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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

ARC Abuse?

Yesterday I received some ARCS from a lovely librarian friend of mine (she had attended a children’s publishing preview). I had JUST opened the package and placed the books down on the reference desk when a library kid I know to be a voracious reader came over, picked up the top book on the pile, and said “I REALLY want to read this! Can I?”

I hadn’t even had time to glance at the title, let alone read the entire book myself, but how could I say no to that sort of earnest enthusiasm? I told her “Sure!” She got really excited and bounded away, book in hand. About an hour later, I saw her sitting at one of the tables - she was already halfway finished with the book. “This is REALLY interesting,” she said as I passed by.

She promised she would return the book to me as soon as she’s finished, (although I wouldn’t be surprised if she doesn’t - she is a kid, after all). Now, I’ve read some blog posts by some authors who are not happy with their ARCS being read by kids before the books are actually published. I can understand their perspective, but as a librarian, it would have been really difficult for me to tell her she COULDN’T read that book just because it might not exactly match what the finished product will be. (I mean, let’s be realistic, what 10-year-old cares about that sort of thing?)

So, did I screw up? Should I have told her it’s not “ready” to read yet? I don’t want to offend any authors or compromise the integrity of their work, but I feel like my first responsibility is to kids and literacy. At that specific moment, I felt like the right thing to do was to let her read the book. (In case you couldn’t already tell, she was REALLY excited.) How do we balance all of this?

13 comments:

  1. I would have done exactly as you did. Don't know if that's ARC abuse or getting someone excited about a book or what.

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  2. I think you did the right thing. As a bonus, given that the whole point of an ARC is to generate enthusiasm for a book via both reviews and word of mouth, I'd bet that this young patron will tell all her friends about the book.

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    1. Thanks for your perspective! That's my thought too.

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    2. two things:
      I totally agree with this. ARC's are super (ask Baen Books) and if I get the chance to read one I generally by the published version as well.

      Mr. Lubar, are you coming to Worldcon in Chicago? I read Hidden Talents because it was a giveaway at a con and I am very impressed with your work

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  3. I think it's fine. You can always say - 'Hey, you know, that book is going to be published, and it might be different than this - it might be BETTER!' YAY! I'd play up that angle.

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  4. I think it's ARC abuse to hoard them for personal use when you have the opportunity to give them out to the readers and intended audience. I would never say no to a teen asking for an ARC just sitting around waiting to be read.

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  5. Yeah, the whole point of an ARC is to get readers excited about the book and/or give the author exposure - if it's ready to be promoted in ARC format, it should be ready to be widely read, no matter if it gets changed before publication.

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  6. We actually use them to teach students about the process of publishing, how books will be changed, and we challenge them to find mistakes. Its a game to them at this point. They know that they are ARCs and its a chance to read new material. I say any chance to garner excitement for reading is worth it. We are given pre-published material all the time in our field, it would be a shame not too share. Especially with our budgets.

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  7. I'm really relieved that Mr. Lubar is okay with giving the books to kids before they are published (he's my son's very favorite author!)-- I missed those blog posts and felt really bad for a minute. To me, the best part of getting ARCs is sharing them with students before the books come out. I tell them about the possibility of changes, but they do get super excited, and often go out and buy the book anyway, after telling all of their friends!

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  8. I am thinking "Kid who wants to read" and "available book". It would have been abuse to NOT let her read it.

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  9. I am thinking "Kid who wants to read" and "available book". It would have been abuse to NOT let her read it.

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  10. Aw, that is enough to warm the cockles of one's heart. I wouldn't have been able to say no, either. :)

    When I was an itty-bitty, my mom got me an ARC--I have no idea from where. I didn't understand what ARCs were and it wasn't an author I knew, but I kept that ARC for years because it reminded me that there was more to a book than just what you pick up and read--there was a whole mysterious process to publishing and writing. Kids are pretty forgiving readers, so why not let them get a peek at what goes into a book?

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  11. I would have done the same thing!

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