature of the transaction the more I thought about it.

    I don’t have the space or desire to save old arcs so that is rarely an issue. If I end up having older ones I either bring them to work to give away or try to pass them to a reader/collector (though like I said that has become a lot more tedious of late). For newer titles I have started doing “ARC Adoptions” on my blog to get them into new readers’ hands and for that I just ask people to cover shipping because otherwise I’d go broke.

    • I totally agree with your first part. I mean, J.K. Rowling is NOT missing dinner tonight because someone in your former store sold an ARC 😉

      I DO also agree with the trend about ARCs, to some extent. Like, if it is your absolute favorite book, then I DO get it. BUt ALL the ARCs? That doesn’t make a ton of sense to me. Finished copies are prettier! Those ideas about rehoming your old ARCs are awesome! I love your “ARC Adoptions”, I have got to catch one of them before the books are gone- one of these days, I will! 🙂 I think shipping is absolutely fair, plus then the book gets reviewed again! I like your way of doing it for newer releases and unreleased books.

  11. You’ve pretty much summed up everything I wanted to say on this topic, so I think I’ll just break it down maybe? lol. Okay let’s begin:

    1. I don’t mind giving an arc to a friend if I don’t want it anymore, but for the most part, I would like to collect the original arc along with the physical copy for my collection. It’s not that I’m obsessed with arcs, but I think it’d be cool when I’m like 80 to show people my collection and for them to see that I have advanced reader editions of some awesome books. Am I the only one that thought of this? lol

    2. I’m glad that you pointed out that some traders who want an arc but don’t have a certain title the other person is looking for, actually go and purchase a title to receive said arc. I’m sorry if anyone does this, but that is bat shit crazy to me. I feel as though, if you can buy someone a brand new shiny book for an arc, your ass can wait until the release date and buy the book yourself! Maybe it’s the anticipation of reading the book earlier, but nope, I don’t give a damn how bad I want to read it, I’m not buying someone a new book in exchange for an arc!

    3. I’m completely against people selling arcs period. They’re for promotional purposes only, and it’s sad that I get on twitter or IG, and people are selling and happily buying arcs. Like people, the damn book will come out, arcs are NOT sacred.

    So to keep from going on a rant, I shall end my comment here lol. Great discussion girl 🙂

    • 1. AGREED! I like to keep mine too, especially if I liked the book. I mean, if I didn’t, then it can find a new home for sure 😉
      2. Bwhahah so true! I mean, I get the allure of reading a book early (trust me, I do!) but I would definitely rather wait for the finished copy- especially because I just paid someone to give me an old book! That they have already read, AND they now get to read ANOTHER new book, at my expense? No thanks!
      3. That makes me stabby on IG too. Or anywhere. I know how sad some authors were after BEA when they saw their unreleased books on eBay 🙁 It just is not fair to take away a legit sale from an author!

  12. It’s early, and I’m on my phone, so I’ll keep it slightly shorter than usual, but it genuinely doesn’t bother me much when someone trades/sells an old ARC. Obviously it’s a douchebag move when the book hasn’t been released yet, but once the finished version is out there for everyone to buy, I don’t particularly care. The only reason why you shouldn’t do it is probably that it takes sales away from the publisher/author, but I can’t imagine ARCs making so much of a difference that it would make or break a book (though of course I have no data to back this up and might be completely wrong about it). I have never sold or bought an ARC (or even read one to be honest haha), but I think especially with classics and even newer popular books like HP, THG, Twilight, etc. it’s totally fine if collectors want to spend hundreds of books on ARCs. I personally wouldn’t, because rent, but whatever floats your boat.

    • Hahah I agree, newer ARCs are NEVER okay to buy, EVER. Especially unreleased. ESPECIALLY. I feel like those people will burn in hell, right? They should, anyway. But yeah, older books does NOT bother me. I mean, sure, I am jealous of someone who can drop a few grand on an old book, but to each their own! 😀

  13. What an interesting topic!

    You touched on this in your post above, but MHO is that selling an ARC goes from morally unacceptable to plain old memorabilia after the publisher/author is no longer losing money on a possible sale. That $850 Harry Potter ARC is memorabilia because it is a fairly unique — and therefore appropriately priced — item. Anyone who wants to actually read the book is going to just buy a copy or borrow it from a library, so this is not a lost sale.

    Bartering for ARCs is more of a grey area. If the book has recently been released and the reader who’s swapping you another ARC or a tea cozy or something would have otherwise have bought it or borrowed it from a library, then yeah that’s a lost sale and even if it’s morally acceptable (because trade among friends is NBD, right?) it isn’t really supporting the author in any way, is it? If they would have otherwise just pirated an e-book version, then I guess swapping for an ARC is preferable because at least those ARCs were put out in the world by the publisher for marketing purposes.

    • Thank you SO much! And I think you are spot on about when an author is no longer losing a sale- that is exactly my feelings on the matter too!

      That is SUCH a good point about bartering! I hadn’t thought of it that way, but it is really true! Because it IS a lost sale sometimes- MUCH more so than Harry Potter would be! Mind = Blown. I don’t know what to even do with this information, but you are SO right!!

  14. I really liked how you handled this topic and yes – of course it is okay to talk about controversial things! I don’t think it is right at all to sell ARCS. When receiving them it is already made clear they are only for the purpose of marketing and in the end, in my opinion, I would rather have a collection of finished copies rather than ARCs. I also think it’s okay to trade them among fellow bloggers as long as you are swapping ARCs and by doing so it is agreed you will both review the ARC afterwards. That way it is still a marketing tool.

    • Aw thank you so much!! I agree that reviewing the book after swapping is a REALLY good point- because otherwise, it is almost like just taking a book for free. And finished books ARE always prettier 😉 I can understand wanting ALL the copies of an all-time favorite, but anything else? GIve me the shiny new book! 😀

  15. I have to confess that I never even considered trading ARCs as selling them. In fact, just a couple of weeks ago, I traded an old ARC of Nowhere But Here for an ARC of Illuminae, which isn’t out yet. SO I totally broke ALL of your rules. BUT I got the ARC for the express purpose of reviewing it on my blog (I had the digital version, but it’s only 200 pages, which had me scratching my head – I still want to go back and compare and figure out why), so I didn’t really see it as doing anything wrong. When I went to RT, both publishers who I spoke to said they didn’t mind us passing ARCs on once we read them – it gets them more reviews without having to make and send more ARCs so they didn’t mind. Of course, actual selling is a bad thing, but I didn’t see trading as the same. Hmmmm ….

    Oh, and once an ARC is older, it kind of becomes a collectible, whether the publisher wants it to or not (especially for books that become huge like Harry Potter or Hunger Games). I don’t know if I would personally want to sell an ARC for money, but I guess I can’t fault those people who have a copy of Harry Potter and know they can get $850 for it – that would be hard to resist!

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

    • Noooo it doesn’t break my rules! If you SOLD an ARC of Illuminae it would have broken the rules (since it is not released) 😉 You’re good. I agree with you that a lot of authors AND publishers are fine with it- especially within the community.

      I TOTALLY agree with you. I love that you are all throwing in The Hunger Games, as though you know that this is the entire basis for my thinking up this discussion post 😀 You all know me too well! But yeah, I don’t think I could EVER sell one, even if it was a collectible one, but I don’t know that I fault those people either. I mean, if I had a HP ARC, and it was selling for almost $1K and I had a mortgage to pay and kids to feed… yeah, I don’t blame them at that point!

  16. I never really thought about this. I mean, beyond the whole selling ARCs for money being a bad thing. I don’t see trading them for other ARCs as any kind of an issue though. Especially if you’re trading to other bloggers who are going to (or are thinking about) reviewing the ARC themselves. That seems like more free publicity for the book, which is a win for both the publisher and the author.

    I also don’t have an issue with trading ARCs for finished copies of other books, or other collectible memorabilia type stuff. Yeah the finished books and collectible stuff technically have a price. So you could see it as having sold the ARC. However if you twist it that way, you could also say that the -ARC- has a price, that being whatever price the finished copy of that ARC is. I think that as long as no actual money changes hands for the ARC, I wouldn’t consider it as having been sold.

    Then too, if it is someday decided that trading ARCs is bad. What about those of us who give them away? I gave away 4 ARCs last month during my blogiversary, and I’m fairly sure none of the 4 winners were other book bloggers. So would that be as bad as trading them for finished books/other stuff? Fall into the same area as trading ARC for ARC?

    Way too slippery a slope. I think as long as you aren’t taking money for them, and it’s not an ARC that hasn’t been released in print form yet, that trading them is fine. A lot of people who want the ARC are also going to want a finished copy. And those who wouldn’t buy a finished copy after reading the ARC, wouldn’t have bought it without reading the ARC either. So it doesn’t hurt the author or publisher to trade them around.

    • I do agree about the publicity- and from everything I have read, the majority of authors and publishers agree with you too! Especially trading with other bloggers, because they ARE likely going to review it, or at the very least, talk about it on Twitter, Goodreads, etc.

      I think publishers actually encourage you to do giveaways with them. It generates hype for the book, AND gets it into another reader’s hands. But it IS all a slippery slope, because you are right- is that then a “currency” too, since you’re likely at the very least gaining pageviews from the giveaway? Ahhh what a tangled web 😀

  17. What an interesting question. I’ve never thought about whether or not selling ARCs was relevant when the books become collectors or classics. In all honesty, I guess it is okay to sell ARCs at some point later on, but at the same time I feel like you should get clearance from the publisher. I personally wouldn’t want to ever sell an ARC of something like HP, but I know that people sell things for all types of reasons.

    • Thanks!! I do agree, I would NEVER sell such a thing, but I DO understand why someone would. Especially if they’d just stumbled upon it years ago, needed the money, whatever. I mean, I am sure that back before HP was popular, some jerk sold some ARCs at a yard sale or something, right? 😉 (He now cries himself to sleep every night haha)

  18. SO YOU KNOW MY OPINION ON THIS. But yeah, honestly I don’t care that people buy ARCs if it is for having a collection. As long as it hasn’t been released yet. I mean, what’s the use of having an ARC that is sitting around collecting dust in a thrift store? NOTHING. And like you said, authors/publishers don’t really gain much from it anyways.

  19. OMG I died with that Joey gif!
    You make a good point, one I’ve never thought of honestly. Sorry to say that I have idea what an appropriate timeline would be. Maybe once the book is out? I don’t know, that seems to soon still…

  20. To me if it says “Not for sale/resale” or something to that effect ti should not ever be sold. I hate walking into my local used bookstore and seeing them make money off ARCS that clearly state that. They keep offerering to buy mine for for store credit but I am not okay with that. But that is me on a personal level. If others do, it really doesn’t bother me much either as long as the book is published.
    If the book is not published (say Jan 2016 title, etc) it should stay with the person it was originally offered to by Author or publisher. Especially if you requested the book. If it shows up unsolicited it can get gray for what to do with it, especially if you have no interest in reading it.
    Now swaps, trades, giveaways are another story. As long as the book is published then it is free game I think. Unless the publisher or author request otherwise. I personally like to wait at least a month after the release date before doing anything, giving parties that want the book and are willing to pay for it, the chance to do so. I even stated on my blog that Arcs are mine to do with for swaps, trades or giveaways unless otherwise instructed by the sender. While no author/publisher has ever said anything to me, I have heard of them telling others to not giveaway their book, to dispose of it by release day. IF an author ever asked that of me as a condition of the request then I feel bound to honor the agreement. Although I don’t know if I could dispose of a book….too close to blasphemy 🙂

  21. First, this is a great post Shannon, so I had to comment and tell you even though I’m late to the party 🙂

    As a penniless author (my first published novel should be out Summer 2016) AND a bookseller, I HAVE thought about this a lot! All of the new ARCs that we receive in store say “Not for Resale,” so we don’t resell those. However, I HAVE had boxes of books donated (to be sold for minimal money) that contained ARCs that were 10+ years old, and I sold them for a dollar or less. I never look to see if they are rare or not – I figure it’s like finding a treasure 🙂 I love rare books and collectibles, but I can’t afford either – and honestly, I’d rather have an ancient book on vellum or a copy of a Gutenberg Bible than an ARC anyhow!
    I have no problem with passing on ARCs I’ve read and reviewed to other booksellers/readers/bloggers, or anyone who will read the book, love the book, and get the word out about it! That’s what I’d want people to do with my books. I personally will not buy or sell, or even trade ARCs, though I’m happy to give them away. They were given to me as promotional materials, and I have no material “right” to them as such. The main point is to get them into the hands of readers and reviewers, who will hopefully stock/sell/buy the finished book and support the authors. But I obviously can’t afford every book, so (similarly with library books) I like to read books beforehand myself, and I know I’m not alone. As a bookseller, I stock very few hardcovers, and ARCs really help me narrow that down before ordering.

    If a book isn’t published, I think any money changing hands is obviously a no (and quite probably illegal), but most bloggers seem to agree on that one 🙂 However, If a book is already published, and you have a rare ARC, and your car gets smashed/some other crisis strikes, I’d be the last person to say anything, regardless, but I do think it’s important to think about.

  22. I never really thought about selling ARCs let alone selling them for a bazillion dollars but I think I can see the appeal.

    I don’t have any problems with it, really. Memorabilia, I think is very subjective. In that what may be a treasured object to one could be junk to another. So, if you are willing to shell out money for ARCs as memorabilia, then by all means do so. Now, I’m not even sure this constitutes as piracy?

  23. THIS IS SUPER DUPER!! I hadn’t thought about this!! I really don’t get the ARC craze…I completely get wanting a book before it’s released, obviously, but after that I LOVE ME SOME HARDCOVERS ? Is it just me??
    I think the line between ARC and memorabilia depends on he harm it’ll cause. Like you said, selling the Grapes of Wrath or Harry Potter proof? I doubt that’s going to cause much harm to anyone. But selling an ARC from a less popular author would—wouldn’t it? It’s all very subjective. I’VE GOTTA THINK ABOUT THIS!! Ahhh this is my favorite kind of discussions, YOU MAKE ME THINK SO MUCH THANK YOU ❤️❤️

  24. This was such a great post! And you summarised a lot of my thoughts on the topic brilliantly – whilst I do like my ARCs because let’s face it some titles just have me doing *grabby hands* the moment that their titles are released, and I respect that they are primarily used for publicity in their first few months (years??) of existence, surely once the final copy is out for the general public it shouldn’t really matter what people do with their copies. I understand that authors don’t get any revenue from ARCs but then surely, reselling ARCs is pretty much the same concept of borrowing books from libraries? I also think that selling newer ARCs from smaller, less popular authors is worse than selling the examples you put up there – I think that once a book is really popular, the original ARCs and copies have no choice but to be memorabilia, and heck; if you have that kind of money to spend and you’re a huge fan of the title, why not go for it.
    My brain is working on overload right now – such a thought provoking topic of discussion, I love it!

  25. I’m new to #booksfortrade, so I’ve only been reading what the tweets say. I see people requesting new and old ARCs, mostly through the bartering system. Bartering is an economic transaction. It’s interesting that we’ve reached a point in society where a lot of people agree that bartering is somehow less of a moral issue than exchanging money for something. I think bartering does hold weight in this discussion, but I’m of the mindset that it’s less offensive than exchanging money for an ARC. If I were honest with myself, I would love to own an ARC of Harry Potter or of some other books that I can’t think of right now but love. If I could get it for a price that I was willing to pay, I would buy it.

    I saw Emma @ Miss Print’s comment, and she pointed out that some authors have special signings for their ARCs (probably to help with marketing). I found a link in my researching about why one might consider collecting old ARCs, and that article pointed out that the general rule of thumb for collecting old and rare books is “the older, the better.” I see how that applies to ARCs. However, I also remember episodes of Pawn Stars that I watched focused on authenticating authors’ autographs. In the grand scheme of things for collecting old and rare books, do you think it would be more valuable to have a signed first edition or a signed ARC?

    Something else I want to consider about old ARCs is that while I don’t see the point in keeping them passed the release date, I do see a point in doing that if you can’t get your hands on a finished copy through your library or bookstore. If that were the only way you were going to read this book, I think it is okay to read the old ARC while keeping in mind that it isn’t the finished copy.

    To finish this thought, there are two things I’ve been thinking about when it comes to ARCs.
    1) Does it really matter that ARCs were not intended for sale? Is this giving the marketing departments in publishing houses too much respect? Nothing against them, but one person’s trash is another’s treasure.
    2) What’s the difference between an ARC and any other pre-published stages of the writing process? The Harry Potter fandom flips whenever Rowling’s notes about the series are released. People still publish and sell the incomplete works of authors post-humously (e.g., Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen, The Mystery of Edwin Drood by Charles Dickens, and some of these new Dr. Seuss books). Are these really any different? People like to see the writing process.

    I’m rambling here, and I know I’m late to the discussion. Thank you for the food-for-thought.

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