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Why I'm no longer accepting review copies: 04/15/15
Today I wrote the last review of an ARC I received in the mail. With that accomplishment comes a huge sense of relief and the lifting of a lingering weight.
For the first 18 months after dedicating this blog to writing book reviews, I was the captain of my reading experience (more or less, as I was reading bed time stories to my then young children). And then as the page rank rose (back when page rank was more of a BFD than it is now) I received my first offer of an ARC.
On the one hand, I was thrilled. On the other hand, I was a little disappointed. It wasn't a topic I was especially interested in.
And this is how review offers are so insidious. We're taught to "not judge a book by its cover". We're taught to "not look a gift horse in mouth." As hobby bloggers we're supposed to be grateful for any attention the publishing industry gives us. We're supposed to graciously accept their offers.
Like those "free cruise tickets" I get offers for in the mail, we also have to jump through a bunch of hoops if we want to continue receiving all these "hot" new books (even if they aren't things we're interested in). We have to keep to the publisher's schedule. We have to get our reviews OKed. We have to participate in blog tours. We have to be up beat and enthusiastic in our reviews. We have to post our reviews in the approved websites (like Amazon — a site I haven't been a customer of in five years).
Our shelves get cluttered up with books we might not be interested in reading but can't easily ditch (selling ARCs is a no-no and the garbage collectors get annoyed when the recycle bin is over stuffed). Or our computers get clogged with ebooks with ticking time bomb expiration dates. Even if they don't expire, sometimes the quality of the ebook is so poor that they're impossible to read.
What I'm trying to say is that review copies are too much stress with very little reward. Collectively they suck the fun right out of reading.
So now I'm going to focus on only two sources of reading: my own shelves (I maintain a perpetual backlog of roughly 300 or so volumes on the TBR pile) and the library. With the time freed up by the ARCs, I'll be able to focus on reviving a research project I began in 1995 but had to abandon in 1997 on the semantics of the road trip. If you're curious to follow along, I'm live blogging my research on Tumblr.