Thoughts for Thursday (15) - The Not-So-Glamorous Side of ARCs

Welcome to Thoughts for Thursday! This feature is our outlet to talk with you about whatever we currently have on our minds. It might be bookish, it might not! Now for this week's thought:

The Not-So-Glamorous Side of ARCs

First things first – I am no expert on ARCs. My experience with ARCs only extends as far as my hauls from BEA, ALAMW, and the few approvals I received on EW. I am just thinking out loud here from my limited experience and some observations I’ve made over the past year. I wanted to have this discussion because I’ve been curious and I don’t think it’s been had before. Again, I am just musing! So without further ado…

Advanced Reader Copies, or ARCs, are a thing of much envy in the blogosphere. Everyone wants them. Not only is it exciting to get an early copy of a book that you’ve been eagerly awaiting and to help promote an authors work but being among the first reviewers could also help bring traffic to your blog (which then helps you get more ARCs). But is there such a thing as too many? Is there a downside to being the receiver of these ever glorified ARCs?

Sometimes I look at the successful bloggers who get all the ARCs, like multitudes and multitudes of ARCs, and I think to myself “Is that really what I want?” Nine times out of ten, I think that the answer is 'no'. (In case you are wondering, the one time out of ten is when you throw an ARC like Evertrue or Split Second in my face and I lose all sense). Here are my reasons...

My first glimpse at the glamorous life of an ARC receiver was when I started reading through my BEA haul. I wanted to read every book I took home, and I wanted to read as many as I could before the release date, so I started following a pretty strict reading schedule for a while. I imagine this is something that those who primarily read and review ARCs do as well, or at least comparable. Well, before long, I got tired of it. There were books getting released that I wanted to read instead. And as books I had lined up received poor reviews I stopped wanting to read them. Hell, even books that received good reviews I didn't quite feel like reading after a point. The schedule, the feel of obligation (that I put on myself but would be present if I requested these), just didn't work for me. Despite the awesome feeling of getting all those pretties, I obviously couldn't have this become the norm. I really like having the freedom to pick what I read next without really having to worry about a schedule or release dates or promises.

Talk to me, ARC enthusiasts. Do you ever feel overwhelmed by the ARCs you have? Do you feel obligated to read and review every book you receive, even the unsolicited ones? What happens when you request more than you could possibly read or when you get behind schedule? What about when a few of your trusted friends DNF an ARC you were planning  to read? If your enthusiasm plummets, is it OK to just not read it after you requested it or do you still try to give it a fair chance? Can you still give it a fair chance? And even if you can't wait to read every ARC you have, do you ever miss the freedom to read whatever you want, whenever you want? I often hear about bloggers having a pile of ARCs they have to get through before they can read so and so book and I know I don't think I would want that for myself.

Also, if you are consistently the first to read a book, you have no way of knowing if it’s any good or not. I think we all know by now that synopses can be deceiving. Even picking up a book from an author you’ve read before is no sure thing. When I see some bloggers read ARC after ARC and each one sucks, I don’t envy them then. If this has happened to you, how did you feel? Did it bother you? Or do you enjoy being the first to read a book, even at the risk of it being no good?

Before I started school, I was reading through books at a decent pace so a string of not-great reads wouldn't have mattered much. But now my reading time has become A LOT more precious. Most of the books I pick up to read I expect to like based on previous reviews/ratings. Of course I don’t always know, and there are always a few surprises, but more or less I like what I read. I don’t have too many 2 star ratings, very few 1 star, and I think I’ve only not finished 2 or so books.I'd like to keep it this way.

Now I am not saying that ARCs aren’t great or that I don’t want them (please, who would ever say that?). I’ve just seen and heard a few things around the blogosphere that make me want ARCs in moderation (ALA and BEA hauls aside) and make me less envious of all the book hauls I see. Granted, no one is jumping at the opportunity to give me ARCs so it’s not like I have much of a choice here, but regardless.

I’ve only recently started using Edelweiss and Netgalley and I only request books that I really think I will love and I try to keep the number of requests pretty low so if I do get approved I never feel overwhelmed by the books I need to review. It’s not like I’m never going to read that book because I didn’t get an ARC. Everyone has to wait for some book or other and I have an extreme talent of distracting myself to lessen the torment. Honestly there are only ever a handful of books that I am DYING to read and would LOVE an ARC of. I haven't dared request physical ARCs yet but when I eventually muster up the courage to, it will probably be for a really special book (like the final book in the Guards of the Shadowlands series).

So please talk to me! What are your thoughts on ARCs? I want to hear from all of you – the bloggers that get all the ARCs to the ones that have yet to receive any and every one in between. Are you the type of reader that would love to be buried alive in ARCs, or are you like me, and convince yourself that you are satisfied with a select few to lessen the blow of insignificance (kidding here)? Or maybe you seriously detest ARCs for some reason, that’s cool too. I think we are all pretty familiar with the pros of getting them, so let's talk about the downside. Did I miss anything? Humor me.
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