We Need a Legal eARC Lending System

Posted December 20, 2017 by Amber in Bookish Things / 10 Comments

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With all the changes NetGalley and Goodreads are making to their distribution opportunities, the Internet has been outraged.  If you’re on Twitter at all, I’m sure you’ve heard about it.  In short, this is what is happening:

Goodreads
Goodreads is changing its giveaway options to large purchasable packages per book.  These are pretty expensive, and to give away any significant number of books, an author will need to pay an exorbitant amount of money.  Per title.  This makes it unsustainable for independent publishers and self-published authors to distribute their work through that outlet.  It will be more sensible for them to run giveaways on social media, but unfortunately that also means readers are less likely to find them.  It’s terrible for the little guy.

NetGalley
NetGalley is now splitting their service into location based sites.  This means if you are an English blogger but you live in Italy, you can only request books that are listed as available on the Italian version of the site.

This is a huge blow for international bloggers, as most of them read books published in the US or UK (English language books) and they will no longer be eligible to receive eARCs of those novels.  Especially the US, where all the really hot authors are living right now (V.E. Schwab, Rainbow Rowell, Angie Thomas, etc. etc.).  These amazing, well established bloggers are losing the one perk there is to book blogging and promotion: the books.

This totally sucks.

Okay, I get it, as a US blogger I have no right to a voice in this because I am a US blogger.  Privileged American white lady over here waving the flag.  How many of you follow Paper Fury?  A Whisper of Ink?  The Writing Hufflepuff?  These ladies are located in Australia, the UK, and the Netherlands respectively.

THEY ARE LOSING ACCESS TO AWESOME BOOKS.*

*Well, technically they can “wish” for the book, but lets be real, what are the odds of the Blue Fairy coming down and turning someone into a real boy?

This is why I want to propose a legal, eARC lending system.

Please note:  I have no power to make this happen, or coding experience to create an app – I just think it’s a really good idea.

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Here’s how it would work

How many of you are familiar with Overdrive?  Overdrive is a library resource that allows people to borrow an eBook or audiobook from their local library for 7 or 14 days.  The libraries pay for the digital licenses through Overdrive, and after your lending period, the system automatically yanks the book back from you.

Kindle lending works about the same way.

Why can’t there be an app that does that with eARCs?

I understand that we as readers like to wait until close to the release date to review our ARCs (I received Tess of the Road months ago and haven’t touched it because I know it’s not out until February), but honestly wouldn’t getting a book a few months before its release date be better than NOT getting the book?  This works well for both the publisher and the readers/bloggers.

Scenario:

Lets say Cool Publisher wants to give away 10 eARCs of The Best Book Ever.  Each of those eArcs is assigned a digital license, making them legal.  Cool Publisher lists these eARCs on the eARC site and approves 10 requests of eager readers.

14 days later, all 10 eARCs are returned to the database and can be released to 10 more readers.  And over and over again until the book’s release date and the title is pulled. (If Cool Publisher is really cool they could donate these eArc licenses to a library).

As a result of this system, the 10 available copies have gone out to 60 different readers, leaving the opportunity for 60 glowing reviews.  Under the current system, this would only go to 10.  Also, as a plus to the publisher, nobody OWNS these books now, so if the readers loved them as much as they claimed, they’ll go out and buy them.  More money for the publisher.

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I’m going to jump in here and counter a couple popular arguments on the matter:

  1. eBook Piracy.  This is exactly why there would need to be an app or website like Overdrive to manage this.  If we were sending PDFs to one another, of course the publisher would have concerns!
  2. We don’t get to keep the books.  Okay in all reality, how many of us go back and re-read our eARCs?  For myself, I know if I really like one, I’ll buy it in hardcopy.  I’m more likely to hoard my physical ARCs (which, by the way, we are perfectly legally allowed to give one another… just not sell).
  3. Not enough time to read all the ARCs!  I totally understand the concern on this one.  I’m just saying, wouldn’t it be better to have an opportunity to read it than none at all?

That’s all I can think of for arguments right now.

Let’s fight it out in the comments!

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Why is this the worst idea ever?

Do you think it would work?

What would you tweak?
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10 responses to “We Need a Legal eARC Lending System

  1. This. Has. To. Be. Done.

    I definitely agree on the need for this, as an international book blogger, and appreciate the fact that a US blogger is thinking about this and trying to fix the whole ARC issue <3 Overdrive is the perfect thing for this and it can work effectively for the entire idea. This would definitely work, let's gather people and let's do this! 😀

    • Amber

      I agree! Most of the blogs I really like are run by international bloggers and I don’t like to see them losing access. :/ I have NO idea where to begin or what contacts I would need for something like this, but I feel like EVERYONE benefits?

    • Amber

      It is terrible, honestly. 🙁

      If you want to read a really good post about the problem specifically, you should check out The Book Corps’ open Letter post! Laura goes into much more detail about the program changes on both sides than I do, and loads of technical reasons why it benefits basically nobody… so infuriating.

  2. This is actually a really great idea! There isn’t a Chinese version of Netgalley though, so I’m still using the international version. The probability of non-US based bloggers receiving physical ARCs is close to 0%. I love this post! <3
    (Also, I know nothing about Overdrive? I just did some research and found out their services are not available in my region. :()
    GOALS FOR 2018: MAKE THIS HAPPEN.

    • Amber

      Auuugh, that’s such a bummer that you can’t use Overdrive. I know it’s region and Library dependent, but I believe it’s not US exclusive? It’s really great though.

      It’s sad that the probability of non-US bloggers getting eARCs is dropping really fast, too. Though I’m with you – I’d prefer the hardcopies. :). English is a universal language and these books have audiences all over the world… they’ll gain popularity better with spokespeople like bloggers to talk them up!

  3. This sounds like SUCH a good idea. I did contemplate getting ARCs for a while, but I was reading on Paper Fury about these new things and, I live in Australia too, so it just seemed too hard. But I would definitely get on board if they set up a system like this!
    I love Overdrive and use it heaps, so something similar would work really well, I think. ;D

    • Amber

      Getting ARCs isn’t easy to begin with, and now with the new restrictions, it just feels futile.

      OMG isn’t Overdrive THE BEST?! I was so excited when I learned it wasn’t just US based, too.