What was it Agatha Christie said, the best time to plan a new book was while doing the dishes? well it seems to work for blogs as well.
One of the viral conversations bouncing from biblioblog to biblioblog, is about Advanced Review Copies, everyone wants to pitch their 2 cents. If you are on the Bookfinder Insider Mailing list you already have an inbox filled with tuppences. For more in depth reading Scott Brown’s pennies can be picked up here and .
In a nutshell, publishers have been sending out review copies since the beginning of time. Freelance and salaried reviewers read and review the books, try to get some reviews published and then have been free to keep, sell, burn, eat or otherwise dispose of the books. Because booksales are down all over the map, publishers are pinning the blame this profound drop in sales on the tiny percentage of advanced review copies, bound galleys, proofs and other prepublication copies that have found their way into the used book market. This in a word is ‘bullshit.’
Fascist muscle flexing by big business is occurring all over the internet, without any actual legal basis, multi-billion dollar corporations are sending cease and desists letters to intermediaries such as AMAZON and ABE and they in turn are bending over and grabbing their ankles. They are doing the devil’s work and yanking perfectly valid book listings off the databases, and intimidating small time booksellers because they are too greedy to say fuck off. Once a book has been sent to you unsolicited it’s yours, you can sell it, or eat it or paint it puce and wear it as a hat – US LAW clearly says so [this is true as of 9:30pm EST, I will check again tomorrow.] Publishers like Random House are hoping you don’t know this.
Newsflash: booksales are down because most books suck. Even ignoring the great philosopher Sturgeon’s Law that “Ninety percent of everything is crap” – modern publishing is producing more books then ever, therefore they are producing more crap then ever. Even though it is now easier for everyone and their Aunt Helen to write a book and get it published, no one is taking into account whether it SHOULD be published, and the market is flooded. The market is so pumped full that right out of the box a book can be sold for 50% off the cover price in great honking warehouses. [why are books the only thing with prices printed on them?] and don’t get me started on the secondary market, as soon as a book leaves the TRADE food chain its value drops like a bowling ball off a dorm roof. You can literally buy a modern first edition for less than an airport fiction paperback. WHY? because the market is flooded and we are up to our ass in books.
And they aren’t very good ones either. Is it me? or does it seem that in the last 10 years every editor in America was fired? either that or they all just suck at their jobs. They certainly aren’t correcting grammar or coherency. Hell, they aren’t even checking to see if what is written in the book didn’t come from someone ELSE’S book. These days if I find a mistake that could have been corrected by an editor, I fling the book across the room with great force. Who am I kidding? I stopped reading modern books when I ran out of spackle back in 02.
Where was I? oh yeah – ARCs. right now publishing middle managers who are worried about their jobs are preying on small time booksellers, claiming that they own advance review copies in perpetuity. This argument has no legs, if they wanted to claim property rights to these pieces of detritus, they should issue them with big honking SASEs. Since they don’t make arrangements to get their property back, then they are just jerking off.
However they are only picking on the monetarily defenseless used booksellers, unfortunately we need to wait until they pick on someone with a legal team. You don’t and you won’t see them sending cease and desist letters to Michael Dirda or any of the members of the National Book Critics Circle, because they NEED them. If they don’t want ARCs sold, they should try to bully the people who get the ARCs to begin with. WHY don’t they? Because deep in their bowels they KNOW that most of their books suck and they NEED reviewers to keep on reviewing them, so the few that DON’T suck will get bought.
You know this entire conversation would be MOOT, if ARCs were worth a damn. But they aren’t worth all that much. Not that many people want them or collect them, and unless it’s an ARC of a very good book or by a very good author, it is one step away from kindling. So basically ARC’s suck all by themselves.
So, can we get back to our regularly scheduled bitching and moaning?
btw feel free to edit the above for grammar and coherency.