The ARC Entitlement is Out of Hand

POSTED ON June 27, 2017 BY Austine IN Discussion

I feel as though there’s always something to comment on in the book community these days. Most recently, it’s been bloggers and book cons. BookExpo, BookCon, and just last weekend, ALA. Between these three events I’ve heard about ARCs put up on eBay during the event (including a personalized one which was like.. really?), bloggers stealing ARCs, and general rudeness.

Sorry, not sorry, but this is going to be a full-on rant because recent events have seriously pissed me off.

Also FOR THE RECORD, the accusations that are flying around social media right now are exactly that. I’m not here to prove them right or wrong, but they’ve sparked a related conversation. I’m not getting into the middle of a fight based on a few people’s comments. Please don’t bother asking me about it. This post isn’t directed at any one person but at something that’s been brewing for a while.

I’d like to add in that I have no doubt that these book cons are a ton of fun and that a lot of people have great experiences. The issue is that these few incidences reflect on bloggers as a whole because, unfortunately, we all get lumped together and for the rest of us, this sucks.

Sadly, all of this just solidifies some of my thoughts about the community. I’d hazard a guess that at least half of the book bloggers in the YA community are adults. Totally fine. Except that a lot of them behave like children. It’s ridiculous and honestly makes me question the motives of some who join in but seem to be only about getting books. This brings in the trade tag too.

Book trading is SUCH an awesome idea because it allows you to get books you might not normally have the chance to. It’s great! But over the last year, maybe even sooner than that, it’s turned into an auction house. It’s not about spreading books around but who will give you the most for one book.

When did ARCs become currency?

These are PROMOTIONAL copies. They’re not as nice as a finished copy. They’re literally meant to promote the book, through reviews, instagram pictures, whatever it may be. Yet here we are as a group and suddenly it’s about what ARCs you have. I’ve witnessed people get books from a publisher and turn around just to trade them. I’ve heard stories of bloggers requesting books just to trade them.

Have we fallen so far?

Our purpose is a marketing tool. Those books the publishers send? They’re not free. There’s an obligation attached, an expectation that the book will receive coverage of some kind. Same goes with books you grab at a conference. They’re not for you to take multiple copies for your friends or giveaways, and especially not to trade off.  Other people paid to attend that event too and you deprive them of the chance to get a copy. Not cool.

Let me ask y’all this: what happens when the shady trading, the selling of ARCs, all of it… what happens when it becomes too much? When bloggers start costing the industry?

Do you think they’re going to keep us around? Publishing was doing just fine without us and I bet they’d be fine without us again. The industry doesn’t need bloggers, and bloggers don’t need the industry. We really don’t. We have book stores and libraries. We still have books. We don’t need ARCs to keep on going. And the industry is, first and foremost, a business. They aren’t going to keep sending to people who have proven themselves to be a bad investment.

Bloggers. Aren’t. Entitled. To. ARCs.

I can’t believe that has to be said. We aren’t. We are LUCKY to be able to work with publishers to promote books. It’s a privilege, not a right. And every time that privilege is abused, it doesn’t just reflect on the individual, but on bloggers as a whole. Unfortunate but true.

Y’all, please understand that these are generalizations. I don’t think everyone in the community has supported this idea. But it’s there, and it affects more than just a few people.

I’m not even sure what could be done to help stop some of the drama ARCs seem to cause beyond not providing any to bloggers anymore. Any sort of system to monitor it all requires people and money, neither, I’m guessing, the industry wants to dish out when they could just stop sending altogether instead.


That’s my little rant/speech. Be grateful we get the opportunities we have and stop taking advantage of the system for your own gain because you’re ruining it for more than just yourself. There’s no reason for the childish behavior and the drama that springs up on the trade tag and during/after book cons. We are a community, and what we do can have effects on everyone else.


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32 responses to “The ARC Entitlement is Out of Hand

  1. as someone who has witnessed the behavior you speak of 1st hand…what I think we’ll see happening in the near future is a move towards all digital ARCS. It’s cheaper & the publisher can set restrictions. It’s unfortunate but I agree, there is a lot of childish behavior over free books. ARC greed is a very real thing as well. It’s supposed to be a trade off, you get the arc in exchange for an honest review but more & more lately I am seeing bloggers acquire arcs by the stack & I don’t see them holding up their end as far as a review or promotion of any kind, sad really.

    • I thought about that too but then the ebook pirating will likely explode. But I think it’d be better than what we’re dealing with right now. I’ve been seeing the same thing, especially from conferences. I remember seeing one haul a person posted with near 100 books from one con and I can’t imagine they’ll have the time to read and review all of those. It’s crazy!

    • I could not agree more. I was laying the other night and thinking about how physical arcs will become scarce if this behavior continues. I am saddened and appalled by the number of individuals I see using social media as an “outing” not sounding platform. Right or wrong, viciously and publicly attacking one another is terrible form. All of this behavior and entitlement is creating a very negative rift in the community 🙁

  2. It’s so stupid that people behave like this. You’re completely right: it’s a privilege, not a right, and I for one am always really grateful for any ARC I get and do my utmost to help out the author as they have been kind enough to provide me with more reading material. People abusing the system like this is a sure way of ruining it for the majority!

    Great post! I like slipping in older books, ones I have just discovered, when writing reviews as well as ARC’s. It’s great to get an advanced copy, but that doesn’t mean the system should be used in this way. Thanks for writing!

    • I’m in full agreement. Every time a book shows up in my mailbox I’m beyond grateful to be considered worth the chance to promote it. I’ve been trying to work in more backlist titles to balance things out for my own enjoyment and it’s been great!

  3. I completely agree. I’ve been receiving ARCs for about a year now and I absolutely LOVE it – and I feel so lucky! I still can’t believe I get books to read for free and then I love writing the reviews in return. I even saw a blogger a while ago complaining because they didn’t get the cover they wanted on an ARC. AN ARC. What?!!! Gahhh!

    • WOW. Just…wow. I don’t really know what to say about that because it’s absolutely ridiculous. In any format, you’re still getting to read the book early. The cover shouldn’t matter. That’s ridiculous.

  4. I’m also struggling with this; I’ve been blogging on and off for five years and I have never seen anything like this. It’s ridiculous. I went to ALA with my husband, me with “Blogger” on my badge and he with “English teacher” on his. First, we both agreed that only in very specific circumstances would we even take two copies of a book, even with both of us having paid to register. Because we wanted to make sure that librarians and educators had a chance to get the ARCs they want/need. Then, I see people grabbing 3-4 copies and a blogger saying on Twitter, “let’s be real, we all grab extras for giveaways and friends.” Um. No. We ALL don’t. Some of us are respectful of what we’re being offered and try to make sure other people who have paid to attend the conference have the same chance we have to get something.

    Even at the event, there was a group of, admittedly youngish looking, bloggers grabbing everything. They were waiting in a line and asked their friends to hold their spot while they got ALL the books while everyone else was waiting in line. 45 minutes into the conference, these five bloggers had at least 40 books each and were talking about how they’d have to drop them off in the car to get more. Aside from the fact that it’s ridiculous that they’d be able to read ALL that they grabbed, they were pissing people off in line because they weren’t actually WAITING in line. I wanted to hide my badge after that and huddled behind my husband for the rest of the conference when we spoke to publishers. He was treated way better by publishers than I was, and honestly, I don’t blame them. I’ve never seen teachers or librarians act the way bloggers do at conferences; it’s embarrassing.

    And while the behavior is somewhat more acceptable from young people, they’re attending a professional event. They need to step it up and act like the professionals they’re supposed to be.

    • This comment. Thank you for sharing. Truly. This really hit home the point, I think. I can’t imagine what it was like to be there as a blogger and seeing others with the same label behave in such a way. There’s no good reason for that and I’m so sorry you had to deal with it. 🙁

      • I’m sorry any of us have to deal with it. Thank you so much for writing your post, because it’s good to know that I’m not alone in my frustration over people acting like this. Hopefully a better vetting system gets put in place for conferences, and if not, I won’t blame them for banning bloggers altogether.

        • I may be in the minority because I haven’t had the opportunity to attend a conference but I honestly don’t think that bloggers SHOULD be attending certain book cons. Like ALA isn’t really for bloggers. Neither is BookExpo. BookCon I can see. But I kind of feel like it wouldn’t be so bad if we, as bloggers, weren’t allowed at certain ones that aren’t really meant for us anyway.

  5. I’m not someone who bothers much about ARCs as I like reading finished books, but I’m in the minority! In the last 4 years I’ve received 8 but all were read and reviewed within a week and my Netgalley rating was 100%. I get a bit baffled when I see bloggers talk about requesting multiple ARCs every week, having a review backlog pile of 60 or more to get to before deadlines are up and hearing them panic about not getting to read each one. Frankly I think that defeats the whole purpose if you get too many to cope with! As for the trading and multiple grabbing, I find that really shocking. Great post!

    chucklesthescot recently posted: Top Ten Tuesday
    • As someone who does request here and there, I know I usually put all my requests in at once for a certain time period then let it go so on its own, that’s not bad, but every week is crazy. I don’t know how they keep up with it.

  6. I’m a blogger who attended ALA this year and I truly think it’s a case of a few bad apples. Unfortunately, there’s always going to be people who don’t reflect well on the community but I do think that most of us are grateful for the opportunity to receive ARCs and be a part of this community! I’ve been to quite a few conferences in the last few years and I’ve witnessed people behaving badly (not always bloggers) but I do think that while ARCs today seem to very highly sought after, people still understand that there is an expectation to read and review the book. I do agree that booksfortrade has started to become a bit much (with some people almost auctioning off their arcs) but I truly don’t think that’s a fair representation of most bloggers.

    Also, while publishers don’t need us, the blogging world does often help build anticipation for a book and sometimes subsequently help sales! ARCs help build anticipation for the book before it even releases. I’m definitely not saying bloggers are the most important factor in a books marketing campaign but I do still think they play an important role that shouldn’t be discounted, especially through blog tours and other such things. I know I relied on others blogs before I started blogging (and still sometimes do) in terms of choosing which books to buy.

    Thanks for the post!

    • Oh it’s absolutely the case of a few people! The majority of people in this community are absolutely lovely and this wasn’t about them, but how those few can affect everyone else.

      I do agree that bloggers help build hype, especially as we’ve become a bigger presence in the book world. My point was just that, from my experience when I first started out, bloggers weren’t that big a deal and books still came out. And while we do help, it’s a business so if we’re seen as a bad investment they may find another outlet to boost hype!

      Appreciate your input!!

  7. Ana

    This was such a breath of fresh air! I’m fairly new to book blogging, but I’ve followed the community for a while. I’ve always noticed this especially in book trading communities. It almost deters others from trying to trade because if you don’t have bound manuscripts or the newest, most desired ARC or ARCs from the most popular authors you’re going to get maneuvered out by someone who does, or someone who has multiple copies of a single ARC they traded off for. It’s such a thorn when it comes to building community and sharing our love of reading vs a desire to have the most, be the most, follow the hype as close as you can, etc.

    • It’s unfortunately true. I’ve seen some purposely hold out to see if they get better offers and it makes me question if they really want the books they’re asking for. Like someone can offer something from their wishlist and they turn it down. It’s a shame when the trading COULD be something great.

  8. I too have noticed this lately. This actually makes me happy that I’ve never attended any of the big conferences or fests. Things like this just make the entire community look bad, and it’s not fair to people who don’t participate in this behavior because like you said, we all get lumped together. It’s also a shame that some adults in the community don’t act like adults, they act like entitled brats. I feel like it’s always something in the community and there has been too much negativity instead of positivity. There are a lot of things that I just don’t bother with such as BooksForTrade because I don’t have the patience for it and I don’t need or want the drama that comes with it. Great discussion post as always!

    • There’s definitely been a lot of negativity. I’ve seen many bloggers I used to talk to pull away because of all the things going on. It’s a shame 🙁

  9. I could not agree more! It really saddens me to see ARCs being sold on eBay when they could have gone to readers who would have actually enjoyed them! There are other ways to make money but selling ARCs is a huge NO-NO and it’s so disappointing to see people in the community do this! Thanks for your honest thoughts Austine! <3

    • Oh the selling deal makes me SO mad for that very reason. Like, that book could have gone to someone who would not only read it but also used it for its actual purpose of promotion. UGHHH

  10. It’s all quite disgusting. I never just request to request because it costs the publishers so much to ship them! It is a privilege and not right. I feel most people are frustrated by all this and I wouldn’t blame ALA or any other professional conference from banning bloggers or putting high restrictions. I wasn’t surprised to see a similar thing happen to BEA. It is a professional conference, not Black Friday. Thanks for this awesome post <3

    • I wouldn’t blame them either. I think conferences are great for bloggers to get more involved and have that opportunity to promote books but when that chance is being abused, it ruins it for everyone. :/ It’s a shame.

  11. I’ve noticed a lot of this around as well, and I gotta say that it pisses me off as well. You pointed out a lot of the issues: because what happens when publishers decide that bloggers as a whole are more trouble than we’re worth? What happens when the handful of unprofessional, entitled jerks ruin it for the rest of us?

    Something else that annoys me: the ARC-related bragging. Not all of us can even get physical ARCs. Not all of us can afford to go to BookCon and all those amazing events. It’s a privilege. So by blasting all over social media about how many ARCs they got, these bloggers (often adults) are alienating other folks (frequently teens) who can’t make it to the events or aren’t “popular enough” to get physical ARCs at all.

    christine @ the story salve recently posted: Diversity Spotlight Thursday | Asexual Main Characters
    • I agree. I think there’s a different between ARC-bragging and thanking publishers, though, that is a fine line to walk. It’s a nice thing to thank a publisher for considering you to review a book so I don’t see a problem posting that sort of thing but when you’re posting the 50-100 books you grabbed at a book conference, I think that gets into that bragging territory that’s unnecessary and alienates other people, as you pointed out.

  12. As someone who’s relatively new to book blogging and hasn’t yet thought about requesting ARCS, the behavior surrounding them saddens and baffles me. I feel like there’s a lot of ARC-related bragging that goes on and a lot of pressure to receive physical copies. Thanks so much for this discussion.

    I’m new to blogging and book reviewing, and I was wondering if you had any tips for newbie bloggers and book reviewers.

    If you have the time, please check out my blog @breenysbooks. I’d love any feedback. Have a wonderful day.

    • Yes, there’s definitely some negativity surrounding ARCs and it’s pretty disappointing. 🙁

      I can offer tips if there’s a specific topic you’re interested in? Lol I don’t know if I have any “general” advice other than BE YOU.

  13. More and more reason for publishers to switch to eArcs. They can be used more pointedly for marketing, and pose less risk for that cutthroat behavior. Plus, they’re cheaper to produce and kinder on the environment. (also, as an aside- I love your new blog layout and look!)

    • Yes, LOVE eARCs! I’ve had issues with them in the past because my eReader gave me migraines but switched to a new one that’s caused zero issues so back to eBook binging lol.

      And thank you! Glad you like it!