Should You Buy Final Versions of ARCs? {Discussion}

Discussion 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.

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.

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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.

Blogger's Perspective

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.

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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.

What I Think

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?

 

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28 responses to “Should You Buy Final Versions of ARCs? {Discussion}

  1. I’ve thought about this a lot, and I think I agree with you, Miranda. We spend our time reading the book, and then writing the review. We then post that content on our blog, and link it to whatever other accounts we use (Pinterest, Tumblr, Twitter – the list is pretty much endless). And from that, the publisher KNOWS that people see it. As bloggers, we have readers. And these readers read our reviews, and then can base their decision to read or not to read a book based off our reviews. If we LOVE AND ADORE a book, and write a rave review on it – our readers are going to take notice of that. Especially if we cannot stop raving about it. So, like you said, that’s a pretty sweet deal for publishers, in my opinion.

    As for me, I have bought several finished ARCs. But then again, in Australia, ARCs are few and far between. We usually just get pre-release finished versions, and I think that’s a different story. But I have bought a few final copies of e-ARCs and physical ARCs for two different reasons (but they kind of merge into one). 1) I LOVED the book, and want to own it in all its finished glory e.g. ALL THE TRUTH THAT’S IN ME by Julie Berry, and 2) I loved the book AND I want to support the author e.g. IGNITE by Erica Crouch.

    Those two things are *kind of* the same, but different, as well. I bought ATTTIM because I adored the book, and I wanted to not only own an ARC, but a finished version. But with IGNITE, I adored that book SO MUCH but also wanted to support Erica because she’s an indie author. So I guess one’s more for me and my obsessive book buying and one’s for me AND the author (although they both do support the author, because I’m buying their books, so I hope that actually made sense, haha).

    But I definitely don’t think we should HAVE to. Blogging is expensive, both time and money wise. And I think publishers understand this. As long as we’re giving them well thought out reviews, and having people read them – they’re happy. Or at least I hope they are *shifty eyes* 😛

    • Wow haha, you’re right — this IS an essay 😛

      I totally get what you mean about there being those two different reasons why you would buy a finished ARC. There are definitely times where I just NEED the final finished beautiful copy because I loved it so much that an ARC just isn’t good enough (especially if it was an e-ARC!), and then there are some times where I buy a finished copy in order to support an author (but also because I loved it, too!). I’ve bought final versions of ARCs for both of those reasons multiple times.

      I think that the amount of time and money that we spend on blogging is WAY undervalued sometimes. I put hours and hours and hours of work into this blog every single week…and I think that I (and all the other book bloggers!) deserve some ARCs for that! haha. Especially if we’re going to go out of our way to spread the word about it. But honestly I think that I’d still blog regardless…I just love it 🙂 But I definitely don’t think that authors or publishers should ever expect us to shell out extra money to buy a finished copy if we’ve already reviewed the book and “done our job” with it.

  2. I’m like you. Sometimes, if I loved a book that I read via and ARC, I might buy the finished copy. But that’s not a guarantee. I’m a librarian and although I buy a decent amount of books, there are plenty that I get from the library. Even if I didn’t get the ARC, I would have just borrowed the book from the library. These days, I tend to mostly buy books when I go to signings. But I support the authors and the books in so many ways by reviewing them, and also recommending them a lot to people in the library..

    • Oh that’s a good point that, as a librarian, you also help support authors and publishers by recommending their books to patrons as well! I mean, since they’re in the library, the people you’re recommending the books to probably aren’t buying the books haha, but I bet it still leads to them ultimately deciding to purchase books in general…whether it’s because they want their own copy of a book they got from the library and loved, or maybe they loved the author so much that they decide to buy their other books for themselves. Very good point! 🙂

  3. If I had enough money, which I don’t, then I would probably buy finished copies of books I got as an ARC and enjoyed. But the fact is I don’t have a lot of money and I am glad I can sometimes get some free books, because I don’t have money to buy all the amazing books out there.
    Also like you mentioned in exchange for an ARC we do provide some advertisement for the book by writing a review and promoting it on our blog.
    I have to admit that I can’t remember ever buying a finished copy from a book from which i received an ARC. I onyl get e-copy ARC’s, so sometimes it happens the authors also send the final copy, but I’ve never bought the finished copy.

    • Yeah I totally get where you’re coming from…a lot of us book bloggers don’t really have a lot of extra money lying around to spend on books that we’ve already received for free! So I think it’s completely fine that you’ve never bought a finished copy 🙂 The reviews and promotion that we provide for authors and publishers through our blogs I think more than pays for the cost of giving us ARCs…especially e-ARCs!

  4. I don’t think publishers or authors are expecting anyone to buy a finished copy after they receive an ARC. As you point out, the publisher has already decided it’s worth sending out a limited number of free copies for publicity purposes. By giving a free copy to a blogger, they’re hoping that blogger’s review will convince other people to buy the book–not the original blogger.

    As someone with limited disposable income, no, I don’t buy finished books for most ARCs I receive. After all, I already have a copy of the book. But if I really love the book, I may buy copies for friends for birthday gifts and whatnot and support the author that way.

  5. Well I happen to know that some publishers know and don’t expect many reviewers to buy finished copies of the books. There have been many times where the publishers have sent me an ARC as well as sending me the finished copy months later. Quite a bit I receive finished copies of books rather than ARCS (this is mostly adult SFF books though where this happens and I noticed YA pubs send mostly ARCS).

    Unlike your proposed blogger demographic the bulk of the bloggers I follow are actually folks in their 30’s but I think that’s because I follow way fewer YA bloggers. So if you were giving a YA blogger demographic then I would agree with you. But an adult SFF blogger demographic is more folks in their 30’s and beyond in my opinion.

    As for buying finished copies, since I receive many finished copies of books I would actually buy I don’t usually have to. I do however sometimes buy those books for friends or family instead. As for the YA ARCs that I receive. If I loved the book I most definitely buy a finished copy and then I pass the ARC along to another blogger. Do I feel like I have to do this? No, I don’t – and I don’t always do it either (especially since many of the YA ARCs I receive I’m never able to get around to reading (or the ones I got from BEA at least….all the ones I request i do read eventually) but yeah I don’t always buy finished copies because if I didn’t love it at least 5 stars sometimes 4 – then no I won’t buy it. Because I know I won’t read it again. But if I loved it and know I’d read it again then yes I’ll buy it because I prefer final copies over ARCs because I know that things CHANGE by the time they get to the final version. Heck I know of one book that I LOVED that had 5 additional pages in the final version versus the ARC version. So why would I want to miss that if I wanted to read it again.

    I think my essay might just have gone overboard.

    I do think all the things we do as bloggers is a wonderful amount of free publicity and book pushing on behalf of the author. I don’t consider the book as payment for what I do because if so then by golly that is a really lopsided payment because the amount of work I put into my blog, reading, writing and promoting of books is way more time then a $7.99 to $20 book is worth. So if I considered that payment I’d say I was being underpaid, underfed and was about to go to the poorhouse. I do it for the love or it – or the loathing haha. I don’t feel obligated to pimp any books out but the ones I really enjoyed. Everything bloggers do supports authors yes, we don’t owe it to them or the publishers but what we do is a great thing that both parties are able to use to their advantage. Totally symbiotic relationship where we all get a little bit of something =) Ok i’ll stop now….

    • Hahaha….wow. You wrote a lot! Thank you for the well-thought-out comment 🙂

      I really wasn’t trying to say that publishers EXPECT us to buy finished copies of ARCs…that would be ridiculous. I was more just curious about whether or not bloggers actually do — and if they do, how often. I have heard a couple authors state stuff about how bloggers aren’t appreciative or that they don’t spend money on books, though (basically just bullshit, obviously). But I do think that most authors and publishers probably think that it’s fine for us not to buy final versions. I was just trying to give two sides of the issue.

      Oh — just to clarify — when I said “this community,” I meant the YA book blogging community, because that’s what I consider my blog to be a part of. I wasn’t trying to exclude anybody…I just don’t follow or interact with too many bloggers who don’t predominantly blog about YA. I agree that book bloggers who deal with other genres would be classified differently, but I think that my generalization still stands when it comes to YA bloggers.

      I pretty much do what you do when it comes to buying final copies of ARCs…if it’s a 5-star (or maybe a 4-star) read, sometimes I just HAVE to add it to my shelf. Or sometimes I’ll purchase the book for a friend 🙂 But otherwise I’m definitely not going to waste money on a book that I wouldn’t want to re-read.

      I think that I kind of do consider it as payment (although I get why you don’t)…because I’m receiving something in exchange for something else (an honest review). But I don’t really think of it in terms of money, because clearly, as you pointed out, even if I were to be getting multiple books every week, it definitely doesn’t add up with how many hours I spend blogging. But even though I would be blogging regardless of whether or not I was getting free ARCs, it’s sometimes nice to think that I’m getting at least SOMETHING in return for all my hard work haha.

      I think that the symbiotic relationship between book bloggers and publishers is really interesting. There’s not anything else out there quite like it when it comes to advertising. When I find a book that I LOVE, nothing can stop me…I will recommend that book until the cows come home. I’ll put it in random posts, talk about it in discussions, tweet about it, etc. I will work my butt off for that book if it’s good enough. I can’t really think of another market in which consumers do THAT much advertising for a company for such little (if any — sometimes those books I love weren’t even ARCs!) payment.

      Thanks again for your comment 😀

  6. I don’t buy a final copy of an ARC unless I’m totally and completely head over heels with the book. I think the only time that’s happened was with Heir of Fire, and I already knew I was buying that book anyway. I just got impatient and requested it because I could 😉 I actually have a shelf for books that I read as an ARC and eventually want to buy – but some have been there for months. I want to get around to it eventually, but new releases I haven’t read usually take precedence.

    • Lately I’ve been using those 20% off Barnes and Noble coupons to get some books that I read original as either an ARC or a library book that I’ve been meaning to buy, since I can’t use the coupons on preorders :/ But usually my book-buying money is spent on new releases, like you said. Or used books from my local used bookstore or BookOutlet.com.

  7. Okay, so, high school student here. I NEVER buy finished copies of books I read in advanced. I also never buy physical copies of ebooks I enjoyed. Believe me, I want to, to get books on display and to support the publishing community, but as you said, I’m not making any money from this. Plus, I feel guilty since I don’t get allowance, so my parents pay for all my books. I wouldn’t really want them to spend for books I’ve already read… >_<

    Awesome post, Miranda!

    • I think that it’s totally understandable that you never purchase finished copies of ARCs/ebooks! Especially since your parents buy all of the books you read. I totally wouldn’t want to waste that book money on books I’ve already read either!

      Thanks for commenting 😀

  8. I love this post and all the answers. Such an interesting and controversial issue! I don’t buy finished copies of ARC’s personally, I don’t feel the need for it. If I love an arc, I might do a giveaway on my blog and buy a copy via amazon or the book depository for the winner and that’s my show of support for the author. I do think reviews and book buzz are another way we show our support though.

  9. I agree with everything you said. If you can’t afford to go out and buy a final version, or you simply don’t want to, you shouldn’t feel bad about it. And if you do go out and buy a final version, yay for you. That’s great. I only buy finished versions of favorites. The others just aren’t worth it, I think. If I don’t love it, why buy it? Awesome post! 🙂

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  11. I agree that there’s no right or wrong practice when it comes to buying copies of ARCs you have read. I think it’s great to support the authors, but it’s not always necessary to do so for various reasons, including money. The way I look at it, if a blogger with little money didn’t receive the ARC in the first place, they probably wouldn’t buy the book anyway. Sure, they MIGHT get it from the library, but there are so many other books to choose from that it might fall under their radar. And then they wouldn’t promote it and other bloggers and readers wouldn’t see it, and the ones who COULD have bought it might not.

    So no, bloggers shouldn’t feel guilty for not buying books at all 🙂

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  13. I don’t buy finished copies of ARCs. If I love an ARC then I rave about it and tell everyone about how much I adored it.

    But, I’m not going to buy a book that I’ll probably never read again. I very rarely reread books. Does it really make sense for me to buy an ebook just to have it sit in the cloud, unused? And I definitely can’t buy a physical copy because I don’t have the space to store those.

    Sure I’d buy a finished copy if I did decide to reread the book one day, but not under any other circumstances.

    We take the time to read, review, and rave about the books. I don’t think we have obligations other than that!

  14. I’ve only received a handful of ARCs as a book blogger– sometimes from the publisher, but mostly from other generous book bloggers. And honestly, I’ve never felt obligated to purchase a finished copy. Many book bloggers put a lot of time and effort and money into creating their website and establishing themselves as a trusted and known “brand”. Then, they receive books for review, which they spend time reading and more time writing about. Sometimes, this has more weight than that single person spending $13.00 on a book because through word-of-mouth, they just got 10 other readers to spend $13.00 on a book.

  15. I only buy finished copies if I reaaaally reaaallly like the book and cover. But yes, most students are poor ): and it’s tough to buy all the books we want, so I think it’s okay to not get finished copies if you’re happy with your ARC (:
    Great discussion, Miranda!

  16. I rarely reread and in fact donate most of my physical books when I’m done with them, so there’s really no reason for me to go out and buy a book I’ve already read — other than to support the author. I would literally be buying the book in order to donate it to be sold for $1 or, in the case of ebooks, to be sitting out there in the cloud somewhere unread. While I’m not in the student/recent college graduate age range,food on my table and a roof over my head is a higher priority for me than food on authors’ tables and a roof over their heads.

    There’s one author who sends me an ARC of every book she writes, after I got her first from Netgalley. That’s four lost sales for her because I definitely would be buying her books if she didn’t send them. I want to support her, so with the last book (in July), I hosted a giveaway and bought the book to give away myself. She has another one coming out this week and I’ll probably do the same thing. She’s indie so they’re ebooks and don’t cost much, but still I couldn’t do that with every author whose work I get as an ARC.

    (I love goats.)

    • I think that that’s a good point…whether or not you ever re-read books is a huge factor into deciding to buy a final version of an ARC. If you never re-read books, why would you do that? Personally, I re-read books every now and again, so I love to have physical copies of all my favorites. So I definitely wouldn’t buy a final version of an ARC unless it was a 5-star read (or occasionally if I gave it 4 stars).

      I think that’s so awesome what you do for that author who keeps sending you ARCs. That’s such a great way to help support them when you’re going to be buying yourself a copy 🙂 Good for you!

      YAY another goat lover! 🙂

  17. I don’t think that bloggers should feel obligated or MUST buy the finished book of an ARC they received, unless they really enjoyed the book and they really want to. At least I wouldn’t feel obligated to do so, unless the book really blew me away.

    I think there are other ways of supporting the authors, and hoping that other people will be able to pick up their books too. By reviewing and posting about the book, talking about it on Twitter, any little gesture might reach someone who sees the book and goes “Hey, I’m interested. I’ll buy!”

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