Here is Barbie the Dragon Slayer. What I like about this dragon–besides the fact that he matches Barbie, is that he has the goofy look of a man in love. Oh, he’s trying to be macho, breathing fire and all, but love makes a guy stupid (at least, that’s what it does to my heroes), so to me, this is the perfect image, including Barbie, the conquering heroine.
This is all I feel qualified to say about dragons at present, so, with thanks to Jo for the excellent Barbie/dragon combo, I shall move on to my actual real topic: How to Throw Away a Book.
First, everybody stop screaming. The world will not come to an end if you put that paperback into the recycling bin.
Second, let me explain. It all started last month in the Romance Writers Report with an article about the sale of ARCs. For the uninitiated, ARCs have nothing to do with Noah (that would be with a ‘K” anyway) or bits of circles. ARC stands for Advance Reading Copy. Or Advance Review Copy. The publisher sends these out–for free–to reviewers and others well ahead of the publication date, to get advance publicity for our books. Because it’s so far ahead of the publication date, this isn’t the version of the book that will hit the shops. In most cases, it’s the uncorrected proofs. Sometimes it’s a clean copy of the edited manuscript. Whatever version of the book it is, though, it’s NOT FOR SALE, as is clearly stated on the cover.
Here are two examples. One looks nothing like the final book and one looks very much like it.
Notice how it says NOT FOR SALE? Kinda hard to miss that, huh?
While selling them isn’t strictly illegal, it’s not exactly kosher. It costs the publisher money to produce ARCs; they do it in hopes of publicity that will sell the final version. When people sell ARCs, they dishonor the deal. The author loses out on royalties and the publisher loses out on profits. As you have heard from the Wenches on several occasions, sometimes a small number of books, or a relatively small number of dollars can make the difference between an author getting her publishing contract renewed…or not.
This is what I try to keep in mind, too, when it comes to secondhand books, and it’s the reason I avoid buying secondhand unless the book is out of print.
Which brings me to this month’s RWR and a letter from a reader in response to last month’s article on ARCs. She worries about what happens to ARCs and used books if one doesn’t sell them. What’s the alternative? she wants to know. Throw it in the trash? She feels that selling an ARC is a way of preserving something precious: an early version of a work. To her, throwing any book away is a terrible crime. Furthermore, authors objecting to the sale of ARCs and used copies “are pushing the world to toss their work in the trash.” And this, in her view, somehow equates to people thinking of romance as trash.
I’m not sure I follow the logic but then, I’m a word person, so I’m still stuck on the NOT FOR SALE thing there, at the top of the cover. And I have to wonder if the people who sell what’s NOT FOR SALE are the kind of people who think rules are for other people, rather than the kind who feel a compelling need to preserve an inferior version of a book for posterity.
In any case, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with throwing a book away–though, naturally, I’d prefer it go into the recycling bin rather than the garbage. I say this even though I curse all those who threw away all those copies of some obscure and probably barely readable book from 1820 that I really need, and is now either nonexistent or else so rare that it might as well not exist, since it costs six point two bajillion dollars.
I still think it’s OK to throw them away. I’m not saying it’s easy. It isn’t, for me. But I can do it, and do, from time to time. I simply haven’t room to keep all the books I read. Sometimes they go into the recycling because I don’t want the author to lose out on used book sales. Sometimes the book ends up in the garbage because something got spilled on it. Sometimes it’s because I thought it was garbage and that’s where it belonged. And sometimes it’s a book I’ve outgrown. More often than not, though, I bring the ones in good sh
ape to the library. Here, too, there’s no profit for the author but at least the books are supposed to be getting into the hands of people who otherwise would not be able to read them. The public library is a concept I believe in strongly, as I believe in the concept of public schools–making knowledge available to all. But I still don’t see ARCs in that picture, anywhere.
Time for you to weigh in, oh lovers of books.
Do you agree with any of the above or not? Is it a sin to throw away a book, any book?