I came back from my Newbery experiences to find an email from one of my former students asking me if I’d gotten an ARC for the forthcoming Percy Jackson book and if not could I please, please, please get one. Wanting to be sure of the title before making my request, yesterday I went to Rick Riordan’s blog where I discovered that there are no ARCS for The Battle of the Labyrinth. In “Raiders of the Lost ARCs” Rick gives some very good reasons why he doesn’t like them. He writes, “What bothers me is giving away the story before it is time.” Do read his post as he has some very solid reasons to be bothered by the ARC business (although I do hope he won’t go all legal if word gets out before May 6th about The Battle of the Labyrinth as happened this past July with …um…another…book).
But it isn’t just authors who are ambivalent about ARCs. I have an editor friend who detests them. She will send me one and then warn me repeatedly that it isn’t the final book. She worries that committees and reviewers will base their opinions on the ARC, still very much a work-in-progress, rather than the finished book. I understand completely because these are indeed often quite different and it often does seem unfair to overly pass judgement on the former. On the other hand, I have other editor and marketing friends who happily give them to me, eager to see what I think.
This post was prompted by Bookwitch on Proofs. She writes of the excitement of getting those advanced copies and I totally agree with her. While most of my fellow Newberys (they called us that at the photo-op Monday AM and I loved it!) used our few hours off Saturday afternoon to rest or reread I charged over to the exhibits to snap up a few. And with the buzz building before the official pub date it is hard not to want to get your hands on a hot item.
While I didn’t start this blog to review books, I do enjoy mentioning books I like, especially those that might otherwise get overlooked. So far I’ve commented about one book that I received and read as an ARC and will, no doubt, reference others now that I’m again free to do so. But there is another reason I debate doing so; I hate to frustrate people. There have been occasions when I read a rave review of a book not out for months and I did feel very frustrated having to wait. So I do my best to excite and not frustrate when mentioning forthcoming books.
But some ARCs are truly special. Last June I was first in line at BEA to get a signed ARC of Elijah of Buxton. The inscription? “To Monica, This is the 1st one I’ve signed! Christopher Paul Curtis.” Serendipity? Fate? Kismet? Whatever, I think I will bring it along to ALA in June where I suspect I may meet up with Mr. Curtis again.