Kelly has a long thoughtful post up at Stacked that I direct you to about the ethics of ARC-grabbing and selling that was partly prompted by activity at the recent ALA midwinter conference. This is not a new situation, it has been present at BEA and ALA in the past and simply seems to have reached new heights of pushiness in Dallas last week but it is something that bloggers need to be thinking about. Namely, when did, in this case, a professional conference where some of the most prestigious awards in publishing are awarded become about getting the biggest pile of free stuff? (And then selling them on Ebay.)
If you doubt me then head on over to google and type in "ALA Midwinter book haul". There are videos folks, not just blog posts with photos of stacks of books but even videos. Of course this should not surprise anyone as publishers have been exhibiting at ALA forever but still, the blatant book grabbing from so many nonlibrarians struck a chord with many attendees. The question has to be asked - is ALA about librarian business or free books obtained for personal profit and further, how did it ever come to this?
Part of this resonates so much with me because I actively try to reduce the number of ARCs that come to me. I prefer to receive only what I can review and I feel very strongly that this is what everyone should be doing. And that's not just some one paragraph summary and an "It was really good" type entry. We're talking an actual thoughtful review. On top of that I have been mightily frustrated for years by how publishers seem to be unwilling to do the work to get in the weeds and understand the good and bad side of book blogging. They need to take the time to hire people whose only jobs are dealing with online media. They need to pay them well so there is no continuous turnover (don't say it can't be done because places like Candlewick & First Second do it brilliantly) and they need to build relationships. They need to invest in learning the lit blogosphere and the sites and bloggers who best fit with their imprints.
But really, I digress.
On the one hand we have been rocked by yet more stories this week of how Amazon is killing publishing and the end of the industry as we know is looming large. On the other hand there are bloggers crowing from one end of the blogosphere to the other about their massive free book hauls from ALA and ARCs are already showing up on Ebay. In the middle are librarians who actually attended meetings at Midwinter and authors who are struggling to see where the return is from all these ARCs being grabbed with wild abandon. Will any of these bloggers do anything other than flash photos of their stacks or hold them up for videos? Is the "number of totes" competition the end goal now?
Fuck, what about reading thoughtfully and writing well and, I don't know, supporting our damn libraries?
So, go read what Kelly (a might fine librarian herself) has to say and join the conversation she has going. It's a worthy topic and well worth discussing.