Recently, people in the bookish community have been raving about the rules for requesting ARCs (advanced reader’s copies) on NetGalley and entering giveaways on Goodreads because bigger publishers in the former platform start giving access to U.S. reviewers/bloggers mostly (or other English speaking countries like the U.K., Canada and Australia) and the latter is going to limit their entrants to U.S. residents only.
What about the international readers/people?
Hence, as an international reader myself, I decided to share my opinion on this issue here and hopefully I’ll get to hear yours, too.
◆What’s going on?◆
I think it all began when Goodreads made an announcement about their New Giveaway Program, starting January, 2018, on their website a few days ago and then NetGalley has been making more and more people residing outside the U.S.A. “wish for” ARC titles they’re interested in reviewing recently and these policies pushed the buttons of international readers/bloggers/reviewers in the book community.
Since 90% of the Goodreads giveaways I’m interested in aren’t available in my country, their new program about hosting giveaways for people in the U.S. actually doesn’t faze me that much. However, I can totally understand why it’s making people furious because, let’s take a look at an email from Goodreads to an U.K. based author wanting to host giveaways on GR first:
Well, I certainly don’t see how Goodreads can “bring new Goodreads Giveaways program to more marketplaces” by limiting the availability of countries to solely U.S. and I also don’t see how charging the authors who want to host a giveaway for prices ranging from $100 to $600 will prompt them to do so (check details here). In case you’re wondering, as far as I know, the authors hosting giveaways on Goodreads used to be responsible for the shipping fees only instead of the full package price. I mean, I think it’ll be way easier for the authors to host their own giveaways on their social media or websites rather than posting one on GR.
NetGalley is “a site where book reviewers and other professional readers can read books before they are published, in e-galley or digital galley form. Members register for free and can request review copies or be invited to review by the publisher.” For people who use this site to get e-ARCs frequently, you may notice that you could only “WISH FOR” some titles from certain publishers (mostly the “Big 5,” including Penguin Random House, HarperCollins, Hachette Book Group, Macmillan Publishers and Simon and Schuster) instead of “requesting” them as usual.
In my opinion, wishes are rarely granted and even if a few people are lucky enough to gain access to those titles, there are still a bunch of readers out there who’re dying to read those ARCs and who’re so willing to promote them that can’t have the chance to do so because of the policy.
What I don’t understand is why restricting the accessibility to ebooks for international readers? It’s totally understandable that publishers don’t want to send physical ARCs worldwide because of the production and shipping costs but what about digital copies? The distribution cost of sending ebooks is supposed to be lower than mailing physical ones, right? Or perhaps there are copyright problems or legal concerns that I’m not aware of when it comes to publishing.
The main purpose of ARCs is for people to spread the word about the upcoming new releases and create the hype for the books on social media/blogs/YouTube/Goodreads before they’re published. Now that these bigger publishers apparently are gradually pushing out international readers for whatever reasons, I don’t see how their move will benefit their sales, international sales in particular. I guess they’re doing this because their international sales don’t meet up the expectations and thus, decide to simply target their audience to U.S. residents since 1)the U.S. is where they’re based in mostly and 2)it’s easier to promote their own books to their own people. *DUH*
There are already too many people talking about Goodreads and NetGalley’s new marketing strategies so here’s a post I recommend reading if you’d like to know more about the details, pros(not so much, though) and cons of the issue. Seriously, I couldn’t have said it better than Laura @thebookcrops did so please go read her post!
♥Alternatives & Other Choices for International Readers♥
Since NetGalley is primarily about getting ARCs to read and review, I’d like to share some other ways we can still obtain them as international readers:
1) Blog Tours.
There are many nice bloggers who’re willing to organize amazing blog tours for bloggers to participate in and for authors to promote their books. Most of the blog tours contain reviewing ARCs, which the e-copies will be provided by the authors or publishers themselves and you don’t need to worry about where you are from.
Here are some of the blog tours I’ve heard of or joined before:
★Lola’s Blog Tours: You can find various genres of books you’d like to read and sign up for upcoming tours. So far I’m pretty satisfied with the blog tours’ quality, selection of books and overall service so I totally recommend giving it a try.
★The Fantastic Flying Book Club: I’m still new to their book tours so can’t really tell you what I think in general but I have to say that most of their book promos look incredibly amazing. I want to read every single one of their YA novels!
★Rockstar Book Tours: I adore their blog tours most of the time but the only thing I find disappointing is that they choose bloggers. Signing up for the tours doesn’t automatically guarantee you as one of the tour hosts and they also take your blog stats into consideration so for someone not so influential compared to those popular bloggers, I don’t have much luck with their tours. 😛 But hey, it’s still worth the try!
★Xpresso Book Tours: This is a place full of never-ending blog tours/book blitzes/cover reveals that I’m eager to try in the future. It’s also run by a professional publicist/blogger so I’m pretty sure it won’t let you down.
★YA Bound Book Tours: I’ve seen many of my blogger friends joining their book tours and apparently, they offer chances to read some YA new releases along with exciting book news for those promos.
★Enticing Journey Book Promotions: What if you’re not a blogger and don’t have a blog to post these stuff but you review books on Amazon or Goodreads? Don’t worry! This site is a great place for you to read and review ARCs; the best part of it is that the bloggers who organize the site will send you a copy at least three weeks prior to the official publication date of the book so you’ll have plenty of time to prepare for your review! 🙂
★Paperback Kingdom: A lovely bookish community aiming to bring some underrated or undiscovered books to more readers around the world. They’ve opened up a Book ARC Board where international reviewers/bloggers can sign up for at most 3 ARCs a month.
I’m pretty sure there are many other blog tours organizations that I haven’t discovered yet so if you have favorited blog tours I didn’t mention above, please feel free to let me know! It’s time to spread some love for these hardworking people behind the sites!
2) Ask the publishers directly and nicely for ARCs.
As far as I’m concerned, there are international sales departments in Penguin Random House, Macmillan Publisher and HarperCollins where reviewers/bloggers can email their publicists/publicity dept. to request for ARCs. Unfortunately, I’m far from expert in this field so I can’t really share a lot of tips here. :O Besides, as amazing as ARCs make me feel, I actually feel bad about asking for physical copies because what if I end up not liking them? I feel obliged to give them over 3/5 stars so that I won’t be guilty for asking for them in the first place.
3) Support indie authors/publishers/press!
To be honest, I have to thank those publishers for setting the limitation for ARCs requesters on NetGalley because there are still many smaller publishers who offer their books to international readers. Even though many people may not find their titles as intriguing and promising as those from big publishers, you never know how good the stories actually are without giving them a try! I think the whole incident about NG and GR gives the indie authors/publishers a perfect opportunity to be noticed by more readers because we’ll surely feel more welcomed with them.
So far I’ve discovered:
★Owl Hollow Press: They have some great YA novels (fantasy, dystopian and more) coming out soon so keep an eye on upcoming events! In fact, one of the best books I’ve read this year is published by them so I have faith in their future books.
★Snowy Wings Publishing: I just found this website from a recent tweet by my friend and they’re currently recruiting international bloggers to become snow angels!
★Fiery Seas Publishing: This is also a fairly new publisher I’ve discovered and I know there are some book blitzes and cover reveals going on.
★Prodigy Gold Books: They have a great selection of YA Fantasy and Sci-fi novels (and some non-fictions) for you to choose from. Besides, their Director of Trade Publicity is super nice so don’t hesitate to let him know if you’re interested in any of their titles!
★Bastei Entertainment: It’s an imprint of Bastei Lübbe AG, one of Germany’s largest publishing houses. They publish both German and English ebooks and are constantly looking for readers worldwide on NetGalley. Most of their books are love/romance and mystery/crime.
♥Positive Mindset for Everyone♥
Since there’s been so much negativity in the bookish world already, here are some tips and advice I’d like to share with all of you to make you feel better:
♥Reading, reviewing books and blogging aren’t all about ARCs.
As disheartening as what NetGalley’s doing sounds, it’s not the end of the world! Yes, ARCs make us feel special and privileged; they never fail to make our day, week or even month and they may be the source of our sense of achievement but they’re not the only reason why we blog. True, ARC reviews are probably some of the most-viewed posts among all the others but perhaps it’ll make us feel better if we treat them as a cherry on top to our blogs rather than the one and only element.
Besides, there are a variety of what we can blog about, from (published) book reviews, tags and awards, to bookish memes, you’ll never run out of blog post ideas (unless you want to create your own) so the lack of ARC opportunities inflicted by NetGalley’s policy is just an eye-opener for what it’s like in reality. Just because those popular publishers stop granting as many wishes as they used to do for international readers doesn’t mean all the publishers are exactly like them. It’s their business strategy so let’s just wait and see how it’ll turn out.
♥We’ll have more time to read and focus on our TBRs.
What happens if we don’t have easy access to ARCs like we used to? I think it’s totally fine if we could shift our attention to our own ridiculous pile of TBRs instead of chasing after the unreachable ARCs. There are so many books we’ve heard of or wanted to read for a long time but never get the chance to do so; now is the perfect timing because at least we can finally tackle our own to-read lists and truly enjoy them!
♥Always be grateful!
As an international reader, I know that international markets are relatively minor compared to those target readers in certain countries/areas so whenever someone give me the chance to read and review their books, it always makes me feel extremely grateful (and unbelievable) because it’s literally dream-come-true.
Hence, perhaps we could focus less on the fact that publishers are limiting our chances to get ARCs and try feeling the incredible amount of gratitude for what we already had. I believe you’ll feel how lucky you are to be able to achieve the goals you did and how impossible it’d be if it weren’t for your hard work all this time.
Despite the fact that Goodreads and NetGalley made their choices to give international readers fewer chances to participate in future giveaways and ARC-requests, I’m sure there are other options we have. We can still read and review ARCs from different blog tours, book promo events and indie authors/publishers. If you aren’t interested in promoting books, always keep in mind that blogging isn’t all about ARCs. It may be true that ARC reviews improve your blog traffic, but it’s also important to blog about whatever you like and enjoy most. Besides, it’s amazing enough that we’ve been given the chance to receive ARCs because that means our opinions matter and they will continually be valuable no matter what.
What I really hope those publishers will realize eventually is that NOT EVERYONE IN THE WORLD HAS EASY ACCESS TO BOOKS/LIBRARIES/BOOKSTORES. I genuinely hope they’ll stop assuming readers can get books as easily as they think. Because I know they don’t. Some have to rely on giveaways to have real, physical books since not all online bookstores ship to every corner in the world and some cannot afford English novels even in their local bookstores due to the higher prices and international shipping.
Therefore, I’m glad international readers are speaking out and making our own voices.
For every international reader like me:
Please bear in mind that you’re not alone whether or not your opinions are heard because there are many people like you under the circumstances. It’s time we repositioned ourselves in the bookish world and don’t ever underestimate our power as we are and will always be a part of the community. ❤
Last but not least, thank you all for reading and I hope you’ll find something helpful!
♥Thank you & let’s talk!♥
What do you think about the situation? How are you going to deal with the inevitable consequences? Don’t hesitate to let me know! 🙂
Until next time,