Another Disappointing Headline

December 6th, 2004 · 2 Comments
by Booksquare

We don’t ask much from our online news — frequent updates, intriguing stories, and good headlines. We don’t care that a man is planning to sell his collection of inscribed books, presumably it’s the first sign of incipient madness. They have fairly decent health care in Canada; he should be fine (though why he simply doesn’t get a larger home intrigues us).

What people do in their personal lives is not our concern. Now, what they do with free review copies, that makes us blink and think. In our past, we reviewed books with very official looking language about the book being the property of publisher, etc, etc, etc. And while we didn’t indulge (being lazy is a full-time job), other reviewers have sold their ARCs on eBay. This is, naturally, upsetting to authors (especially those already competing in a used book market gone wild). And publishers can’t be too happy about the sales — we have heard tell of reviewers being cut off without comment when they’re discovered in the act of unloading review copies online.

All of this is our way of saying the Globe and Mail, normally a fine paper, failed us. The headline certainly raises the question of who owns a free review copy. The article looks at the question. But do we get the hard answers we need? No, we get a discussion about a man selling himself (in a manner of speaking) to pay for an addiction. Nice human interest, but nowhere near what we wanted to know.

Who owns a review copy? What is the proper and ethical way to handle their care and feeding? What happens when free books threaten to overrun your home?

  • ‘They are my books’ – Greg Gatenby’s planned sale of his collection raises the issue of who owns free review copies publishers send out for promotion

File Under: Square Pegs

2 responses so far ↓

  • daniel olivas // Dec 6, 2004 at 11:27 pm

    arcs for my last two books ended up for sale on the web. this is a pisser. i was able to buy one back but the other sold too fast…and the asking price was about 50% higher than the finished product! i don’t know what the answer is. i just think it’s a slimeball thing to do to the author and the publisher.

  • booksquare // Dec 7, 2004 at 8:07 pm

    That’s really too bad — and a bit disheartening. I head the same thing from Jill (who is forever banned from checking the number of used books for sale on Amazon — we are totally practicing “What you don’t know…”

    I make it a point to buy used under very strict circumstances (author, very dead; book, very much out of print), and I try to educate others as to why it’s important to buy new. Alas, it’s not easy…