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