(A post about my experience at Book Expo America and BookCon will come soon, I am so infuriated by what has happened with some of the ARC giveaways that I must first write this post.)
As I was traveling home from Chicago yesterday, I had ample time to putz around on Twitter in the TSA line. It turns out that the autograph lines at BEA and BookCon are simply dress rehearsal for the security queue when trying to leave O’Hare. Through browsing the #BEA16 tag on Twitter it came to my attention that fellow attendees and authors were discussing the fact that many of the Advance Reader Copies (ARCs) that were given away at BEA and BookCon were already showing up on eBay. I understand that many people do not understand the purpose of ARCs but I expect that if you paid money or traveled to Chicago to either convention you have somewhat of an idea. Especially if you attended BEA as you must be an industry professional (librarian, bookseller, blogger, reviewer, etc) to obtain a badge. For my readers unfamiliar with ARCs, they are given out for free, usually prior to the final editing process. They are clearly labeled on their covers that they are incomplete and that they are not for sale. The purpose of ARC giveaways is to create buzz for upcoming titles. Libraries and bookstores know what they want to order. Bloggers and reviewers talk the books up so people are excited to purchase after the publishing date.
Liesel Meminger wasn’t stealing books to sell to bored Hitler Youth. Being a book thief in the context of selling ARCs on eBay is low. The money you are taking is stolen from the author, editor and publisher. The people who knowingly purchase ARCs are also thieves. They should purchase their books in ways which the team of people involved in creating a book are paid. We have a huge problem in our society in which artists of all kinds aren’t valued for the work they do. Artists are regularly expected to do things for free or for exposure. Isn’t exposure something you can die from? ARCs aren’t free because the author was convinced to work for free, they are free because they are part of a marketing budget.
I will allow some authors speak for themselves here:
I am currently compiling a list of eBay sellers who I find are illegally selling ARCs. The biggest issue here is that eBay requires the owner of the intellectual property to make the report on the listing. If you want this list, get in touch. The problem I fear if I put the list here is that someone will use it to browse what is for sale and bid. This morning, I have been trying to contact some of the authors who might not yet be aware that their advance copies are up for auction.
If you have any thoughts, opinions or advice on what we can do to help authors please comment. My heart is hurting and I will do all I can to fight for honesty in the book community. I have also created the #ARCthief tag on Twitter if anyone wants to chat there.