Friday, February 5, 2016

"Free Books" and How That Is Not Always Accurate

This week in the blogging world, I saw a very interesting conversation emerge on the topic of other members of the book community offering advice for their followers to receive "free books". I'm not going to say their real name on the blog, so I'll call them A.

From my understanding, A had created a video where they spoke about some of their tips about how to get "free books". This video was several minutes long and had already been viewed by several people (and had been up on the channel) for a while before I was able to see it.

After watching the video, myself, along with several other bloggers, realized that there was a massive amount of misinformation presented in the video about what "free books" mean, and some of the other terms that A introduced in the video. Instead of picking apart every sentence that A mentioned in the video, I wanted to do my best to convey the correct information in this blog post, so that hopefully, this misinformation doesn't seem to spread, and also talk about why something like this can be so frustrating to bloggers.

First thing is first, "free books" does NOT include Advanced Readers Copies or other books sent from a publisher. Unless you won a giveaway, all Advanced Readers Copies and other finished copies sent out by publishers (in general) are sent out for review. This is especially the case with Advanced Readers Copies, because the reviews and appearance of the book on social media really helps the sales of the book and gets the word out to readers that may want to read this book when it comes out.

These books are not free, because a publisher has to pay out of pocket for these books to be produced. There is the cost of the production of the ARC itself, and (if the ARC is a physical copy) the cost of mailing the ARC out to bloggers and other professional reviewers. It costs the publisher money to make these books and send them to you, and while you don't have to pay anything to receive them, it is by no means "free". ARCs are a promotional tool for marketing. They are not "free books".

When publishers send you books, especially when you request them, they are expecting a review in return. You are not necessarily obligated to write a review for every single ARC that you receive, but at least for books that you request from publishers, you should write an honest review for.

The only "free books" that you will ever receive in the blogging world are the books that you borrow from the library or the books that you receive as a present from one of your friends. (Sometimes you can get ARCs from other bloggers, but this falls into a different category and you should still review them if they are not out yet, or at least try to).

I didn't like the way that A's video was pitched because, to me, it looked like A was promoting the idea of getting into blogging only to get free books. (Just to be clear, I'm not accusing A of doing this when they got into creating videos). This is NOT a reason to get into blogging, and while I know ARCs and other review books can be tempting sometimes, you should blog about what you love. You should create content about what you love, and maybe some of these ARCs will follow, and maybe they won't. Blogging isn't about getting ARCs or being noticed by massive publishers. It shouldn't be that way, and if it is, maybe it is a sign that the community should change/we need to have a massive discussion about it.

A's video also made it sound like requesting and reviewing digital ARCs (also known as eARCs) lead to the blogger being sent physical review copies. This isn't the case. Digital ARCs are for people that prefer reading books on their electronic devices. Everyone has different reading preferences. In my mind, digital ARCs are no different than physical ARCs. They hold the same expectations, and you should review them. The content is exactly the same, just the formatting is different. Digital ARCs don't necessarily lead to receiving physical ARCs at all. Personally, I don't think the two are related at all.

It's moments, posts and videos like this that make me a little bit uncomfortable. In A's case, there was a lot of information in the video that is being spread to a large following. It makes my heart hurt to think that people are only getting involved in blogging to get "free books". I completely understand that these new bloggers may be completely uninformed. I wanted to make this post in the hopes that the "right" information gets spread to all of these people. The book blogging community should be a positive one and one where we are not afraid to point out flaws in others information and offer nice corrections.

I really hope this post did not come across as harsh - I'm not trying to personally attack A for their video or their channel - I'm just trying to make a point. Misinformation is not okay, and make sure that you do your research.

That being said, if anything is incorrect in this post, please let me know and I will update the post with my updates posted in bold. I know I'm still relatively new to blogging and I know that I can get things wrong sometimes.

Let's talk in the comments below. If you have seen this video, let me know what you think about it. If not, what are your thoughts about this post? Is there anything you should add? Should I make another post about ARCs? Would that help to stop the problem? I'll be honest, I don't know what I can do to stop the problem, but I can try to stop the misinformation from spreading. I have to.


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