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Topic: Policy Change Regarding ARCs at PaperBackSwap

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Subject: Policy Change Regarding ARCs at PaperBackSwap
Date Posted: 8/31/2017 8:32 AM ET
Member Since: 7/17/2005
Posts: 338
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As of Sept 1, 2017, ARCs are no longer swappable in any way at PaperBackSwap.

The ARC swapping thread in the Book Bazaar has been removed.  We thank Amanda S (ABCatHome) for her diligent work managing the thread!

The reason for this policy change is that ARCs are copies for which the author/publisher was not paid -- they are intended for reviewers and other "advance readers", and were not intended to reach general readers or replace book purchases.

Why now? We decided on this policy change because over time ARC trading had become very common in the Book Bazaar, and the effect on authors could no longer be considered negligible.

  • PaperBackSwap does not intend to cheat authors of payment for their hard work!
  • We know members don't want to cheat authors either -- many members may not have realized (as we didn't, until we saw the volume of ARCs being traded, and gave it some thought) that circulating ARCs does that.

How ARCs differ from swapping of "regular" used books:

  • Their content is different
    • ARCs are not final copies of books (they may contain typos or content that is changed in the final version)
    • The "regular" used book is the final version
  • Authors were not paid for ARCs
    • ARCs are distributed only to advance readers -- influencers or reviewers -- and the publisher and author are NOT paid for these copies. They were not intended for general circulation.
    • "Regular" used books -- these copies were sold, and authors were paid for those sales.

ARCs are also known as "review copies" - "Advance Reader Copies" - "Advance Copies" - "Uncorrected Proofs" - "Galleys" and so on.

Amanda S. (ABCatHome) has suggested some publisher-sanctioned uses for ARCs:

  • Donating: To a school library, or to a prison (where families are often not allowed to give books to prisoners), or to Books for Soldiers.
  • Blog ARC Giveaways: this is our favorite option, as it benefits the authors and is in keeping with the original purpose of ARCs:
    • Get your ARCs to bloggers/influencers, who can blog/post about the book and the author and do an ARC giveaway.
    • ARC giveaways are good for both the author and the blogger, and most publishers are OK with that re-use of ARCs.

ABCatHome has kindly offered to discuss the policy change  with members who need to know more.

Date Posted: 9/1/2017 8:18 PM ET
Member Since: 4/28/2009
Posts: 10,541
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I totally agree with protecting authors' rights to payment.  Thanks for the clear explanation!

Date Posted: 9/1/2017 10:05 PM ET
Member Since: 2/12/2006
Posts: 4,697
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I agree - I was totally unaware that authors received NOTHING for them.  I know they regularly provide a few free copies to use as door prizes or for drawings when they do book signings - but that's (they hope) good advertising - and ones they no doubt HAVE been paid for... 

Date Posted: 9/2/2017 3:58 PM ET
Member Since: 8/24/2006
Posts: 361
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Am I the only one scratching my head at the reasoning behind this decision?

We can't swap ARCs because authors don't get paid for ARCS and Paperbackswap doesn't want to cheat authors out of payment for their hard work?

Paperbackswap exists (or did originally before all the trying to get us to buy the books started), so that members could swap books and not have to buy them. Authors get money for that original book purchase but all the swaps that occur afterwards they get nothing from, because we are all swapping the books (probably many times over) instead of buying a copy.

If you're receiving a book from PBS through a swap, the author is getting nothing from you anyway. Unless PBS stops all trading and goes just to selling books in the PBS market, they are already "cheating authors out of payment for their hard work" by the very nature of the website.

Just saying ARCs aren't tradeable now would have been sufficient. Trying to justify it by giving that reasoning makes no sense, unless they think the membership is under the impression that authors receive anything from the books we are swapping.


Date Posted: 9/2/2017 7:22 PM ET
Member Since: 2/5/2005
Posts: 26
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I see this from a different point.

I know that I read a lot of ARC's. I get them from a number of places, including publishing houses and directly from authors. I also know that I have purchased a number of books due to having read an earlier ARC. I have been introduced to a vast number of authors through ARC's. I may read an ARC by a particular unknown author, but when I see that author has a new book,  I will  purchase that new book, since having already been introduced to that author, through that previous ARC, I know I like that author. Had I not gotten an earlier ARC I would never have considered buying that later book. That author would have remained unknown to me. I will agree, that does not happen with every ARC I read, however it does happen frequently.

The other advantage of reading ARC's is the publicity - which is their main reason for being published. When I read an ARC I review that ARC in a number of different places. That is putting the word out about that book to people who might have overlooked it when they went to purcase their next read. This not only brings the book to new light, but also the author. Which may not have monetary value, but is very valuable to that author.

I do believe that PBS has been advantagous in helping to spread the word about new authors and new books through the ARC swap thread. The more reviews and publicity given to an ARC the more well known an author becomes and the larger chance that their released book will do well. I would hope that most readers of ARC's understand the reasoning behind why it was published in the first place and will do their best to get the word out about any ARC they read.

I am very sorry to see this thread stopped. Please reconsider.

Thank you


Date Posted: 9/3/2017 1:14 AM ET
Member Since: 9/22/2014
Posts: 328
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I'm with Emma and TakingTime. The same logic could be applied to ALL book swaps on PBS. Also, the entire point of ARCs is to generate buzz about the books. The goal of authors/publishers is to get ARCs in the hands of avid readers which is what the PBS community is - people who live, breathe, and talk books. PBS members read more books than the general public - enough to trade their old books for new (to them) ones. PBS members also love to talk about books and often give books as gifts to friends and family. People who are willing to read ARCs instead of waiting on the finished copy are especially passionate readers. Sending ARCs to prisons and schools doesn't generate buzz or sales. Getting ARCs into the hands of avid readers does generate sales. Additionally, because ARCs are not the same as finished books many ARC swappers swap 3-4 ARCs per credit instead of 1 which means members  are more open to trying new authors or genres since the swap is a better deal. Anyone who has ever been to a book festival or conference knows that many authors/publishers will chase after you or beg you to take their book and give it a read even if you tell them it really isn't your sort of book/genre. Because they know you're passionate about books (enough to attend a festival/conference) they want you to read it since it's the best chance of word spreading about the book to generate sales. I think we do authors and publishers a disservice by either discarding ARCs or sending them to places (prisons/schools) where they generate neither buzz nor sales instead of sending them on to avid readers who perhaps discover a new favorite author of buy copies of a finished book as gifts for friends and family. 

Date Posted: 9/3/2017 9:48 AM ET
Member Since: 5/8/2007
Posts: 2,692
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Emma, Taking Time, and Gina have excellent discussions regarding ARC.  I agree completely.  I have received 3 ARC's from authors I had never heard of and have since started buying/reading their other books.

Date Posted: 9/3/2017 10:29 PM ET
Member Since: 2/4/2011
Posts: 283
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I too don't really understand the reasoning behind ending ARC trading. Authors are not getting money from the books we trade over and over again. And the publishers and authors willingly give out tons of copies of the books. I know that Nora Roberts' new publisher gave away somewhere around a million copies of her newest book and I believe they were mostly arcs. Did paperbacks swap contact publishers and authors to see what thier point of view was. If the publishers are ok with it I think we should continue swapping arcs.

Date Posted: 9/4/2017 5:11 PM ET
Member Since: 7/26/2007
Posts: 11,511
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I was about to come in and make Carly's point ... Author's only recieve payment for books bought NEW.  If you buy used , trade or check out a book from the library .. they get nothing beyond the inital NEW  sale. Which I belive I read was somwhere around 10%  on average for a DTB/ (( someone can check this))  I'm not so sure PBS has the high ground here.


Last Edited on: 9/4/17 5:14 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 9/8/2017 7:36 AM ET
Member Since: 8/21/2008
Posts: 762
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I agree with Emma C, Taking Time, and Gina.

Love the ARC's and wish you would reconsider.  I'm in my mid-seventies and find the size of the arc's helpful.  The small print in mass paperbacks is too small for me and while I like hardcovers, they are heavier and more awkward to carry around.

The site is for trading used books, not as a source of income for authors.



Date Posted: 9/8/2017 11:04 AM ET
Member Since: 6/2/2014
Posts: 13,199
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I don't know but do you pay for arcs at all or are they always free? Maybe it has to do with you by a book so the author gets something but with an arc they get nothing ta all? I dont know but someone told me the author gives them out and they dont get paid at all for them.

Date Posted: 9/8/2017 1:20 PM ET
Member Since: 4/20/2006
Posts: 5,754
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They are always free, at least they have been in my experience. Unless PBS says otherwise, I assume that it is okay to give them away here. I remember a time when you could only offer them up like you do other unpostable books, for example, have a deal where you give one away with the order of two books from your shelf or whatever. You just can't ask for credits for them anymore.

Date Posted: 9/8/2017 4:26 PM ET
Member Since: 1/25/2010
Posts: 3,096
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I sent an e-mail to TPTB a few days ago asking if we can still give them away but haven't heard back yet.

Date Posted: 9/8/2017 4:37 PM ET
Member Since: 4/20/2006
Posts: 5,754
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Date Posted: 9/10/2017 8:34 PM ET
Member Since: 8/16/2007
Posts: 15,230
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Unless PBS says otherwise, I assume that it is okay to give them away here. 

I would assume ARCs cannot be given away unless PBS says otherwise. The post says they are "no longer swappable in any way at PaperBackSwap" ..."were not intended to reach general readers or replace book purchases"  which sounds to me like they cannot be on the site at all, they don't want to contribute to them replacing people reading paid-for books. 

Date Posted: 9/11/2017 5:53 PM ET
Member Since: 1/25/2010
Posts: 3,096
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Just got the answer back from TPTB in regards to even giving away ARCs (I bolded the extra pertinent bit):

Thanks for writing in to ask about this. ARCs are not permitted at all, since their circulation (unless done as part of a publicity/promotion campaign) deprives authors of payment for their work. Authors are NOT paid for ARCs. We're hoping that members will funnel their ARCs to bloggers or other promotional sites, to be used as giveaways. The publicity of the blogger posting about the book/author offsets the loss of a book sale that otherwise would "cheat" the author.
We hope this information helps clarify. Have a great day!
Date Posted: 9/11/2017 8:55 PM ET
Member Since: 4/20/2006
Posts: 5,754
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Thanks for sharing. Yeah, I don't buy the whole "not paid for their work" thing either since authors aren't being paid at all when books gets swapped on here. PBS is making money and we're saving money but the authors are getting diddly. Stopping the giving away of ARCs is not altruistic, especially when no credits are involved.  I'll just keep putting them in my LFL and donating them to the library. They sell them at the FOL sale and use the money to purchase new books.

Date Posted: 9/13/2017 10:24 PM ET
Member Since: 9/18/2005
Posts: 6,991
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I know several are hoping for them to reconsider, but they will not.  If you can find another place for them (like Amanda (RockStarGirl) mentioned), you are still getting circulation for your favorite authors!  If you have any other questions or concerns please feel free to message me.

Date Posted: 9/21/2017 2:38 AM ET
Member Since: 5/9/2016
Posts: 17
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I really don't like that we can't trade arcs amongst ourselves anymore. I think it's ridiculous, because arcs generate buzz, and help people discover new authors that they might not have known about before. Specifically, I will get arcs from peopel when i'm unsure if I WANT to pay money for a book, and then 9 times out of 10, i end up discovering an author that i might have passed up otherwise, which leads to me reading and buying more of their books.


On another note, those of us who are book collectors, like me, actually prefer arcs, as they are more rare than mass published books, and the authors still make money, because i pay to go to events to get my arcs signed, and in many cases, the signing fee goes DIRECTLY 100% to the author, whereas the the author only sees part of the money from a book purchase, because the publishers and everyone else have to take their cut too.


FURTHER, unless they're self published books, most authors don't get paid per book sold. They have contracts, and make a set amount of money, for selling the rights to the book to a publisher. 


And lastly, this makes NO SENSE! authors don't get automatic royalties anytime a used book of theirs is sold anywhere in the world. That's not how it works. arcs are no different than any other used book in that they are bought and sold and whatever AFTER the book has initially been paid for, and this entire site is for used books. So none of this logic makes any freaking sense.


Please bring the arcs back, or at least allow us to list them someplace so we can give them away to those who might want them,.

Subject: ARC logic illogical
Date Posted: 9/22/2017 7:53 AM ET
Member Since: 8/27/2006
Posts: 121
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I agree with everyone who fails to see the logic in banning arcs.  It makes no sense.

Date Posted: 10/3/2017 2:20 AM ET
Member Since: 8/16/2007
Posts: 15,230
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Date Posted: 10/15/2017 12:27 AM ET
Member Since: 4/24/2010
Posts: 13
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I just found this because I wanted to add a book to my ARC list for trade. Yeah, you don't have much of a leg to stand on saying you disallow ARC trading because it robs authors of payment for their books when this site is dedicated to the free swapping of used books in exchange for shipping costs only. This entire site is set up to rob authors of payment for their books by encouraging people to obtain them used and for free instead of going out and buying them new. You do realize that encouraging people to have giveaways on book sites is doing the exact thing you're discouraging here, putting it into the hands of general readers? Because that's who reads blogs. You're encouraging people to do the same exact thing that was being done here, just somewhere else and using a random number generator. I know I'm just ranting into the void at this point, but this is just dumb. It really is.

I'm wondering if PBS was contacted by a publisher (or multiple publishers) regarding the credit exchange for ARCs. Because those credits do actually have monitary value, and ARCs can't be sold, so the exchange of credits for ARCs can be construed as purchase, even if it's at a deeply discounted rate, and ARCs were never intended to be sold since they're unfinished copies. If that's the case just say it. Don't use some nonsensical reason and encourage people to effectively go do it somewhere else. Publishers want word of mouth on their books. My credentials as an "influencer" aren't weighed when I go to Book Expo America and publishers literally shove random ARCs into my hands because they want me to read it. They don't care who reads it, as long as it gets read.

Date Posted: 10/16/2017 3:32 PM ET
Member Since: 6/21/2008
Posts: 6,581
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I support no longer allowing ARCs.  I hate it when I receive them and don't appreciate an unfinished, unproofed, uncorrected book.  Thanks, PBS.



Date Posted: 10/31/2017 1:37 PM ET
Member Since: 8/16/2007
Posts: 15,230
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Date Posted: 11/8/2017 1:13 PM ET
Member Since: 5/19/2006
Posts: 861
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I just came across this thread when I was preparing to add a book to the ARC swap.  I never minded using a credit for an ARC but I do not appreciate going to a used bookstore or a library sale and paying for such a copy.  That is illegal and all ARCS/ UNCORRECTED PROOFS ETC say NOT FOR SALE right on the cover!  Let's reinstate our swapping of them since we take no money for them.  I realize that it costs something to get a credit, but hey!   Perhaps offer them free with an order from your bookshelf?