Today I want to talk about whether or not you should buy final versions of books that you originally received as ARCs. I see this as a very multi-layered issue, and I don’t think there’s really a “right” or “wrong” practice, but I want to express my opinion on this issue.
In this post, I’m going to look at it coming from two different angles: from the blogger’s perspective and from the author’s perspective.
Authors want people to buy their books. Period. So I bet that they would honestly love if every single blogger who read their book as an ARC also went out and bought themselves a finished hardcover copy.
I’m sure that most authors write books for a myriad of reasons other than making money, but clearly dreams and words alone can’t support a person, so I’m also sure that they probably, more than anything, want as many people as possible to buy their books.
And there’s also the argument that these authors deserve the money they make from those book sales. And of course they do! Authors are on the whole extremely underpaid for the magic that they are able to create.
But I do think that it’s important to distinguish the difference between going out of your way to support an author like J.K. Rowling and choosing to help support an indie or lesser-known author. In general, no author deserves more or less support from their readers, but there is a varying degree of how far your support will go when you’re buying the books of one author vs. another.
But there’s so much more to the story than simply making the choice to support authors. I bet that each and every person reading this post is in favor of supporting authors! Especially lesser-known ones. We want more books!
But, truly, there’s really only so much one blogger can do. I’m going to generalize here and claim that most bloggers (at least the ones in this community) are either high school students, college students, or recent college grads. And, hey, you know who has the least amount of money in our society?? Us. So while I think that we all would absolutely love to fill our bookshelves with tons and tons of books that would help support authors, that is only a reality for very few of us.
I also think it’s important to take into account what us bloggers are doing for authors that is still support, but not buying books.
For instance, most of us bloggers here aren’t making a penny (or are maybe making a very small amount of pennies). We probably even spend more pennies than we are making (hosting and domain names cost money!!). So, personally, I don’t think it’s too much to ask that we get some free books out of the deal! Especially since, (usually) in exchange for those free books, we’re providing a valuable service — a book review. And those book reviews help generate advertisement for the publisher.
Yes, ARCs are expensive to manufacture, but it actually ends up being a really decent advertisement deal for publishers. Instead of spending thousands of dollars on something like a magazine ad that people will flip over without a second thought, they’re spending the money on basically “hiring” us as little advertising agents who go out there and push these books like nobody’s business. I mean, I can’t even count how many times I’ve been convinced to read (and even buy!) books because of other blogger’s recommendations.
So even if we don’t end up purchasing final versions of ARCs that we receive, a lot of the time we’re really helping to support the author and publisher anyway! Maybe even more than we would’ve if we’d just bought the book and done nothing else.
So, personally, my opinion is that buying finished copies of ARCs is unnecessary. Bloggers shouldn’t feel guilty for not spending the money on a book that they already have another version of.
But, at the same time, that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t buy a copy if we can, or if we want to! There’s definitely been a few times when I loved the ARC so much that I just needed to buy a final version to have in my library! And that’s awesome. But, at least for me, that’s sort of a special occasion kind of thing…and that’s okay!
What’s your opinion? Should bloggers buy final versions of ARCs? How often do you choose to buy one? Do you think that a book review + other support (like through Twitter, chats with friends, and featuring it in other posts) is the same, or even more support, than just buying a book?