Friday, January 11, 2008

Just when you thought publishing couldn't get any stranger...

Galleycat (via e Fine Books & Collections blog) today carries the story of Scribners publishing taking a new look at the ARC s(galleys) it sends out to reviewers:

...the parent company Simon & Schuster "reserves the right to cancel the loan and recall possession of the proof at any time."
The assumption being that galleys are "loaned" for promotional purposes.

"Scribner didn't say on the outside of the package—which was left on our doorstep by the delivery company—that accepting the package bound us to these terms. They didn't provide a way for us to return the book at Scribner's expense. In short, they are attempting to saddle us with a book we don't want and are hinting that legal action might follow if we dispose of it or sell it."

As the blog goes on to note, many ARCs tend to be sent to reviewers unsolicited, and that makes them gifts in the eyes of federal law, gifts which the recipient "has the right to retain, use, discard, or dispose of it in any manner he sees fit without any obligation whatsoever to the sender." So let's put it to the lawyers in the readership: Is Scribner's effort to prevent the sale of ARCs on the used-book market by binding recipients to its imposed terms legal?


Dave Zeltserman said...

There's an easy way for publishers like Scribners to solve this:

1) ARCs are currently labeled "not for resale". Publishers should add to that that if the ARC is resold the publisher will no longer provide ARCs to the reviewer.

2) Put the name of the reviewer inside the ARC. If it's put up for resale, there's a good chance the publisher can find out about it. Now with the name of the reviewer, the publisher needs to follow through and cut that scurilous reviewer off for all future ARCs.

I guess when publishers are printing up to 3000 ARCs as they are for some books, this reselling of ARCs can be a serious issue. For me personally, I just don't like having readers read my uncorrected ARCs--I'd rather have them read my book in their more cleaned up form.

Anonymous said...

Pretty astonishing. I like Dave's ideas. Also, can't say I blame the publisher for wanting to lash out at yet another practice killing off sales.

Anonymous said...

I have to disagree. As someone who has received hundreds of ARC's (generally unsolicited) I have to have an outlet to dispose of them. I can throw them away or I can sell them to someone who has an interest in the author or the book. As someone who has purchased ARC's, they are generally of books which I have already bought, read and liked and I want the ARC as part of my collection of the author. Also, when I sell them, it is genrally after the book has been published and the publisher and writer have achieved their sales. Just my two cents worth.

Craig Clarke said...

Something like that would be enough for me to refuse any further ARCs from that publisher. Reviewers are doing the publisher a favor by reviewing their book, and they seem to forget that sometimes. Where would the publisher be if a good number of their review outlets suddenly refused to accept their books?

Anonymous said...

I agree, I normally buy ARCs of books I already have, a neat collector's item to sit beside the legit edition.