Random Book Talk – Are ARCs Worth It?

Posted January 24, 2020 by Carole in Discussion, Random Thoughts / 42 Comments

Are ARCs Worth It?

If you follow my blog, you probably already know that I read a lot of ARCs.  I downloaded my first book from NetGalley back in 2013 and haven’t looked back.  I am very grateful to the publishers for every book that they have been kind enough to send my way.

But there are some drawbacks…

  • Added Stress – ARCs can add a lot of stress to my reading schedule.  It can be a real stretch to get books read by the publication date and it doesn’t always happen.  When I don’t get a book read in time, I feel guilty because it seems that I didn’t live up to expectations.
  • Purchased Books are Ignored – This is a big problem for me right now.  I own so many books that I really want to read.  I spent hard-earned money on them and I want to give them the attention they deserve.  I keep buying more books but I read only a few of them simply because I feel like I have to read my giant pile of ARCs instead.  
  • Makes Mood Reading Difficult – I can be a bit of a mood reader.  Years ago, one of my favorite parts of being a reader was picking out a book from my collection after finishing one.  I never had a reading schedule or a plan.  One of the reasons I started the Books from the Backlog feature was so that I have a weekly excuse to browse my shelves.  Because of my review obligations, I often ignore my moods just so I can get a book read by its publication date and I often wonder if I might have liked the book more if I had been in the mood for it.
  • Takes Some of the Fun Out of Reading – I read and blog because I enjoy it.  But there are times where it feels like a job.  A demanding job that I spend a lot of time on and one that is unpaid.  Getting books read and reviews written as close to the publication date as possible takes a lot of effort.  If I didn’t have so many ARCs to fit into the review schedule, I could slow down the pace a bit.  Don’t get me wrong, I love it but it does exhaust me at times.  

There are obviously some pretty big benefits to ARCs as well.  I love that feeling of excitement when I am able to get an early copy of a book that I am desperate to read.  There has been more than one happy dance that has broken out spontaneously when a book arrives on my doorstep or an approval email hits my inbox.  I am really honored to think that anyone even cares about my opinion on some of these books.  
I don’t think that I will stop reading and reviewing ARCS but I am trying to be more mindful when accepting these books.  
What do you think?  Are ARCs worth it to you?

42 responses to “Random Book Talk – Are ARCs Worth It?

  1. I don't read ARC's. I like to read the finished book so if I read an ARC, I'd still need to read the published version to see what changed! That would be a waste of time. I prefer to wait and get the published book. I briefly dabbled in ARC's but the files were often poor quality, and I hated the stress of deadlines. Plus with my monster TBR list, I need to deal with those bad boys first!

  2. Great topic, Carole. I've taken a giant step away from ARCs in the last year or so. There are obvious pros but as you pointed out there are also cons. For me it was a combination of a few of the things you mentioned: taking the fun out of reading (yes, it does feel like an UNPAID job when you are obligated to post a review on a schedule), and I was ignoring all the books on my shelves and my Kindle that I WANTED to be reading. I have a *very* small handful of favorite authors that I will still request from, but otherwise I am so much happier reading from my own shelves. And reading what I want to read, when I want to read it.

  3. Ditto, haha! This could have been me writing the post. I've deliberately been reading half from my shelf and half from my arc and review piles which had made me enjoy reading more than I have been in the last few years. Still have a ways to go, though.

  4. I’ve avoided NetGalley because I have no self-control. I know I’ll request all the books and then regret it. I only accept ARCs when publishers email me directly and offer them. That allows me to have some of the excitement without accidentally overwhelming myself. For me, ARCs mostly aren’t worth the stress.

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

    • I obviously have problems with self-control or I wouldn't be having this problem. I would love to get to a place where I can start reading any ARCs just as soon as I have them so I won't always feel behind.

  5. I agree with everything you have said, Carole. I read A LOT. But my reading has changed as I listen to more audio than reading ebooks now. I didn't listen to audiobooks at all 5 years ago! And I was blogging then. It's also harder to have so many sources as audio books come from multiple publishers whereas most books come from Netgalley or authors. There are a few more I get from publicity teams also.

    The biggest thing is I do read them first and the books I own do just sit, so that is one of my goals this year is to get to the ones I own.

    Anne – Books of My Heart

    • I get some audiobooks for review but not a lot. I am also listening more these days and just don't have as much time as I would like to sit down with a book which is one reason I fall behind. I own so many books that I want to get read!

  6. i bounce all over the place, but it seems i miss a lot of my favorite big name authors trying to keep up with reviews. i have backed off somewhat and will be doing the library love challenge so i can catch up on some of the authors i have missed.
    sherry @ fundinmental

  7. Anonymous

    I have quite a list of ARC's to read but I've been finding some amazing books with Prime Reading and been trying to read some of my own library.

    • I can't remember the last time I was able to actually read anything on Prime but you have found some gems based on your reviews. I do enjoy reading ARCs but I want a chance to mix things up and read from other sources as well.

  8. I so agree! Being a mood reader makes it much harder to stay on track when it comes to ARCS! I constantly find myself changing my mind about my TBR and having an ARC or two thrown into the mix that NEEDS to be read by a certain time can be stressful! Great discussion post 🙂

  9. ARCs are so worth it for me. I read a LOT of book, and I would never be able to afford all the books I read. The eLibrary selection is pretty good, but the wait for a new release is months long. I have been scaling back, in order to show some love to my shelf books and to give myself more wiggle room, and so far, it's really working out for me. I think it was stressful, when I over requested, but I believe a lot of rookies make that mistake, because you don't think they are going to say yes.

    • You are a rock star when it comes to reading, Sam! I guess I am still over requesting and getting more unsolicited books sent to me. I always think I am going to be able to read more than I actually do. I am trying to get these books on my calendar right away so I can see how many I have for any given month.

  10. Carole, I agree with everything you said in your post. When it comes to books I lack self control. So you can imagine what happened when I discovered Netgalley and Edelweiss, failing to recognize the pressure I was putting on myself. I have a lot of purchased books, which I have yet to read and because of ARCS they get neglected. I have been limiting my acceptance of ARCs to authors I have previously read so far it seems to be working.

  11. I only request 5 ARC's from NetGalley at a time. That way I know that I can get them read and reviewed in time. If I get all 5 read and reviewed then I will look for more. I'm pretty particular about what books I request so I usually get books I enjoy so it's easier to read.

  12. I have definitely cut back on ARCs a lot, but I still enjoy them. I have been lucky in that I am not always given a deadline by which to review, because I am a huge mood reader – hence why I always have at least ten books going at once! Once I limited the number of ARCs I requested, it has made things a lot easier on me.

  13. You are right on all accounts. I hardly have any print/e arcs now cos I can't fit in the time to read print.
    I do still accept audio arcs, because well, audiobooks!

  14. I'm a mood reader too, for the most part, so I would have the same problem there. I don't do a lot of ARC's for whatever reason, sometimes I think I should get on Netgalley but I just never know what I'm going to feel like, and to be honest I don't want the pressure either haha! But I totally get why someone would want to keep getting them too- it is such a cool benefit of being a book blogger!

  15. I do think ARCs are worth it, but there definitely is some added stress they bring. I've been trying to find the right balance ever started blogging and nowadays I do a lot better with not requesting too many ARCs and still make time for my bought books as well. But I still have months were then suddenly all the ARCs I want seem to release and then months like this one where I hardly have any ARCs. I also try to be more picky and only request ARCs if I really want to and know I can read them by release day or within a month or two. And like you said it's hard to get to your purchased books at time when you have to give ARCs priority.

  16. I have actually been very particular when it comes to arcs and review copies, and I think being mindful about requesting and reading is the most important part. I mostly only accept when I have time so I don't stress about deadlines and if I miss it I know I will still eventually promote the book so I try not to be hard on myself. I do like free books but I mostly just want to enjoy what I read and share what I read, which is why I am so particular with my choices and requesting. Great post!

  17. ARCs are becoming increasingly problematic for me. I've been cutting them down and getting much more selective but even with these measures I'm still feeling the pressures and the strain.

    I think I've become a much moodier reader and that's part of the problem but only part as I've always been a mood reader… I think the bigger problem is balancing the mood reading with all the other demands of life which have shot up to crazy levels.

    I'm much more inclined now just to wait on the release and read it when I feel like it rather than request the arc. The stress just isn't worth it.

  18. I've cut way back on ARCs but it often still feels impossible to keep up, especially when some books just don't fit my mood. I've allowed myself to get behind in recent months, so I'm trying to go back to being REALLY good about requesting—I tend to go back and forth (I'll be good until I feel a bit more caught up and then I splurge again when it comes to NetGalley). Unsolicited ARCs are awesome, but they do also feel like more of an obligation too!

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

    • I tend to do really good for a long time and then I will have a bad day and request a bunch of books and be right back where I started. I tend to throw the unsolicited in with the other review books and feel obligated with them as well.

  19. Yeah, I was all starry eyed when I first started getting ARCs and then the stress started piling on. The one thing I liked was getting ARCs of high profile books I wanted to read because then I didn't have to buy them. ? I have gotten entire series like the Jackaby books and the Red Rising books from Netgalley. Ha ha. I tried really hard to do more personal reading last year and it worked because it came out about 50/50. ???

    This year I am reading zero ARCs except for the few leftovers I have from last year. Now that I can get a lot of great titles for free from Hoopla the ARC excitement has kind of worn off for me. ?

  20. I waffle back and forth on this question. On one hand it is great getting books early or getting books at all but on the other it keeps me from reading my purchased books. I just closed myself off to submissions again. I should've never reopened. Here's hoping 2020 ends up being a good balance of ARC/personal TBR reading for all of us.