Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Elusive ARC

So, due to the fact I always have an inbox full of questions as to how I was able to read a book months before it's out I need to tell people about the joys of the ARC. An ARC is an Advance Readers/Reviewers Copy that is an uncorrected proof of the book that's coming out in a few months. By uncorrected it means there are errors and that anything wrong will be supposedly fixed for the final book (not that I've ever seen anyone fix errors, even one's I've written to them about, yes Lisa Lutz's editors this is you, fix that Doctor Who error please for the mass market edition, you didn't fix it yet for the paperback). Usually the ARC is the finished book. It's always paperback, on kind of crappy paper, sometimes it has the cover printed on it along with all the publicity info you will need to help them promote this book (that is after all WHY you got it early, to help them promote it and get the word of mouth out there). In my opinion, the true joy of the ARC is instant gratification for those who can't stand to wait the 2, 3 or 4 months till the books is released (aka people like me). The ARC comes with a few rules though. Legally you are not allowed to sell them because they are not your property, the ARC is the property of the publisher. Bookstores, ebay, wherever, you can't sell them, though people do, despite the restrictions and you can usually find them, usually for scandalous amounts of money (for a popular author like Shannon Hale or Charlaine Harris expect to see people paying $200-500, which is why people are tempted to sell them). Also you usually have to keep your mouth shut about plot points, caveats to what you can and can't say. For example Shannon Hale has been imploring people to not reveal something that happens in Forest Born, out in September...and sometimes it's harder to keep your mouth shut then to wait the few extra months to read it with everyone else.

I will also mention that this past weekend I hit ARC pay dirt! I was at WisCon, the feminist science fiction convention in Madison, Wisconsin, and they had an event called Galley Ho! This was a charity event where you could get 10 ARCs for $10! Most of the books were already in bookstores or just about to be, so it was more for the cheapness that this was a great find. But also I gotta say it, I love ARCs, even if it's already in bookstores, it's fun to have the pre-book if you will, the shadow of the real thing, a paperback while it's still a hardback. The novelty and specialness that the ARC embraces...the preview of what's to come is what I fully and whole heartily embrace. ARCs I love you.


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