Have Physical ARCs Lost Their Appeal?

Jenna from Jenna Does Books posed a question on Twitter the other day:

Curious question: who here still sends physical ARC requests to publishers? Jenna Does Books ‏@jennadoesbooks

My response and those from other people got me thinking: have physical ARCs lost their appeal?

A few months into my first year of blogging, I thought ARCs were SO COOL! And the thought of getting regular physical ARCs from publishers seemed like the crown jewel of book blogging. Eventually I did get a few physical ARCs, but it died down really quickly for two reasons:

  1. I was constantly going back and forth between the US and the UK, and that made it hard for me to maintain relationships with publishers. I had a few contacts in the US, but they were useless to me while I was in the UK (because they won’t ship there), and I had zero UK contacts.
  2. I was getting almost all the books I wanted on NetGalley and Edelweiss anyway, so I stopped requesting physical copies.

I’d say the biggest reason at first was #1. For a long time I wanted to keep getting physical ARCs, but I didn’t know how to go about getting contacts in the UK. But after a few months of feeling sorry for myself I realized: even if I could request physical ARCs in the UK, I probably wouldn’t. I get most of the ARCs I want from NG/EW. There are a few cases in which publishers don’t put the books I want up on those sites, but I usually have enough other ARCs to tide me over until the release dates for the books I didn’t get. And ultimately I realized: I prefer eARCs anyway.

eARCs are more convenient than physical ones

Maybe it’s because I’m in a unique circumstance, but maybe other people feel this way too. I’m constantly picking up and moving between London (I have an apartment there), Canterbury (where I go to uni), Cambridge (where my fiancé lives), and California (where my family lives). Lots of train rides. Lots of weekends away from home. Lots of plane rides. I can’t physically cart around physical copies of books. Even for a commute to uni and back (an hour each way), I’d HAVE to bring at least two physical books in case I finished the first one. And that number grows if it’s a weekend away, or a couple weeks. So the options are to either bring multiple physical books or one Kindle.

The Kindle always wins.

What do you do with physical ARCs after you’ve read them?

And then there’s the question of: what do you do with physical ARCs when you’re done with them? I found them to actually be a bit of a nuisance. I’d stick them on my shelf, then a few weeks later I’m out of shelf space and have to do some spring cleaning. Well, some libraries flat out won’t take ARCs so I can’t always donate them there. I can’t give away all these on the blog because the shipping costs do add up. If I have nowhere else to put or give away physical ARCs, do I have to throw them in the bin? *heart attack*

Do you regularly request physical copies of books?

Do you prefer physical ARCs or eARCs?

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I'm a 27 year old California girl living in England (I fell in love with a Brit!). I like to inject a little #girlpower into the WordPress development community by teaching women how to be coding badasses. more »

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62 comments

  1. I have received a few physical ARC’s, 5 or so I think. But I never request them. When someone asks me to review a book and offers a physical copy (and I’m interested in the book) I’ll say I would like that, but they have to consider the shipping costs. And if they then say that they can’t do that, it’s okay for me, because I get it. I live in Belgium and the costs for sending a simple book to me is ridiculous. So I never really request it, like you I get most of my ARC’s on Netgalley or Edelweiss.

    Bieke @ Istyria book blog recently posted: ARC Review: On the Fence by Kasie West
    1. I think there are also legal issues with a US publisher sending ARCs to a non-US resident. I think due to licensing issues they’re only allowed to send ARCs to the country where they are publishing the book. So if it’s a US publisher only publishing the book themselves in the US, they’re only allowed to send ARCs to the US.

  2. I have to admit that when I started blogging I basically worshiped ARCs but now the appeal has definitely lessened.

    Yes initially it’s exciting and super cool when you get those ARCs in the mail. But with ARCs come a lot of responsibility and pressure and I feel that with physical ARCs this pressure is even greater.

    I wouldn’t say that I have stopped requesting ARCs completely but I’ve definitely reduced it.

    Nuzaifa @ Say It with Books recently posted: Discussion: The Art of Blog Designing
    1. Yeah I definitely feel more pressure with physical ARCs.. especially the unsolicited ones. I requested like 2 or 3 physical ARCs, but ended up getting about 10+ because they also sent me a bunch I didn’t ask for.. and even though publishers always say you’re not obligated to review the ones you didn’t ask for, I still felt the pressure. I felt like I was drowning in ARCs (which may sound amazing to some people, but it was overwhelming to me).

        1. Yeah I had the same problem with series too! And I wasn’t interested in the books enough to want to buy the first book in the series, so I never read them. 🙁 That’s probably why the publisher stopped sending me ARCs… lol.

  3. I would prefer physical ARCs but only because as much as I do love ebooks, I still love physical books more. 😀 But I’ve never actually asked for a physical ARC – mainly because I haven’t yet built up any relationship with a publisher, and I would only be able to get them from Australian publishers…I can’t see an american publisher spending the postage to send a physical book all the way over here for some unknown blogger. LOL.

    But i’m curious – are you ALLOWED to give away physical arcs? I always assumed you were, but then I had read in a few places that publishers don’t allow you to. If the library won’t accept, what about places like aged homes, or hospitals or school libraries, or even your local second hand/charity shops? (although that last one probably wouldn’t be good as they would be selling them on) Perhaps a local hospice, rehab center, etc etc could make use of them?

    1. I’ve asked all my publisher contacts this question (I’m Canadian) and they said that it’s ok to pass books on to fellow readers. And to host a giveaway for it. It’s that mentality to keep passing it on. ARCs are a lot more expensive to produce because of this.

  4. I prefer hard copies. I really like e-ARCs for the convenience…buuut, I only read on an iPod. And the screen is tiny. I also like collecting books. Stroking them, admiring the, smelling them….you know, the norm. My problem is what to do with the ARCs if I didn’t like them and therefore would rather NOT keep them…

  5. I’m still quite new to the blogging world and (probably) therefore still think that physical ARCs are just awesome! I haven’t even requested any though, because since I live in Germany I know that the shipping costs are probably ridiculous! Who would be willing to spend so much money just to send a book to an unknown book blogger…

    Nadia @ Nadia Reads recently posted: Top 10 Books that Will Make you Swoon
    1. Also there are legal issues involved. Often a publisher from another country isn’t legally allowed to send an ARC to someone in a different country. This is due to licensing issues.

  6. Yeah, I think at this point I definitely prefer eARCs. I have requested a few physical ARCs when a book isn’t available as an eARC(some I’ve gotten, some not–maybe about 50%? But I think I’ve only requested maybe 3 or 4 physical copies), but if the eARC is available, it’s just so much more convenient, especially since I have an eReader. I think if I didn’t have a kindle, though, I’d definitely prefer physical, since I find it hard to read on a computer or my phone for extended periods of time. And I do find it easier to remember to read physical ARCs(since they basically stare me down!), but at this point, it’s a matter of shelf space.

  7. Physical ARCs have definitely lost their appeal for me. The only big thing about them for me is that I don’t strain my eyes on my tablet’s screen. It’s not an ereader so the glare and brightness hurts my eyes. I’m grateful for it though so I can read any ebook format. I have definitely stopped requesting physical ARCs and have gotten used to e-ARCs which I prefer because now I can just delete it.

    I donate ARCs to fellow book bloggers or my friends who are notorious readers. I tell them to pass the book on so others can read it. Hopefully the books are shared and not sitting on someone’s shelf. I also do random giveaways so I can clear them away. I don’t mind shipping them out because I’d rather get people to read them then have them sitting gathering dust on my bookshelf.

    Giselle @ Book Nerd recently posted: Blog Tour: Archetype by M.D. Waters Review
  8. I don’t request to many physical ARC’s but I am on some mailing list and now and then I will receive some unsolicited ones, some I am like OHH COOL and others it’s like uh okay. I still love my print books, but since I don’t live in a mansion that I can dedicate a huge room to books and have my own lovely library I have taken to more eARC’s.

    I also know I am more likely to get what I want in eARC form than in physical copy form. 🙂

    Stormi recently posted: It’s Monday! What are you reading!
  9. I teach high school so I bring all my YA ARCs to school and put them on my classroom bookshelf or pass them along to other teachers. See if your local HS will take those ARCs. I’ve also donated to women’s shelters (they have teens in there, too). Children’s wings of hospitals usually take books, too.

    Mary @ BookSwarm recently posted: Top Off Tuesday: Pirate in a kilt
  10. I prefer the eARCs for two reasons. 1. I read better and faster on my kindle than I do with a real book. I’ve always had really bad dyslexia, but over the years I have learned to get around it, because you can’t be a book lover and not find a way to kick dyslexia’s butt. With a physical book, I have to adjust the book with every page, with my kindle, I can stay in one spot and only let my eyes move for chapters at a time until I have to wiggle. It allows me to read quickly without needing a bookmark or an uncomfy chair to sit in to make it easier on myself. And 2. eARCs are faster. I don’t have to wait for the post with them, so the only thing putting me back is my laziness to either turn on my kindle’s wifi to download them, or grabbing my cord to transfer them over the old fashion way. I’m a total mood reader, so timing is everything. If the books isn’t right there and I suddenly feel like reading it, it could be weeks before I feel like it again. My mood readingness is why I had to stop offering completion dates for reviews. I found myself having to force myself to read things to make the deadline, and I just can’t do that.

    So sure, ARCs are pretty and getting a parcel in the post makes you feel totally special, but they just take up space on my already too tiny bookshelves. I would rather take the eARCs any day.

  11. Great post, Ashley! I think physical ARCs have lost their appeal…but, for me, not in the ways you mentioned. I can’t get eARCs because I don’t have an e-reader, so the only ARCs I am able to receive are physical. When I first started blogging this felt SO exciting – ‘Wow, publishers are sending me early copies of books?!’ – but now it’s just…not exciting. Maybe this is the sign of a blogging slump. Who knows. I don’t request ARCs anymore, although some get sent to me anyway. Maybe they’re not exciting for me anymore because it’s just more pressure? This post has definitely given me something to think about.

    According to Twitter, it’s okay to give physical ARCs to charity shops but I’m not entirely sure about that and it doesn’t seem right to me. A few weeks ago I did a huge give away on my blog with some ARCs where it was first come/first served, and if someone wanted a certain book from my list they could have it…as long as they paid postage and packaging (I wouldn’t be able to afford to send them all myself!) It was very time consuming sorting out payment and packaging them all (there were over 50 books) but a nice feeling to be giving them to fellow readers. 🙂

    Amber @ The Mile Long Bookshelf recently posted: Divergent by Veronica Roth
    1. I’m not sure it would be okay to give ARCs to charity shops. I mean, I imagine us giving them away is fine.. but then the problem is that you’re not allowed to sell ARCs, and that’s what the charity shops would be doing once they get them?

      It’s all so confusing!

      The idea of giving away ARCs but having the recipients pay for postage is a good idea!

  12. I’ve tried contacting publishers and only one got back to me. Thankfully it’s a small publisher, so there’s not a TON of amazing titles coming out all of the time, so I’m never overwhelmed by them. I can read them right away and then I put them up on ARCycling in hopes that someone else wants them and they won’t be taking up precious shelf space.

    Like you, I learned that I prefer eARCs. I have on tiny bookshelf which is full to the brim, so I’d have nowhere to store them before/after reading. Plus I don’t want to constantly be mailing out books on my unemployed salary ($0!!!). And I just prefer reading on my Kindle than having to hold a physical book.

  13. This is an interesting topic, Ashley, and I find myself somewhat on both sides of your situation. I prefer reading physical books whenever possible, so I still very much like the option of a physical ARC over an eARC. Ever since I got a Kindle last year, I have enjoyed the convenience of NetGalley and Edelweiss, but I have also found that eARCs are often less polished or are formatted in such a way that reading them on my Kindle can be awkward.

    Not everyone has access to an ereader (or even a smartphone), so eARCs aren’t always a great option. Sure, you can read them on your computer, but that’s not ideal, imo. I do agree that it’s more convenient for traveling, but if you don’t have one… =/

    As for what to do with the physical ARCs later? I completely agree. My sister gets a LOT of ARCs in the mail (she’s one of those who doesn’t have an ereader), and she often ends up buying the hardcover later, and passing her ARC on to me. But what do we do with the ARC if we BOTH buy a hardcover, or if I don’t want to read that one, etc.? So far I’ve only offered them up for trade, because I don’t know what else to do with them. I could check with my local libraries and see if they accept them.

    Klley (Another Novel Read) recently posted: The Unbound | Crossword Puzzle and Blog Tour Giveaway!
  14. I love my Kindle and reading books on it. With that said, I have read a lot of e-ARCs that have horrible formatting. With physical ARCs, I am guaranteed that the formatting won’t be wonky. When I first started book blogging, NG and EW were great. Recently, however, I have started contacting publishers for ARCs, because the books I want to read don’t seem to be available for review. My luck has been about 50/50, but I am typically requesting niche SF&F books. 🙂

    I am stuck with a few physical ARCs that I have no interest in keeping. I asked at my public library what they do with their ARCs. They told me that they sell them at their annual sale. They said they would accept my ARCs; however, I told them that I felt uncomfortable with that. I am going to look into donating them to a women’s shelter or a local school.

  15. I think they have sort of fallen out of favor in terms of ARCs, because I prefer e over physical. I would LOVE to get physical versions of all the ARCs I get, but then I’d be drowning in books. E-ARCs are easier to read and you don’t have them lingering around once you’re done to have to find out where to donate or give them away. They’re easier to carry on a trip/etc, and publishers are a little more willing to give an E-ARC out than a physical. I don’t know the cost that goes into e-ARCs but I know physical ones cost a lot so I think they’re probably grateful for this shift, too!

    That said if I LOVE a book, I still want to own a physical copy. <3

  16. WHOA this is funny. I was gonna do a discussion on this exact topic soon! You beat me too it! Haha. I love your thoughts as well. That’s how it looks to me! I honestly only really want Physical ARC’s for books I’m really excited for. I only request or receive them from publishers I have good standings with and I know will work with me on that. If not, then I’m fine with e-ARCS. I admit I can still get a drizzle of Jelly when I don’t get lots of physical ARCS, but I get so many on my kindle and in a way they are better, especially if not ones I’m dying for. I do love being able to breeze through kindle ARCs as well. 😀

    ANYWAY. Hopefully that Mumbo Jumbo makes some sense. 😀
    Xoxo, Inky

    Inky recently posted: Is Book Buying Really A Problem?
  17. I totally agree! The location thing isn’t as big of an issue for me because I don’t move around that often, but I can see how that’s an issue for you. I honestly don’t get very excited for physical books anymore because it’s kind of like that a physical book puts more pressure on me to deliver a good review and I feel worse if it’s not a good one. Also NG and EW have whatever I want to read so it’s so much easier in my opinion. Thanks for sharing, Ashley! <33

    Eileen @ Singing and Reading in the Rain recently posted: Top Ten Tuesday (1): Swoon-Worthy Books
  18. I’ve only ever received one ARC from a Goodreads giveaway so I’m not an expert, and being still quite new/never having had print ARCs before, they still hold a bit of excitement for me. But logically speaking, I’m perfectly fine with eARCs, and I wouldn’t be upset if I never receive another print ARC. I mainly read on my Kobo anyway due to a lack of space (I only ever buy physical copies of my favourite books) and print ARCs would make that issue worse. If I did receive print ARCs I’d have to give them away because of that, but then the shipping costs would be huge!

    Nikki @ The Paper Sea recently posted: Looking Back at January
  19. I’ve never requested physical ARCs, since I read so many tips about waiting at least six months since you started blogging. I finally passed that point, but now I don’t think I will request them. My NetGalley ratio is finally up, and I receive most of the eARCs I request. Plus, a friend sent me an ARC so I could read it, and I fell in love with the book so now I want a pretty finished copy, and I’m running into that “no shelf space” problem!

    Sometimes I get a bit jealous of the bloggers who get physical ARCs, because those books sometimes aren’t on NG, but I think I’ve decided not to request now. It just seems like a hassle! And throwing away books? The horror!

    Kayla @ The Thousand Lives recently posted: Top Ten Books to Make Me Swoon
  20. I have yet to get (or request) a physical ARC so I guess I can’t really speak from experience. I have done a lot of moving though, so I get how hard it is to move books around and how convenient that eReader can be. I do like to hang on to books I love, but I’m ok with going out and purchasing those. So I guess that’s probably why I haven’t really requested any ARCs, I’m not dying to get them. I would happily accept though. 🙂

    Berls @ Fantasy is More Fun recently posted: True Fate by Shayna Varadeaux | Book Blitz
  21. I really have no reason to request ARCs. The only ARC I’ve received was Cress by Marissa Meyer, and I received it as a gift. Now, I have NO idea what to do with the ARC, especially because I bought the finished copy (which I would do with ANY ARC I really enjoyed/author I support). I think ARCs are cool, but like you I would much rather have them on my Kindle. I’m also not really into requesting ARCs because I have so many books that I already own and want to read, and although there are books that interest me, they don’t interest me enough to want ARCs of. Especially physical ARCs. Cool topic!

  22. I’m still very much a fan of physical ARCs or finished copies because eARCs are proving to have a lot of headaches for me. I had a heartattack the first time I got accepted and realized there wasn’t a “send to kindle” option on NetGalley. Then I switched to kobo since it was time and now when I download an eARC and it is a pdf, I start hitting my head against the desk. Sometimes converting to epub is possible and sometimes it isn’t. There are just so many little things that can go wrong with eARCs that I prefer having a physical copy that I know I won’t have to worry about not being able to read for one reason or another :-/

    Anya recently posted: Way of Kings Read-Along {Week 7}
    1. There is a “Send to Kindle” option on NetGalley now, at least. 🙂 That’s assuming the publisher has uploaded a MOBI version of the ebook.

      I recommend Calibre for converting ebook files!

      1. Most books have that button but there are some that don’t. Macmillan tends to not have Mobi options since they are apparently rather anti-Amazon.

        I use calibre for converting but sometimes there are DRM problems and converting from pdf to epub can get some crazy formatting problems (like pages of line numbers) and for some reason my kobo kind of freaks out on those and gets really slow turning the pages. Such a headache, haha.

  23. I do still send some physical ARC requests – though it’s usually for those books that are not on EW or Netgalley like most Penguin books and Random House and a few others. If it’s on Netgalley or Ew I won’t bother though I don’t need both formats. I also usually don’t send requests technically, in Canada a lot of the pubs send us a newsletter with available ARcs and we just reply with the ones we want so it’s not always me hunting them down to email a request – which is nice. I do prefer reading a print book over an eBook – ARC or not. Also, I give priority to physical ARCs if/when I have to skip some due to scheduling or whatever. When I’m done with them I either give them to my cousin who’s also a book nerd, or I keep them on my shelves. I’m building a house next year with a room that will have a built-in bookshelf that spans a whole wall so I will have tons of room (at least for a few months haha).

  24. Scrolling through the comments, it most definitely looks like I’m in the minority. I actually prefer ARC’s over eARC’s, because I still like reading real books over e-books. And I must admit that ARC’s are still fascinating and awesome to me. The fact that I get those books, especially as an international, feels good 🙂 I love reading books on my Kobo, but when it comes down to choosing I think I need to go with physical.

    Mel@thedailyprophecy recently posted: First impression: Literally.
  25. I have a bunch of physical ARCs in my room and I just realize how much I don’t care for them. I’d rather have finished copies and a lot of the time, I hate the book. I’ve got Panic and The Paradox of Vertical Flight sitting in my closet because no one I know wants them. Not because they’re bad; but because they’re ARCs.

    So yeah, I get it! I love eARCs,unless they’re badly formatted which KILLS me. That’s the only upside to physical ARCs.

    Nova Lee @ Out of Time recently posted: Blog Tour Review: My Date From Hell - Tellulah Darling
  26. For indie authors (that I haven’t worked with), I require them to send me a paperback review copy. I read about 2 physical books to every 1 ebook, but my reasoning for this shift is a little more simple. I got way too many requests before the shift and often from people who didn’t even bother properly editing their book. If an indie author is willing to spend the money to ship me a copy of their book then they are also very likely to have spent the money refining their book. I ended up accepting a book review request that I normally wouldn’t have because of the genre…and I loved it! It was very well edited, the narrative had great personality, and I need to still write my review…lol.

    Lizzy recently posted: A little bit about me…my job
  27. Hmm I’m not sure if it lost appeal, but like you, I prefer e-arcs just because it’s convenient and if e-arcs didn’t exist, I’d probably be suffocated by all the books in my room haha. I also like e-arcs than physical copies because it’s easier for me to read them, plus, I read faster with an e-book. My Nook also weighs less compared to a physical book so it’s more comfy for me to read an e-book than a physical copy.

    Leigh @ Little Book Star recently posted: Favorite and Least Favorite Posts {Discuss #11}
  28. I still enjoy getting physical ARCs because there’s still something alluring about them, but I do agree that they’re losing their appeal. Sometimes I prefer to read eARCs because it’s convenient – it’s much easier to carry around my Kindle than an ARC. I can’t put it in my purse because it would mess up the pages! Also, if I liked the book enough to buy a final copy, I have to get rid of the ARC. If I wait too long to read it and it’s been released by the time I go to get rid of it, nobody wants it. I can do a giveaway, sure, but that’s costing me shipping money. If I don’t plan to buy a final copy I usually keep it, but the big red date stamp on the side doesn’t look very pretty, so they don’t look that great on my shelf.

    Jessi @ Novel Heartbeat recently posted: Review: Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi
  29. As an Asian blogger, I’ve very little experience with physical ARCs but that experience was enough for me to know that I’m not much for physical ARCs. I’ve lots of experience with getting eARCs and because I can be a huge procrastinator, it’d never work for me to get physical ARCs.

    Firstly because I’d feel guilty about getting them and not getting around to reading them and then feeling an obligation to review it even if I don’t want to. Secondly, I’ve been gravitating more and more towards eBooks and have been planning to buy physical copies of books that are my favorites. I’m a book hoarder but I’d feel much better if they’re all eBooks and not physical ones. Also, I somehow think that if I buy a print book and don’t end up liking it, it’s just a waste of paper and I hate wasting. Sure, I could sell it but that’s a whole another story. Thirdly, I’ll be buying an ereader soon so that I can finally stop reading on my laptop like a crazy person and when I do, eARCs will be that much more welcoming to read.

    Sana @ artsy musings of a bibliophile recently posted: The Musing Mind: Why Serial Distress is the Worst
  30. I definitely was excited to get physical ARCs when I first started and for certain books, I sill get excited. But, digital ARCs are so much more convenient.

    When it comes to disposing of physical ARCs, there are options: donate to library staff for their usage; donate to hospitals and shelters; give away on the blog, though postage can get expensive; or pass on to other bloggers, friends or family.

    I received a physical ARC last week of a book I’m excited about and I was happy to get it, but yes, for the most part I prefer digital ARCs, whether from NetGalley, Edelweiss, or the author.

    Bea @Bea's Book Nook recently posted: Sunday Book Share #76
  31. I by far prefer physical ARCs, but I mostly get them through book tour companies or publishers contacting me. I typically don’t mind eARCs enough to go to the trouble of e-mailing a publisher when I could just request a book on netgalley. When I’m done with a physical ARC, I do one of three things with it. If I loved it and could see reading it again, it goes on my shelf and I’m still enough of a newbie blogger that I love seeing ARCs I got sitting there. If I like it, but won’t ever read it again, I pass it on to friends. This is especially fun if I can find a friend who will be excited it’s an ARC 🙂 And if I didn’t like it enough to want to be responsible for a friend reading it, I donate it. I actually feel like eARCs go much more to waste when I’m done with them, because I’m never going to read them again. If I loved the book enough for a re-read, I’d buy a physical copy.

    Katie @ Doing Dewey recently posted: Love For Books Read-athon
  32. I started getting arcs through NG before I started blogging and was just active on GR. I personally prefer getting e-ARCs for the reasons you listed, but if I’m just at home I prefer to read print books. I never request physical copies. I just don’t have the space for them and NG/EW really do put up pretty much everything I’m dying to read, and if they don’t then-like you said-I have plenty of books to tide me over until the book I’m dying for is released. A little anticipation never hurt anybody. Great post!

    Natalie @Natflix&Books recently posted: Discussion Post: Yet Another Series

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