PDA

View Full Version : The selling of advance review copies...yea or nay?



Greg Wilson
03-13-2009, 02:29 AM
Hi all,

I wondered what some of the fine people at AW would think about this subject, so I'm linking this post here (http://www.gregoryawilson.com/author/blog/entry/63/). Briefly, the question is whether or not an ARC of my book should or shouldn't be sold--details can be found in the linked entry (http://www.gregoryawilson.com/author/blog/entry/63/). I'm torn myself, so I wondered what other writers' opinions on the subject were.

Greg

Susan Gable
03-13-2009, 02:49 AM
No. Most ARCs say expressly on their covers that they are NOT for sale. I think they should follow that. If publishers really felt that the selling of ARCs was a good thing, and would help "spread the word" about a book, then why do they bother printing NOT FOR SALE on the cover?

I think it's BS. Someone thinks they've found this wonderful way to make some money for themselves. I mean, can you begin to imagine what an ARC of one of the Harry Potter books would have been worth? I daresay had someone done that, they would have found themselves in some serious trouble with the publisher.

Susan G.

maestrowork
03-13-2009, 03:14 AM
I say no. But it doesn't stop some people from selling their ARCs, which I think is tacky. I know for a fact that one of my ARCs (to a book reviewer) was later sold as a used book.

benbradley
03-13-2009, 03:32 AM
You're not the first AW author to notice his ARC available for sale before the book is available for sale. It happened with "Obedience" before it came out about a year ago (Will Lavender posted about it back then but I can't find the thread offhand - looks like he hasn't been active, either here on on the blog on his site, in many months, hope he's doing okay). It seems to be a common occurrence.

I think it might well be illegal to sell BEFORE the book is released. I agree with Susan, ask your publisher what they think, though they may not be too bothered by it as they may have bigger fish to fry.

After the book is published there's the "First Sale Doctrine," a legal ruling that (as best as I recall, perhaps you should look it up) since the text is already for sale, ARCs and uncorrected proofs can then be legally sold, regardless of any "not for sale" stamp on it.

Many online venues such as Amazon do not allow ARCs at all to be sold by used booksellers, even if the book is decades old, apparently because it's easier for them to disallow them all. And from what I recall of the news stories at the time, Amazon may have been responding to pressures from publishers who were complaining about losing new-book sales to ARCs offered for sale online.

You can complain to eBay, but to be effective you have to go through whatever process it is (I forget the name of it now, they might have changed it anyway) to register as an IP/Copyright holder, then all you have to do is send a complaint about an item for sale, and they'll take it down (from what I saw a few years ago they don't even double-check the validity of your complaint once you're registered with them).

ETA: I just looked, it's call VeRO for Verified Rights Owners. If you have your publisher sign up here, I'm pretty sure they could have this auction brought down (whether it's actually illegal or not):
http://pages.ebay.com/help/community/vero-aboutme.html

NeuroFizz
03-13-2009, 03:55 AM
Even if it scrapes by the legal test, it is unethical. That should be enough right there. ARCs are supplied by the publishers to reviewers for the sole purpose of advanced reviews. Too many people these days use the legal measure and totally ignore the ethical side of things.

CheshireCat
03-13-2009, 04:22 AM
I hate it and believe it unethical, whether or not it's illegal.

I have in the past manged to get ARCs for sale on various sites pulled, at least until the book itself went on sale.

That said, it's almost impossible to police all the used book sites and venues; you can spend all your time trying to track the ARCs and make yourself crazy in the process.

I get that ARCs can become collector's items, but when they're offered for sale by unscrupulous reviewers or booksellers before the book is published, that's just plain greed.

Cyia
03-13-2009, 07:51 AM
Contact Google, point out the "Not for Sale" tag on the photo displayed on the site, and let them know that pre-selling a copy of a book not yet available to the public could impact your sales. (It doesn't matter if it's likely or not, professional courtesy is the point)

popbunny
03-13-2009, 08:19 AM
I used to review chick lit for a major daily. I would have lost the gig had I been caught selling ARCs, whether online or to used bookstores. We couldn't even quote from them, as they were prone to last minute changes.

Medievalist
03-13-2009, 08:23 AM
I don't sell them, but I do donate a fair number of the SF and Fantasy ARC/uncorrected proofs/galleys I've been sent for reviews to the UC Riverside Library SF Special Collection. They're not as big a deal as they were a hundred years ago, but who am I to decide what future scholars might want to study?

benbradley
03-13-2009, 09:05 AM
I just got an idea, if you can change your website really quick. The ebay seller lists your website:
http://www.gregoryawilson.com/

You should (temporarlly) copy the content here:
http://www.gregoryawilson.com/author/blog/entry/63/
and put it on the main page, or at least have the main page forward to that blog entry so bidders can at least see your site of the issue when they click on the URL in the auction. Oh, I presume the other book is an ARC of a yet-to-be-released book? Even if it's already released, send the other author a note to your blog entry, and maybe even this thread. Others involved should know what's happening.

Greg Wilson
03-13-2009, 10:00 AM
I just got an idea, if you can change your website really quick. The ebay seller lists your website:
http://www.gregoryawilson.com/

You should (temporarlly) copy the content here:
http://www.gregoryawilson.com/author/blog/entry/63/
and put it on the main page, or at least have the main page forward to that blog entry so bidders can at least see your site of the issue when they click on the URL in the auction. Oh, I presume the other book is an ARC of a yet-to-be-released book? Even if it's already released, send the other author a note to your blog entry, and maybe even this thread. Others involved should know what's happening.

Heh--this is an interesting idea, but as quick as my web guy is, I don't think he'll be able to adjust the site redirects that fast (the auction ends in the next day or so). One of the things holding me back from dropping the hammer (if I could even do so) is that the seller has been very up front with me--it's clear to me that he/she doesn't believe he/she's in the wrong, but will pull the auction if I so choose. So far reaction on my site seems to be running towards the "let him/her donate the money to charity" side, and I think I'm leaning towards that myself...particularly since I will make it clear to the person in question that I am still basically against this practice and don't want it repeated with books of mine in the future. Moreover, the seller got it from the person who (obviously) chose not to review the book, which changes the equation a little bit. In the meantime, if it builds interest in my work, then that may itself be a positive. But I do want to make clear that the issue is an ethical, not necessarily a legal one...and the author and publisher's intent (NOT FOR SALE written in huge letters on the book's front cover) is more than obvious, it seems to me.

In any case I haven't completely made my mind up yet, and the responses from all of you (and on my site) thus far have been very helpful.

Greg

Claudia Gray
03-14-2009, 07:31 AM
In all honesty, there's very little to be done about this. You might succeed in pulling down one sale here or there -- but how many ARCs are realistically going to show up on the market? Not enough to significantly impact your sales, in most cases, and as Cheshire said, policing it is both crazymaking and not the best use of your time, particularly while you have a book preparing to launch. I'd take it as a sign of high interest and move on.

Bartholomew
03-14-2009, 07:44 PM
I've always considered the sale of ARCs to be one of a critic's perks. No harm, no foul, ymmv. The free copy the critic got to sell is only a slightly worse investment than a sale to the public library, money-wise.

Greg Wilson
03-15-2009, 08:07 AM
I've always considered the sale of ARCs to be one of a critic's perks. No harm, no foul, ymmv. The free copy the critic got to sell is only a slightly worse investment than a sale to the public library, money-wise.

It shouldn't be a perk (and certainly isn't considered so by publishers, including mine)...the perk is the critic is getting to read a book, for free, that others will have to pay to read. But it's not really the money which concerns me--it's the ethical issue, which strikes me as problematic (especially since the book isn't even out yet). That said, the general consensus from readers and authors seems to be to let the auction go on but have the proceeds donated to charity, and I think that's what I'll end up doing. I'll let you all know if this whole event ends up building any buzz for the book down the road... :)

Thanks again for all the feedback...I really appreciate it.

Greg

benbradley
03-15-2009, 09:24 AM
It shouldn't be a perk (and certainly isn't considered so by publishers, including mine)...the perk is the critic is getting to read a book, for free, that others will have to pay to read.
Hmm. I always thought the perk was the critic/review gets to read a book before the public can read it, with the publisher and author hoping for a positive review published around the time of the book publication, thus increasing sales in the first few weeks of publication.

Greg Wilson
03-15-2009, 09:37 AM
Hmm. I always thought the perk was the critic/review gets to read a book before the public can read it, with the publisher and author hoping for a positive review published around the time of the book publication, thus increasing sales in the first few weeks of publication.

Absolutely--isn't that what I said? :)

Greg