As a renowned blogger, author John Scalzi receives many advance reader copies (ARCs) of books to review—more, in fact, than he can actually read.
Today, Scalzi writes of HarperCollins imprint Eos sending him a couple of e-ARC cards—cards with a scratch-off field containing an access code to download the electronic version of an advance reader copy from HarperCollins’s website.
Scalzi remarks that this is an excellent way to get him not to read the books—he has plenty of other physical ARCs he could read, has no desire to read a whole book on his computer or iPod Touch, and doesn’t feel like going through the process of setting up the user account on the HarperCollins website necessary to download the books.
He also mentions a prior attempt by another publisher to get him to read an e-ARC, whose DRM would require him to validate his computer with a third party and would expire in 30 days. Scalzi replied that he did not see the point of him going to extra effort to look at a book someone else wanted to publicize, and didn’t like the implied lack of trust inherent in 30-day expiring DRM.
Dear publicity folk: You know I love you, am philosophically inclined to and aligned with your goals, and I know you’re trying to do your job in innovative and interesting ways. I can’t blame you for that — indeed I applaud you. But this is a simple fact: The moment you make me jump through all sorts of hoops to access a book you want to publicize, you lose me. Because I am lazy, because I don’t take kindly to having to leave even more information about myself in someone else’s hands, because I don’t like feeling I’m not trusted and because I have lots of other books competing for my interest which don’t require me to do anything else but read.
It’s an interesting point. I can see where e-arcs would, theoretically, make things easier for the publisher—but for publishers who don’t believe in DRM-free offerings as Baen does, the DRM just ends up getting in the way of the potential reviewer.
And when you’ve got a much-in-demand reviewer like Scalzi, anything you do to make it harder for him to read your book means he will instead turn to an easier one.