Pardon me while I rant incessantly: Selling ARCs for fun & profit

Yesterday was an exciting day. Billy Coffey announced his debut novel, Snow Day is now available for pre-order on all major online book selling sites. It was also the day I checked my mailbox to find a package from someone who was selling an advanced reader copy (ARC) of the same book online. What is an ARC?

Definition: An ARC is an Advanced Readers Copy of a book. In the freelance writing field, this term is most commonly used by those who review books for magazines and newspapers. The ARC is generally a paperback edition that is not complete- that is, it may lack a final proofread or its final cover design. ARCs are sent to potential reviewers based on their relationship with a certain publications, or with the publisher themselves. Sometimes ARCs may be supplied by an editor at the publication to the freelance writer. (from

If you want to buy an ARC, there are many opportunties to do so. Last time I checked, there were about 64,000 ARCs available for sale on Ebay. Every one pictured had the same words emblazoned on the cover: “Advanced Reading Copy – Not for Sale”. And yet, there are 64,000 copies available for sale on eBay and many more available through private sellers doing business through places like That’s where I bought the copy I now own. Why did I buy it? Mostly because I wanted to take it off the market.

A week or so ago I was checking the Snow Day listing on Amazon when I saw that it was listed as being available in paperback. Upon further investigation, I learned that it was an ARC, not the final edited version of the book. The person selling it even advertised it as such. Before I purchased it, I asked the seller via email why, if it was clearly marked, “Not for resale” she was selling it. Here is her response:

I am selling it because it is collector’s item as it’s a publisher’s
release and there are people who collect these kinds of books.

Clearly, I was entirely too subtle. Either that, or she just doesn’t care if what she is doing is wrong. I know many of you may be saying, “What’s the big deal? Everybody is doing it.” Here’s why I think you shouldn’t do it:

  • ARCS are not the final product. They are not intended for sale to the general public because they are not complete.
  • Just because there are collectors of these books doesn’t make it right to profit from something that was never intended to be re-sold. What if I told you I had a collection of shrunken heads?  Should it be okay to sell shrunken heads because there’s a market for them? (If there is a market for them, that’s really something I’d rather not know about–just saying.)
  • Because people selling ARCs typically have nothing invested in them. They simply got something for free and have decided to make a profit from it. The publisher paid to have that ARC printed, and the author spent considerable time and effort on it writing the book. Neither will see a dime from the sale of it.
  • Because, DUH, it clearly says NOT FOR SALE on the cover. There’s been some debate as to whether the practice is illegal, or if illegal, if the law is enforceable. But come on people! It’s most certainly unethical.
  • Because if you were the author, you wouldn’t want someone profiting off the sale of your book. It’s that whole “Do unto others” thing. Old school, I know. But that’s how I roll.
  • If you sell ARCs for fun and profit, you will placed on my crap list with black sharpie.

I’m just so tired of people with the attitude of doing what they can get away with because no one wants to go to the trouble of doing anything about it. And even though I’m just one person, I chose to do something about it. Immediately after I received that book today, I reported the seller to Amazon. I don’t know if anything further will be done about it, but at least I did something.

“The superior man understands what is right; the inferior man understands what will sell.” ~ Confucius

End of rant…

And now, the winners of a free copy of Plan B by Pete Wilson as determined by random number generation (thanks, are (drumroll, please…)

Michelle (butterfly avatar)


Melissa Brotherton

Congrats, ladies! I will email you both with further details. I like this book giveaway thing. Look for more in the future! Thanks for all who participated!

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