I’m not sure if my book collecting tendencies are related to my career as a librarian or if there’s some deeper, more disturbing, reason behind my need to own so many titles. Whatever the cause or reason, my need to own/read ALL THE THINGS is never more apparent than when I am offered a book pre-publication. These ARCs (Advance Reader Copies) are given – for free – to librarians, bloggers, book sellers, etc. to generate interest in the books. Their hope is that these book sellers will purchase and push copies to their customers, that bloggers will review and rave about the books to their readers, and that librarians will put the books on their shelves.
Publishers and authors who make their titles available early to garner this advance praise and publicity have a few options. They can print copies of an almost-final draft and send them out or give them away at conferences, or they can create digital versions of and make them available online through a couple of websites. Needless to say, these ARCs may not be sold or otherwise distributed for profit, nor should they be cataloged and put on library shelves as they still have final edits that need to be done (and sometimes text is added or removed before publication).
On the websites I can browse through titles, subjects, reading levels and authors and request ARCs that sound interesting. The publisher, and the site, expects me to leave feedback on the title once I’ve read it, and usually asks me to provide the link to whichever site I’ve posted my full review – preferably around the time of publication.
So while digital ARCs are technically free, there is an expectation attached – and a deadline.
Print ARCs are given away at conferences, such as the Public Library Association’s conference which I attended this month. There’s less expectation of a published review, but there’s still an unspoken agreement that we’ll read and promote the books we’re taking before or right around publication.
Major and minor publishers have tables and tables of ARCs, author signings, and information on upcoming titles laid out in the exhibitor’s room – all for librarians. Opening night is usually a feeding frenzy of grabby hands and vendors giving away tote bags to as many librarians as the publishers are.
And this is where my aforementioned book collecting problem comes in.
Also, I seem to be behind on my reading.
This is not a good combination of factors.
While I made a concerted effort to limit my grabby hands at the conference, and I’m trying VERY hard to control myself on NetGalley and Edelweiss, I still have a LOT of deadlined reading ahead of me.
Basically, expect a LOT of book reviews from me in the future.
Please Note: While ARCs are a huge librarian perk, this haul is only one aspect of professional conferences. Attendees choose from many educational sessions to expand our knowledge and our service to our communities.