Friday, December 14, 2012

Advance Reading Copies and My Big Fat Brain Freeze

Earlier this month I warned you about Advance Reading Copies—what they are, where you might see them, and where you shouldn’t. I ended the post in a snit because I’d accidentally purchased an ARC at a used bookstore. And I’d paid a good amount for the book to boot.

Well. May I just say

Of COURSE used bookstores sell ARCs whenever they can. Here’s why:
1. Collectors and fanatics – You never know who they are nor which author they lust after. ARCs are delicacies for them.
2. Author signatures – Many writers sign their ARCs before sending them off to reviewers and friends. This is gold for some readers and worth whatever price tag the bookstore sticks on the cover.
3. The Process Revealed – Fledgling writers and editors enjoy comparing ARC versions to the final ones, for kicks and for education.

So there you have it. The price is whatever the market will bear.

In the case of the ARC that started all this, I was just miffed that I’d paid so much for it—even though it’s signed, even though it’s in mint condition. I bought it simply for information, and I hope the copy is at a late stage in the editorial process (i.e., has few corrections to be made). The problem was not that the store was selling the ARC; the problem was that I wasn’t paying attention!

[Photo from Chompsky.]

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