Why I’m Not Interested in Requesting ARCs

Discussion Post

Cool Color Books

I have never understood the drama surrounding ARCs.  From what I can tell, book bloggers feel like they are in competition with each other in order to get more views so they can get more ARCs.  The purpose of the ARCs is to get more views.  Which, in turn, will presumably get them…more ARCs?  There is no money in book blogging.  We have too few views, when compared to the millions a food or fashion blogger might receive, for anyone to want to sponsor or endorse us.  Therefore, the competition must solely be in order to cyclically gain more views to get more ARCs until suddenly we book bloggers are buried in volumes and wondering how we will ever stop panicking long enough to write the reviews we promised.

Interestingly, however, my own experience tells me that ARC reviews do not get noticeably more views than other reviews. In fact, publishing a review of a very popular book the same day it is released has not proven a very successful view-generating strategy for me in the past.  I believe that this is because the purpose of ARCs conflicts with the purpose of book blogs.  ARCs are marketing tools.  Book blogs are sites that build community and foster discussion.  Our readers do not seem invested in reading reviews of popular books before they have read the same book themselves.  They do not want to be spoiled.  They want to wait to read the book themselves, then perhaps return to share their thoughts.

Requesting ARCs in order to compete with other bloggers thus seems an inherently flawed strategy.  There are no benefits to requesting ARCs you do not want to read or do not have time to read.  But there are plenty of downsides, such as having to read a book you are not really interested in or even dislike, having to read to a schedule that stresses you out, and having to deal with feelings of guilt that you entered into an agreement you may not be able to fulfill.  All to write a review that might not generate much traffic anyway!  I see no problem with requesting ARCs for books that seem exciting or with wanting to spread the word about a talented author or a delightful story.  However, requesting ARCS in order to “compete” with others seems like a strategy with no clear winners.

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73 thoughts on “Why I’m Not Interested in Requesting ARCs

  1. David says:

    Wise thoughts! I’ve never requested one, but then I’ve never been a big enough blogger to feel justified in that, haha. And I specifically chose to focus my blog on the stuff I like to read, which includes a lot of older material and material I don’t think gets talked about enough. And as you’ve said, I’ve always approaching book-blogging as a medium for group discussion and sharing, not competition. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Krysta says:

      I think I’ve only read ARCs I’ve been offered, actually. I’ve never requested one, either! I just tend not to be interested. I go to the library often and have a stack of books always ready to be read, so I don’t feel a need to read any certain book RIGHT THIS MOMENT. And, though I know ARCS are free books, so are library books!

      I like your blog, though, because it does feature stuff other people aren’t talking about. You either focus on stuff that I love and wish more people would talk about, or you feature really cool stuff I’ve never heard of before. 😀

      Like

  2. EIise @thebookishactress says:

    Haha, I don’t understand the requesting-arcs-for-status culture, but I feel as if it’s mostly a thing with bloggers who just frankly aren’t that into reading. I love arcs personally because they’re free books – it’s really helpful for people on budget, and I’d expect I’m not alone on that one.

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  3. Rosie Amber says:

    I don’t get involved in ARC battles, but of the few I do get offered, I’d like to see the standard of many of them improved. Often they are still in need of a final edit and full of errors. We can only review what we are given and not ‘assume’ all the faults will be fixed.
    Reviewer’s are more likely to post a review than many of the paying public, so don’t we deserve the very best a book can be?

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    • Krysta says:

      That’s a difficult one. I’m sure that the copy editors aren’t intending a poorly edited book to get through even for a ARC review, but probably the process depends on time and financial constraints, so I imagine that they do what they can with what they have. I am always sad, however, when I have an ARC and it doesn’t have the illustrations added yet. I love illustrations!

      I have to say, too, (and I’m not very popular in the blogosphere for my opinion on this), but I don’t think book bloggers drive the market as much as we tend to give ourselves credit for. Most of us get a few hundred views a month–from other book bloggers. Compare that to a food blogger who might get a few million, most of them search engine hits. Our reach isn’t that wide and we’re talking to people already reading and buying books anyway. So I tend to understand when publishers don’t choose to invest marketing money in book bloggers. Publishers are often losing money on books and just hoping that they’ll get the next Harry Potter to subsidize everything else they put out that year, so I get why they tend to be careful with their resources.

      And, honestly, as far as reviews go, a review on Amazon is probably worth far more than one on a book blog, which is why so many authors asks bloggers to cross post on various sites like Amazon and GR. But non-bloggers do those reviews, too.

      Liked by 3 people

  4. Carrie @ Cat on the Bookshelf says:

    I’ve requested ARCs and seem to get approved for ones that I end up hating (I thought the premise was good). I guess that could happen with any book, but it puts me off from reading ARCs when I have a tendency to end up hating it after all. That just makes me stick to borrowing and buying books that are already published and after reading others’ reviews. Frankly, I don’t think they help with views too.

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    • Krysta says:

      Oh no! It’s always disappointing when a book has a good premise and then it just falls flat. And, with ARCs, I find that I feel kind of bad having to give a less-than-stellar review. I feel less bad doing it with books that are already published so more people can read them and make up their own minds.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. alilovesbooks says:

    I request and read a lot of ARCs but I’ve never felt like I was competing against other bloggers to get the most or the most anticipated. I request books I want to read and would probably end up buying anyway.

    I did go a bit nuts at the start (free books!!!) which put me under pressure and meant I ended up with some truly terrible reads but now I’m much more selective. I don’t see anything wrong with it. It saves me a fortune and has allowed me to take a chance on new authors I may never otherwise have discovered.

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    • Krysta says:

      That sounds like a good way to do it. If you’re excited for a book, of course you want to read it as soon as possible and help the author out by spreading the word!

      Haha. Who doesn’t love free books, though? 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Lauren @ Wonderless Reviews says:

    This is a really interesting view point to this discussion!

    I definitely agree to some extent that people use ARCs as competition and that there is a lot of unnecessary drama surrounding them. I mostly request ARCs when it’s a book I’m excited about and can’t wait to get my hands on. At the start I went a bit overboard on NG, but now I rarely request anything. I enjoy communicating with publishers too. I definitely don’t agree with people requesting books that they know they won’t read or like because that’s a waste of everyone’s time, haha.

    I do think there can be a bit too much pressure put on ARCs and I know when I started blogging I felt like I HAD to have them to prove that I was doing this whole thing right, but I’ve definitely learnt along the way that’s not the case.

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    • Krysta says:

      I think that makes sense. If there’s a book I really want to read, I’d love an ARC, too! Why not, right? 😀 Still, we don’t feature a lot of ARCs on our blog and we seem to be doing all right. No one’s ever said anything about it to us, either. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Meggy | Chocolate'n'Waffles says:

    I do request ARCs, often of new authors or authors I’ve heard of when I feel like a story could be my thing, but I don’t get the “who’s gonna get more ARCs?” thing. Book reviewing and blogging is not a competition, you read what you want, you don’t have to read a certain number to prove you are a book blogger! And you definitely don’t need ARCs to blog. Great post!

    Like

    • Krysta says:

      Yeah, we can all be book bloggers however we want to be book bloggers! I don’t think we need to compete. After all, different life circumstances, interests, skills, etc. are going to affect what we do. So there’s little sense in comparing ourselves and feeling like we don’t measure up.

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  8. Artsyteen777 says:

    I am not very familiar with ARCs but as a viewer, I can agree that Book Bloggers should have more action. Books are so important, to our education and for our minds. Cooking, beauty, fashion etc are very fun hobbies. I believe books and even learning tutorials are incredibly helpful and you can learn! (?) What do you think?
    -Artsyteen @ https://hearwhatsup.wordpress.com

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  9. bookishparadiseblog says:

    Interesting discussion! I also have no interest in requesting ARCs, though I think that bloggers may just request them just because it’s cool to have a copy of the book before it’s even out.

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  10. Briana says:

    I mostly just accept ARCs when they happen to be pitched to me, as well, rather than seeking them out, and I try to accept books I really think I will be interested in. I think my issue with sites like Netgalley is that it’s too easy for me to think “Hm, this looks mildly interesting” and request it, rather than being more discriminating. I agree free things are nice, but it’s not that exciting if you don’t actually end up liking the book!

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  11. theorangutanlibrarian says:

    I relate to this post so much!! (I’ve only tried out ARCs recently and only for books I really want, so my likelihood of getting the book is phenomenally low) hahaha oh my goodness YES to that first paragraph, because ultimately this is a hobby (that doesn’t and won’t pay) And I don’t think my reviews in general get as many hits as my other posts, so I can’t see ARCs giving me a spike. And yes, you’re right- I do think there’s even a chance that if I post a review (I really do very few ARCs) when a book is newly released is actually lower than if I do it a month or two later, cos that gives people a chance to read it and discuss it. And I *one hundred* percent agree that there doesn’t seem to be anything to gain from requesting a book you don’t actually want to read. Like I said, I have a tendency to only request books I’d buy anyway, but the one time I requested something on a whim, I ended up being so meh about it and I didn’t enjoy doing any of it, because the whole process felt like a chore. Anyway, amazing post! I wish this was discussed a bit more in the blogging community!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. annelogan17 says:

    I had no idea people competed with each other by requesting more ARCs. I guess I don’t really see the point in that, if it’s not getting you anymore views on your blog, why bother? And won’t it hurt your standings with the publishers anyway, if you have a bunch of outstanding reviews? I’m not a NG member so I honestly don’t know the answers to these questions LOL

    Like

    • Krysta says:

      I think it depends on the publisher and where you’re requesting ARCs from. At least for NG, my understanding is that you want a high ratio of books reviewed in order to be approved. Publishers who just mail out a bunch of ARCs might not be able/willing to keep track of them all, though. They probably assume at least some won’t be read or reviewed.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. saraletourneau says:

    I’m not a book blogger, so the only time I’ve ever received ARCs are from writers / authors I know personally (and therefore have an interest in reading) or from giveaways I’ve entered (because, once again, I was already interested in reading the book). It’s exciting to receive them, yes, but I also don’t place as much emphasis on getting my hands on them. So as I read this post… I guess it doesn’t surprise me that some book bloggers are so competitive about getting ARCs, but I agree with your points more than I do with that sense of competition. After all, it’s more fun to share enthusiasm and love for books rather than hog it all to yourself, isn’t it?

    Like

  14. SERIESous Book Reviews says:

    I will admit that I get ARC envy from time to time. Most of the time its for sequels that I can’t wait to read and so I get jealous when someone gets to read it a little earlier because I wanted to read it as soon as I finished the first novel.

    But I never feel like I’m competing for ARCs with other bloggers. I agree that that is a silly way to view ARCs yet or some people that’s the way it is. For me, requesting ARCs is about spreading the word about a new book/series or author I love. While the stats might not get me much on my own blog I know that cross posting my reviews elsewhere (like Amazon, Goodreads) help authors immensely. Every little bit helps, even if I just “recruit” one person to read.

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  15. Kristyn @ Reading To Unwind says:

    Sometimes I pick up a book and it just isn’t for me so I find it hard to request and ARC when it is possible that I might not like the book at all. I always try and read through books that I have started to see reviews on to see what people are saying about them first. There are to many books to get through to get stuck on one that you might not love. Great post!

    Like

  16. Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight says:

    This is quite an interesting post! I think for me personally, the whole “ARC envy” thing is more like… I want to be like, important enough to merit one? If that makes sense. Not even the ARC itself is important, it’s more like, “wow, look, a publisher thinks my blog is worth investing an ARC in”. But I have no idea what the general consensus on that is- that would be an interesting post in itself!

    I do agree about the views- I don’t think reviewing ARCs has any kind of positive association with pageviews either. I have gotten MUCH better about requesting these days too- I only request when it’s a book I am REALLY looking forward to, otherwise, yeah, I agree it can definitely be stressful! I also though feel like I work a bit better with a schedule to read, so that is another plus for me that might be a negative for other people!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Krysta says:

      That makes sense. We want others to recognize all the hard work we do as bloggers! And it also makes sense to request ARCs you actually want. Why not read a book early if you can and help support the author at the same time?

      Like

  17. Marie says:

    This is such an interesting discussion and point of view, I’m so glad you wrote this. I have to agree with Shannon’s comment right above, for me, getting an ARC means that you are, in a way, “important enough” to get this kind of opportunity, to read and promote a book before its release date. I have gotten ARC envy, but I know I don’t get many chances because of geography just as well and, to me, well it just seems a little silly that there are ARC “battles” of some kind between bloggers. This should be an amazing opportunity and we should just be happy and support the books, not create more unecessary drama 🙂
    Great post! 🙂

    Like

    • Krysta says:

      It’s certainly a good feeling to think that you’ve finally made it as a blogger! It makes sense to be proud of your hard work and to be grateful that others are recognizing it!

      Like

  18. Katisha @ Reel Literature says:

    I haven’t requested any ARCs because I thought new bloggers didn’t get them. Plus, bloggers always seem so stressed about them, and I have enough stress in my life trying to keep up with my blog, and I mostly review movie books.

    I recently requested and received a book on NetGalley for the first time, but that book has already been published.

    Like

    • Krysta says:

      Since ARCs are a marketing tool, publishers do tend to give them to bloggers who have higher views (which is just good business sense, really). I don’t know if there’s a magic number you have to get, but if your page views seem decent, it doesn’t matter if you’re new or not! 🙂

      Like

  19. Leah says:

    This is a great discussion post. As a new blogger, I have never received an arc. Besides the fact that publishers sometimes pick bloggers that are popular to send stuff to, including arcs, which seems exciting, the other part of arcs has seemed stressful. You put into words that stress. It has always seemed like that was something I was going to have to do to get more views but if it doesn’t seem like that even works I would MUCH rather just stick to the part of blogging that I love!

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  20. Milliebot says:

    Tbh I request Arcs of books I’m exited for because I want free books 🤣 then if it’s a real fave of mine I’ll buy a physical copy too. But I don’t request books I don’t genuinely want to read.

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  21. Books, Vertigo and Tea says:

    There is a lot of truth here. This “Competitive” atmosphere definitely sheds a negative light on ARCs and really defeats the purpose of them. It is too bad because ARCs hold a lot of importance in terms of the publishing and marketing process. Publishers and authors rely on that feedback and promotion. It is a shame to see them so misused so often. But I also equally know just as many bloggers who receive ARCs often and make excellent use of them. I accept and request only titles I genuinely hold an interest in for whatever reason. It does myself nor the author or publisher any good to request books I am really not concerned with or will not read. Let them find a deserved home with someone who can serve their purpose well 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Krysta says:

      Yeah, it seems that a lot of bloggers get really excited about ARCs, end up with too many, and feel stressed. It makes much more sense to start out with the ones you are really excited about. You can always request more once you’re done, right?

      Liked by 1 person

  22. Pen & Parchment says:

    I definitely agree with most of what you pointed out, the habit of requesting ARCs just for the sake of requesting them does nothing but stress bloggers out and turn their blog into an advertisement billboard, rather than a creative platform. I have fallen into the trap myself, especially with Netgalley, which makes it so easy to request a ton all at once. As soon as I had more than I could handle, I instantly regretted it. ARCs are a great privilege when they’re of books you’re truly excited for and want to spread the word about, but like all things, they’re best in moderation. Great discussion!

    Like

  23. Cas @ Lovely Paranormal Books says:

    This is an interesting topic! “Competing” seems to be pointless, it doesn’t help you at all and won’t lower the traffic of other blogs. I used to request books on NetGalley but now I only do so rarely and with books by authors I’ve read before; this strategy allows me to read some books by authors I like in advance and also not get overloaded with books I’m not interested in (as I have been in the past).

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  24. Cam @ Camillea Reads says:

    I love this discussion! When I first started blogging I got into the ARC craze and have now ended up with a long list of books to review. Sadly, I have to admit, that some of the books I’ve been approved for aren’t ones that are of my reading interest. I simply requested them because, as you said, I wanted to be ahead of the competition.

    Lesson learned, at least. I’ve stopped requesting books on NetGalley for now except for ones I know I truly want to read. I’m focusing my time on working through the review copies and if there’s a book I really want to read, I approach publishers.

    Sharing this on Twitter!

    Like

    • Krysta says:

      That sounds like a great approach! I see nothing wrong with ARCS or reading books we want to read. I think the key is to find a way to blog that ensures we still enjoy reading!

      Like

  25. DoingDewey says:

    I don’t think any of the bloggers I follow try to get ARCs in a competitive way. My impression is that this is more common among YA bloggers, but I’ve not observed enough ARC drama myself to be sure that’s true. I definitely agree with your observation that having review copies doesn’t seem to do much for building community. Sometimes I end up reviewing a book a lot of other people are reviewing and we chat about it, but I’m much more likely to get a lot of comments when I review a really popular older book – the sort of book where I feel like I’m the only one who hasn’t read it yet 🙂

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    • Krysta says:

      I follow mostly YA blogs, so I’m not sure how other bloggers handle ARCs, but that could be true. I think it’s also true that older books seem to get the most traffic. Well-beloved titles are ones that people really seem to want to talk about, less so books they haven’t read yet themselves!

      Like

  26. Jenna @ Falling Letters says:

    As usual, I’m a bit late to this post and see there are many comments – I probably don’t have anything new to add but will comment anyway 😛 “There are no benefits to requesting ARCs you do not want to read or do not have time to read.” – agreed! I think there’s a kind of thrill in receiving an ARC, a book that not just anyone gets to read, but I don’t think it’s worth the fuss. I only request ARCs if the book is already on my TBR, though I will accept offers of other books if I really think I’ll enjoy them.

    Like

    • Krysta says:

      That makes sense–treating ARCs like any other book. If you want to read it, why not pick it up? If you don’t want to read it, why would pick it up?

      Like

  27. Olivia-Savannah says:

    I think ARCs have their pros and cons. Personally I don’t really review them much (and don’t request them anymore because I realised they didn’t suit me – I don’t work well with reading deadlines). I do like reading reviews of ARCs though, because I love buying new releases where I have some opinions on them.

    But mostly? I like reading reviews of books I have already read so I can truly discuss them in the comments with fellow bloggers. But at the same time I do like ARC reviews to discover new books, and I understand how marketing is important for a lot of authors as well.

    And I don’t like when a blog solely becomes ARC reviews, or even backlist or normal reviews either. I need my discussions and creative posts in there too!

    Like

    • Krysta says:

      Yeah, I like reading reviews of books I’ve read so I can comment more than, “This looks like a good book!” I do use reviews to find new books, but it’s hard to discuss books I haven’t read.

      Yes, our discussion posts certainly get far more traffic than our reviews. I think people do like a mix!

      Liked by 1 person

  28. Evelina @ AvalinahsBooks says:

    I don’t really request ARCs that I don’t want to read 🙂 I only request the ones I actually do want to read (and get carried away…) I guess it was different for me though, because I’m international, and I couldn’t really buy books easily (or cheaply), so getting ARCs was primarily a way to read for me, in general. I just got a little bit carried away with them xD closed my eyes, and here I am a year later with a load of books.

    I am trying to request less lately though, although there have been amazing finds. I don’t request ARCs to be popular though, nobody likes reviews, especially of unknown books 😀 for me, it’s just a way of reading more diversely, getting books that would never reach my country any other way. And I have to get them as ARCs, because if later they can only be purchased, chances are the prices will be too high for me.

    But I wouldn’t say that we request books “to compete” with each other. At least, my goals are totally different.

    But I do agree that I should request less books 😀 I made a mistake when I just joined NetGalley (before I even had a blog), and downloaded a ton of books. You are right, most of those are books I actually don’t want to read anymore. But the ones I request now, when I’m more experienced.. Some of those are books I’ve actively been waiting for, or else, they’re probably on a topic that I’m really passionate about. So when I request, I request because of the book’s contents and because I won’t be able to get it elsewhere later. I guess my situation might be slightly different than most people’s 🙂

    Good discussion! Sharing.

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    • Krysta says:

      I think that people request ARCs for different reasons. I was responding primarily to a series of posts that I saw in which the bloggers expressed dismay that they felt pressured to compete for ARCs with other bloggers and were overwhelmed by the number of ARCs they did request. Not surprisingly, no one commenting here has admitted to feeling competitive, however, because the book blogosphere has unwritten rules suggesting you’re not really supposed to disagree with anyone. So if I write saying I don’t think we should be competitive, I assume that no one is going to comment that we ought to be competitive. 😉

      I don’t think I’ve ever requested an ARC? I don’t have money to buy books, either, but I do have a good library system. So my real problem is checking out too many books at once sometimes. Fortunately, the library doesn’t care if I return one or two unread. 😀 Also, sometimes I get a book home and it doesn’t seem good anymore or I read the first two pages and decide it’s not my thing, so back it goes! But I’d feel bad doing that if I had an ARC I had said I would read.

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      • Evelina @ AvalinahsBooks says:

        Oh yeah, if I had a good library system, I guess that would change things loads 🙂 that’s true. Libraries don’t require ANYTHING! Haha. The problem with local libraries here though is that new books are just not a thing. Most of the time. You can read classics, I guess. But I also like reading in English. And they just don’t really carry books on English. As for being competitive… I don’t know, I certainly don’t mind that others get books if I do as well 😂 as long as I get access, I don’t care to be the only one who does 😊 but maybe that’s just cause I’m a Hufflepuff lol 😃 I do agree though, that when, for example, you get declined for a book, and another blogger gets it, you feel kind of like crap – and start comparing yourself to them, thinking, why am I worse than them etc… that is definitely the bad part about doing the ARCs thing. Luckily, I mostly care about less popular books xD I rarely request hyped ARCs… so there’s less disappointment. Cause it’s the really hyped ones that are hard to get.

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        • Krysta says:

          Yeah, a good library system makes all the difference. The one I’m in now does okay, but they really don’t have the budget to buy all the new releases. Or, if they do, they might get it six months after the release. I end up requesting books from other libraries frequently and there’s a charge for it–but it’s way less than buying all the books new for $25!

          I don’t really understand the competitive element since, as you point out, we should feel happy for others’ good fortune! I think we shouldn’t feel too badly when others get the ARC since, honestly, I don’t believe publishers spend time comparing us. Probably they look to see who has decent stats and then either randomly pick one or pick the first one on the list. They’re so busy I can’t imagine they’re actually reading hundreds of blogs. In fact, I’m sure they’re not because I read a bunch of bloggers who say they get sent boxes of ARCs they never read. If the publishers knew that, presumably they would stop sending ARCs to that particular blog?

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  29. Ivyclad Ideas says:

    If I’m reading reviews for newly released books, I’m doing it on Goodreads. As a blogger, I’ve never been fussed about ARCs. I just don’t have the time. Coursebooks are priority. Besides, it seems like a lot of pressure. As for the idea that ARCs get more views, I find that reviews tend to get less comments and views than any other type of post.

    Like

    • Krysta says:

      That makes sense. I think it’s less pressure, too, not to have to deal with ARCs. And, as you say, reviews don’t tend to get as many views anyway. Even if it is an ARC review.

      Like

  30. Jovita says:

    I don’t request ARC’s, I did win a book at Goodreads and it was clearly marked on the spine that it was a ARC. I felt pressured to post a review on the release date from the letter I received, plus I didn’t like the book (which I did mention in my review). I also think that SOME ARC reviewers are not as honest about the review they give because the book was given to them for free, not all but some.

    I’ve seen some bloggers and booktubers that have taken ARCs a bit overboard, to extreme levels, they keep charts and spreadsheets and such. I think some bloggers are secretly completive (and probably would never admit), they want to have a lot of followers and maybe feel that by posting ARC reviews bring readers in. I just don’t understand all the hoopla over ARC’s. For those are happy requesting them, keep doing what makes you happy.

    I love my library, it keeps me from going in debt from book purchases 🙂 Great discussion post.

    Like

    • Krysta says:

      Yeah, I can see how a reviewer might feel bad giving a poor review to something they received free. Yet another reason to get the book elsewhere–less pressure all around!

      Wow! I don’t know if I’d enjoy reading anymore if I needed a spreadsheet to keep track! I’m sure that it feels good to receive an ARC, but, honestly, I don’t know if publishers are really debating the pros and cons of different blogs. Probably if they see decent stats ,they’ll send an ARC out. I really don’t think they have time to review all the blogs out there and compare, especially when blogs probably aren’t that influential when it comes to marketing. Even the biggest blogs don’t get a lot of reviews. It probably is more effective to market to schools, libraries, and bookstores.

      Haha, mine, too! I definitely wouldn’t be able to buy 100 books a year! That’s usually around what I end up reading, more or less.

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