I have a love-hate relationship with Advanced Readers' Copies. I love getting titles that I need to read; I hate getting random sequels to high school paranormal romances. Since I read any book I purchase before spending tax payer money on it, I rely heavily on the public library. Here's the beautiful thing about that-- the public library doesn't care if I review the book. They just want it back when I'm done.
Recently, my Baker and Taylor representative enrolled me in their ARC group. The students are SO excited when they see what I have. The problem is that the books I want to read-- sports books or humor for boys-- are not heavily promoted. Half the box consists of books with girls in fancy dresses spread languidly across the cover.
I love Netgalley. com. If I request a book and don't like it, no trees have died, and considerably less money has been spent to provide me with a copy.
The wonderful Gail Gauthier, who blogs at Original Content, addresses the issue of "What to DO with ARCs when the reviewer has read them". ARCs are meant to generate buzz for a book and help it sell. ARCs are NEVER to be included in library collections or, obviously, sold. One author on the list serve where Ms. Gauthier brought this up was worried about ARCs getting into students' hands, because frequently there are a lot of changes made, and there can be spelling and grammar errors that are later fixed. I thought about this a lot.
I would like to tell publishers and authors everywhere that ARCs ending up in students' hands is not going to impact their sales. I give away all of mine to students, and try to pick students who would otherwise not own any books of their own. Right now, I am stock piling ARCs to give away in May, when all of the library books are due but students will still have Sustained Silent Reading. We have a book fair, I push hard for students to get public library cards, and I have stocked classrooms with a variety of reading materials, but there are still some students who have NO books at all of their own.
When I got a copy of Heather Brewers' First Kill, I had a contest in the library. Fifty students entered letters explaining why they should win the copy, and the boy who did was thrilled. I would encourage bloggers, reviewers, authors and publicists to give ARCs to schools where there are a lot of economically disadvantaged students. Unfortunately, one needs not travel far to find one of these.