Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Librarians: How to get ARCs

Book bloggers are pretty savvy about how to get ahold of books before their publication date. But librarians don't always have a source for getting advance reader copies (ARCs)-- even though reading them can influence our book-buying decisions as we add to our library collections. Being knowledgeable about the latest titles (even before they're published!) can also boost our ability to make excellent book recommendations to our patrons.

Librarians usually rely on professional review journals to keep up with forthcoming titles, but the question of how to get ahold of ARCs often comes up in the library community. Reviews are invaluable, but clearly a lot of us like to read books first-hand and evaluate them on our own.

So how can librarians get ARCs? Here are a few strategies that have worked for me:

1. Attend conferences

I know this can be easier said than done for many of us, but when ALA Annual or Midwinter is in your neighborhood, it's a must-do. Bookmark this list of upcoming conferences to keep tabs where ALA will be held every year through 2017. Other conferences where ARCs are distributed include BEA and NCTE. If you can attend these conferences or know anyone who’s going, it’s a great way to gather a ton of ARCs. I'm sure there are other conferences where you can pick up ARCs-- please share in the comments if you have any suggestions!

2. Contact your local independent bookstore

My library has a wonderful partnership with a local independent bookstore, and the owner has occasionally brought over boxes of slightly older ARCs that she and her staff were done with and had no room to store. Such a treat! So if you have any great indie bookstores in your area, see if they would be willing to donate the ARCs they're no longer using. Even if the ARCs are past their publish date, you can use them as giveaways for your library teens, who won't care that the titles have already been published. They'll just appreciate the cool books.

3. Sign up for NetGalley

If you've got an ereading device (or don't mind reading on your computer screen), NetGalley is one of the easiest, most convenient ways to read ARCs. A variety of publishers choose to make ARCs available in digital formats. You can create a profile on the site, request ARCs (which expire after a certain time period), and easily send your feedback to the publisher when you're done reading. I LOVE NetGalley!

4. Join YALSA-BK

Publishers occasionally post ARC giveaways on YALSA-BK, a mailing list primarily of interest to young adult librarians. But you have to be quick! ARCs go like hotcakes, and the publishers usually have a limited number to offer.

5. Build relationships with local book bloggers

Many book bloggers approach publishers directly for books to review, and would welcome an ethical way to pass along ARCs once they're done reading. Try to make contact with book bloggers in your area and ask them to consider passing along their ARCs to you. You'll probably have good luck meeting book bloggers by attending author events in your area-- and hopefully you'll not only build a partnership, but make a friend!

Edited to add...
6. Contact publishers directly

You heard it here... book bloggers aren't the only ones who can ask publishers to send them ARCs. When I tweeted about this blog post, the Library Marketing Team at Hachette Book Group responded to encourage librarians to contact publishers' library marketing departments.

Isn't that awesome? I honestly never thought of simply asking for an ARC... I was worried it might seem pushy or grabby. But truly, ARCs make a huge difference when I'm selecting for my library's collection.

Even if I read an ARC and it turns out not to be my cup of tea, I'm able to see its appeal for another type of reader. I'm much more likely to order a book for the library if I've read it and know I can recommend it to someone.

It really does benefit the publisher to make ARCs available to librarians, and I see that I shouldn't feel so hesitant about asking. So, thank you to the Library Marketing Team at Hachette Book Group for the excellent tip!

Of course, I'm not sure if all publishers share Hachette's stance on this, but it's worth a polite inquiry. Even if a publisher isn't in the practice of sending ARCs to librarians, their library marketing departments have some cool stuff to offer- reading guides, newsletters- so check them out! EarlyWord has a great round-up of library marketing contacts from various publishers:

Publisher Contacts: Library Marketing, Children's
Publisher Contacts: Library Marketing, Adult

So, those are my tips on how librarians can get ARCS, and I hope you find them helpful. What strategies have worked for you?

Next: book bloggers: what to do with those old ARCs?


  1. Thank you so much for addressing this! I do get uncorrected proofs occasionally from my local indie bookstore, but have been thinking about starting to request them for my book review blog. I just wish that ARCs were finished products, so then I could circulate them in my library's collection (I have a minuscule budget).

  2. Thanks for reading! So smart that you're already hooked up with your local indie.

    I know what you mean about the budget... it's so tough to make purchasing decisions when funds are tight, isn't it? So many good books that deserve to be ordered.

    But even though we can't add them to our collections, ARCs can still be an awesome giveaway prize for library patrons. I'll be addressing that in my next post!

  3. I’m a library Coordinator for elementary, I read children books and YA. As professions in books I well have to say I glad you brought this topic because we are usually overlooked when it comes to getting ARCs when it would help us on when ordering for the library and when are co-workers come together to disgust what’s good out there for us to get. I’m glad I was able to go to this year ALA where I was able to get some ARCs and I have friend that share them with me. Other than that I would have any access to ARC which I also use as gift for my students, especially know when it so hard with budget cut to even get book for the library. By me reading the ARC and passing it to my student their able to have a book in their hands.

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