ARC Entitlement | A Discourse

So I just read this article by Publisher’s Weekly that did a short review of BookCon.  In it there were a couple of interviews with attendees who felt displeased with the lack of free stuff – both ARCs and swag – available for them to get from publishers.  And all I could think was, really?  That’s what’s important to you?  Getting as many free books and stuff as possible?

While I was there I noticed it too, seeing people talking with their friends and family members about what ARCs they wanted to try to get.  Some didn’t even seem to care what ARCs they got as long as they got as many as they could.  It wasn’t many people who spoke like this, just one or two in lines here and there.

I think what these people don’t realize is that no one is entitled to an ARC.  These whiny voices being interviewed in the article most likely represent a very small percentage of the mindset of attendees, but it still makes me want to remind people that you are not entitled to ARCs.  They are free proofs meant for marketing and publicity.  They are given out with the idea that they will be used to help promote the book in its final publication.  And I know, I know, that most bookbloggers and other people related to this industry understand that and are just happy to get anything.  Of course we still covet certain books, but if you can’t get an ARC of it?  Oh well, mark the publication date on your calendar and just wait.  Besides, it’s an uncorrected proof – who knows how things might change between now and then?

I also think that what these types of attendees don’t realize is that publishers seem to be less keen about giving out ARCs at BookCon in general due to the horrific trend of people selling them on ebay for ridiculous amounts of money.  ARCS ARE NOT FOR SALE.  I have been to BookCon the last 3 years and in that time I have seen the number of ARCs being given out at BookCon drop significantly and with much less of a “chance” of actually getting a specific one (the publishers would set up games of chance where it was literally the luck of the draw).  At BookExpo the attending audience is much more curated – it’s mostly for librarians and booksellers, vetted professionals in the industry, who will actually read the ARC and use it to generate publicity and sales by either bringing it into their local library system or requesting it for their bookstore.  Therefore, the publishers don’t have to worry as much about attendees trying to profit off of the hard work of the authors and publishers, who get literally NOTHING from the distribution of ARCs.

I know in my first two years at BookCon I was one of those people who wanted ARCs.  But mostly specific ARCs.  I didn’t want any and all, just specific ones that I know I wanted to read.  But even then it was a huge list.  Last year I was bitter about not even getting a chance at one I really wanted.  This year I got a chance at one I wanted, but I didn’t get it so I told myself “oh well, guess that’s that.”  Maybe I’m a little biased since I have access to Edelweiss and can get a lot from there (I love physical books though so sometimes, if it’s one I absolutely love, yes I will still covet the physical ARC as well as the final copy), or maybe I’m just finally becoming a well-adjusted adult who knows when to let things go.  But sometimes I look at people acting so crazy about these ARCs and free books (having to call security over should never have to be a thing!) and just want to remind people that the book will come out eventually and that libraries exist to help provide them for those who can’t afford them at full price right away.

I guess what I’m saying is, I’m glad I decided to focus more on meeting authors and less on “getting” things because I don’t want to see myself as one of those people who thinks they’re entitled to ARCs or is petty towards publishers for not providing more free swag (most of which I probably throw out or never use anyway).  And yeah some of those authors I met had ARCs coming out, but I also wanted to remember the experience of getting to meet them as well to really make that wait in line (2 hours!!) count.

tl;dr: Certain people in this interview sound like they think that they are entitled to more free ARCs and swag from publishers at BookCon than they actually are, and I’m embarassed of my past self for feeling like this at times and also glad of the changes I’ve made to overcome that flaw.

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