Daily Archives: April 9, 2010

eARCs: Big Fat PublicityFail

So, Eos sent me a couple of these cards, which are for electronic ARCs of upcoming books; what you do is scratch off the silver lottery-card like thing to get a code, sign in to the Harper Collins site, and then type in the code to download the ARC.

This pretty much assures I won’t be reading this particular book. Why?

1. On my desk right now I have 11 other ARCs, all of which are readable by me opening the cover, rather than having to scratch off silver gunk to get a code, sign on to a Web site, etc.

2. This assumes that I have a dedicated e-reader (which I don’t) or that I want to read a full length novel on my computer or iPod Touch (which I don’t).

3. The three-step process outlined on the card (1. go to Web site, 2. enter code, 3. get book) sort of mysteriously omits the part where you have to set up an account on the Harper Collins site, which I have no desire to do and which is where my sense of obligation to try to get this ARC goes right out the window.

This is actually the second time a publicity department has tried to interest me in an electronic ARC; the first time was a few months ago when a different publisher’s publicist queried me if I would be interested in a digital galley slathered in DRM, which would require me to validate my computer with a third party, and which would expire 30 days after I first virtually cracked it open. To which I responded thusly:

I have to confess to not really seeing the upside for me of having to validate all sorts of various machines in order to look at a book you wish to publicize, and to be entirely blunt about it, offering up a DRM’d book that explodes in 30 days has the subtext of “we really don’t trust you not to put this into a torrent,” which annoys me, even though I am sure you don’t mean it that way.

I will of course be delighted to look at the novel (and any others you may wish to send to me) in that other wireless format, known as print.

Since I didn’t bother to go through the entire process for the Eos book, I can’t say whether there’s DRM on it as well or if it has an expiration date, but if it did that would be another reason not to bother.

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.

If you are really gung-ho about doing ARCs in an electronic fashion, fine, but you have to make them as easy for me to use as the physical ARCs. Otherwise I’m not going to bother — or as in the case here, I’m only going to bother until the point at which I get fed up, and stop. If your innovation is getting in the way of me actually reading the work you’re trying to promote, you’re doing it wrong. Please stop and re-think.

And while you’re rethinking, just go ahead and send me physical ARCs, okay? They utilize a robust technology well-known for its ease of use and lack of dependence on external apparatuses or power sources. I can’t get enough of it! And that’s going to make it more likely to help me help you do your job: Tell other people about your books and authors. Thank you for your consideration.