Discussion: Selling ARCs

February 9, 2016     erinthebooknut     Discussion, Feature, Rant

*frustrated sigh* This is another one of those situations where I can hardly believe that we still have to talk about this. And yet here we are.

It all began with Sheridan at I Turn the Pages, and you can read her post about it here: This Post Here. Apparently there are still people who have no problem with buying and selling ARCs, their excuses are screen shotted below, curtesy of Sheridan.


Clearly, they know they’re wrong. They have their excuses that I guess help them sleep at night as they continue to buy and sell ARCs. I said this one Twitter and I’m going to say it again: just because publishers don’t go after each individual ARC buyer and sell does not mean it isn’t WRONG! Publishers don’t have the time nor the resources to go after a bunch of jerks on ebay. They’re busy doing their JOBS! That being getting great books out where people can read them. The function of ARCs is to help them do that, and they’re super expensive to make (because they’re made in lower numbers and no profit is made from them). But in the eyes of publishers ANY sale of an ARC is illegal. Just ask Spencer Hill Press:


Now this is not the only incident of this happening recently. ARCs of JLA’s new book Power were found on ebay and caused quite a bit of outrage when it was discovered that a blogger was happily selling them for their own gain. It’s not even the only incident YESTERDAY! Another person on Twitter talked about how they went into a used bookstore and found and ARC of Forever by Maggie Stiefvater selling for $35! The excuse? “Well I bought it so I’m allowed to sell it.” NO!

So other than the fact that each ARC has a NOT FOR SALE mark on it, why is buying and selling ARCs wrong?

  1. ARCs are promotional material. Free for reviewers but NOT for the publisher. Made in smaller numbers than published copies and will no profit made off of them, it is an extremely EXPENSIVE part of marketing for a publisher. That’s not even considering the cost of shipping them out to everyone. Their purpose is for marketing and hype, not for your own financial gain!
  2. It hurts the author. These are copies of an author’s book that the author gets no money from. No sale, no royalties. Selling an ARC to me is the same as piracy, it has the same effect for an author. You’re taking something they put their heart and soul into and not giving them what they earned for it. It’s stealing! It’s just as bad as piracy.
  3. IT’S WRONG! Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. Just because I CAN go buy some heroin doesn’t mean I should, or even that it’s ok for me to do it. The law still says that I can’t. This is the same situation. Just because you CAN get away with selling an ARC doesn’t make it legal, it doesn’t make it ok. I DON’T CARE HOW LONG THE BOOK HAS BEEN OUT! Seriously, just quit being a bag of dicks. The pubs have spoken and they’ve said no.

Primary market, secondary market, any market. Selling ARCs is wrong. It’s bad. You can say whatever you want to make yourself feel better and assuage your guilt but you are doing something wrong if you sell and ARC. You shouldn’t even buy one, buying an ARC gives a market to those who are doing the selling. Without buyers there would be no sellers. Period.

So let’s stop acting like a bag of smashed assholes and think about the consequences of what we do with our ARCs. As bloggers we are trusted by publishers with these early copies and if we keep violating that trust they’re not going to want to keep giving it to us. ARCs are a privilege, not a right.

Thanks to Sheridan at I Turn the Pages for the screenshot and the permission to write this post. Let’s all try to follow Wheaton’s Law and not be a dick (looking at you ARC sellers).

What’s you’re take on these situations? Is there something more we can do to prevent this? Share your thoughts in the comments.

From my shelf to yours,




5 responses to “Discussion: Selling ARCs

  1. ARGH, it’s frustrating to read about ARC selling over and over again but there will be no end to this, I guess. What we can do is tirelessly call out those people doing this (which is exactly what Sheridan did) and tell them that they are wrong. Authors and publishers openly condemning these acts would be largely helpful, too.

    Brilliant points on why ARC-selling is wrong. I agree with all of them. I love how you related it to movie/music piracy and selling drugs. Haha!

    • erinthebooknut

      Unless a bunch of people grow a conscious? It will probably never end. However, there are some really great stores that are super dedicated to keeping them off their shelves. If ebay would actually listen to customer complaints and take ARC reports seriously. Which they often don’t.

  2. At Project: LEARN’s BookShelf stores, our volunteers are instructed to keep ARCs off the shelf. Our stock is donated to us, so sometimes we do get ARCs in, and there are times when it is a little difficult to tell that a book is an ARC. It’s nice when the publisher puts a date on the spine, and the cover, so we can easily sort them out. Occasionally, one or two will slip through, so I assign a volunteer to look through all the trades about once a month to pull all ARCs. Last time, she only found 3, so not good enough, but better than the time we found 8. I appreciate you educating folks about this–it’s so unfair to a publisher and an author to sell these books.

    • erinthebooknut

      That’s one of the reasons I love you guys. You’re always so good about making sure ARCs aren’t sold. Seriously, that’s so appreciated. The used store in Bowling Green is awful about it, ARCs everywhere, but they’re kinda jerks about it if I say anything. I miss The Bookshelf stores. I’ll have to come see you guys soon! Thanks for stopping by, Karla!

      And if anyone is interested in the stores Karla is talking about, I wrote a post about them HERE.

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