Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Obligation to Read

Thursday, December 12, 2013 with 16 comments
We've all felt like this before.  (Not the reading outside in the cold, though I did do that this past weekend so my daughter could drive her Jeep around in the ice.  :P)   What I mean to say is, we all have stacks and stacks -- or thumbnails galore (or avatars?  I'm not really sure how to categorize books on ereaders since they're not technically "stacked") -- of books to read, and they never seem to quit growing.  Some of us, myself included, bring this problem on ourselves, by continuing to purchase, borrow, and request books ad nauseum, knowing how many we have at home waiting for us already. It's a real problem.

But to add to the conundrum, publishers like to send out unsolicited ARCs and finished copies, as well.  I don't get these too terribly frequently, but I'm always at a loss when I do.  Do I need to review it?  Should I try to work it into my reading schedule?  One publicist contacted me the day after I'd received a finished copy that I hadn't requested and asked me if I'd received it and if it was something I thought I might be interested in reviewing.

First off, if they already had my email, I think I should have been contacted prior to receiving the book. Because in this particular instance, yes, the book was one I'd been interested in, but it was a sequel to a book I hadn't yet read -- though, I'd also received an unsolicited finished copy of the first book -- and honestly, since it's not on my review schedule, it likely won't get read anytime soon.  My point is, there are probably a hundred other people who have read the first book and would be in a better position to read and review the copy, had they been given the opportunity instead of me.  So, now I kind of feel obligated to read the book.  Not that I'm going to in the next few weeks or anything because that would just cause me undue stress, and that's the last thing I need right around the holidays.

On the other hand, there are times when I receive unsolicited books that I never would have requested or wasn't aware of, and receiving a copy puts it on my radar.  So, I can see how the tactic works, even if I do think it makes more sense to put review copies in the hands of people who actually want them.  I don't think I'll ever understand how publishers work and what methodology they use to decide who gets which review copies.  I've seen plenty of posts on other blogs about it, but it seems that no two publishers are alike, and even publicists within the same publishing house have different "systems".

Regardless, I don't think the onus falls to me to review these unsolicited titles unless it's something I want to read.  I already have a hard enough time trying to read and review the books I have requested, and even then I can't get to every one of them so I have to prioritize my reading schedule.  And that in itself makes me feel guilty.  Sometimes, I have every intention of reading and reviewing the book, so I keep it.  Other times, I give the book away on the blog so that someone else who wants to read it gets the opportunity.

How do you handle unsolicited review copies?  Do you feel like you're expected to review everything you receive, requested or not?

ETA:  I don't want it to sound like I'm complaining, though I sort of am.  But you know when you're perusing others' In My Mailbox and Stacking the Shelves posts, and you see that someone has gotten an ARC of the sequel that you're seriously coveting?  And then they proclaim that they haven't even read the first book and they hope they can make time for both before the sequel's release?  And they don't sound all that promising? THAT.  I just think instead of sending out review copies all willy nilly, publishers should maybe send those bad boys out to reviewers who really want to read them. Say, those of us who have actually requested them and been ignored.  ;0)


  1. I loved this post! I often feel obligated to read review requests (Whether it be from an author or on NetGalley) before I pick up a book I am dying to read and then i feel guilty about it.. which is just insane really as the point of starting the blog was to write about book I wanted to read and chat about in the first place!

    (On the NetGalley point - This is just and addictive and tempting place. Although I have found so many great reads on here, it does not help my reading schedule!)

    Great post Jen :)

    Chanzie @ Mean Who You Are.

  2. I'm sure a lot of other bloggers would like to have that problem! I don't get a lot of unsolicited ARCs but I have received emails with the books attached already. Sometimes I accept the books for review, most of the time I have to decline because the emails they send out are incredibly unprofessional.

    If I received unsolicited copies, I'll go over the synopsis and get back to the publisher on whether or not I will read or review the book. I feel like they expect us to review it and giving them feedback on the ARC will help maintain our established relationship.

  3. I've never got an unsolicited ARC before, but if I did I'd handle it by throwing confetti in the air and having a dance party!

  4. LOL I like Allies comment!! I would also love if publishers started sending me surprise YA Contemporaries to read :) Anyway I also feel guilty if I don't read things that are "supposed" to be read and I end up putting off books I really want to read. The problem with that is by the time I get around to reading books I really wanted to read, I forget some of them :( Cool idea for a discussion post!

    Michelle @ Pink Polka Dot Book Blog

  5. Totally feeling this as well! I live internationally so I don't get unsolicited copy as much as US-based blogger, but when I do I get that sort of feeling too. I tried to read it, though, but if it really wasn't my taste, I would put it back on the shelf and well, just wait for dunno when to get it reviewed. (Bad habit, but oh well .__.)

    Nice discussion topic, Jen! And just came back to the blogosphere and saw your layout, but IT'S PRETTY!

    Neysa @ [B.O.O.K.L.I.F.E]

  6. I have exactly your same opinion on this. I used to feel obligated to review ew unsolicited books bc I felt grateful or afraid the pub would cut me off if I didn't. I no longer feel obligated, if I don't want the book, I pass it along. And like you, I've ended up reading and loving unsolicited books, so I guess either way, we all win.
    Great discussion!

  7. I just got a book last week in the mail and I was all like- huh? Did I win a giveaway on a blog and forgot about it? But I wracked my brain and did some research, and I think the author must have seen that I'm pretty active on my blog and was hoping maybe I'd mention it on there? Or I'm giving myself too much credit and they just randomly selected me off of Goodreads. =) And though I appreciate the gesture, it just felt a bit...awkward.

  8. I couldn't agree more and I wish publishers would pay attention to what we're interested in rather than just thinking about "the mighty dollar".
    - Krys

  9. I get about five unsolicited books a month now from publishers. While I love getting books, I run into the practical issues that you brought out- time to read them in a timely fashion with what I've already got on my plate, books that are not the first in a series that I haven't read, books that may not be of high interest to me and frankly some that don't interest me at all. I've taken the approach that if I can read it I will, but I won't put it before those I made a commitment to read already. So I'm grateful, but only have so much time in a day is what it all boils down too.

  10. PREACH IT, JEN. Okay, so I have only gotten 2 unsolicited ARCs from the same publisher and one was the final and third book in a trilogy that I wasn't interested in. I have the first book somewhere, but, nope, not really any interest. And it was HARDCOVER. I'm very grateful and a bit flattered, not gonna lie, but so far it's been of books that I don't really care for (if it was of some that I had interest in, that would be another story). But what I hate is like you said, seeing someone's haul post and they show off a book that you are LUSTING after and they say "well, I never requested it so I'll TRY to find time for it, but I dunno..." And you're there, jaw open, thinking, "What...what?" It's frustrating, I think, for both parties. But I'm unsure of what to do with copies as well!

  11. I've gotten very few unsolicited arcs before. I felt very honored but didn't feel stressed about reading them. I read the ones I was interested in and gave the others away on Twitter as giveaways or to blogger friends.

    The thing that irks me is when people receive multiple copies of a coveted book...and I've had this happen as well. And boy did I feel BAD. I know someone out there is desperate to read it and here I am sitting on TWO copies. yeeps. I give these away or pass them on to a blogger friends too but I wonder--what did I do to get two? Did I mess up?

    I felt like crying when I saw people with multiple copies of Cress since I was wanting a copy so badly. Just the way the cookie crumbles I guess.

    Great discussion post! Very interesting to read other's opinions on this. Like you I have NO idea how the publishers figure this stuff out and I imagine some of the repeat copies are errors.

  12. Ugh I agree. I never get unsolicited ARC's but I do request ARC's only to be ignored or turned down then read someone's post stating they got it and don't know when they will have time to read it!

    S.Huston @ Head In The Clouds

  13. I will read some if they interest me, but I pass on the ones that don't to my co-reviewer. If she doesn't want them, she passes them on to her reading club.

  14. I guess that's the good part about being INT, because I only get solicited ARC's. I don't think I would feel very bad about not reading books I didn't request. You can't help it after all and it's not like you have to feel forced to read it, just because they give it to you..

  15. I've only ever gotten unsolicited review copies with books I've agreed to review. I don't think I've reviewed any of them. I do my absolute best to always post reviews early on the day I say I'll have them up, but if I didn't agree to review something, I don't worry about it.

  16. Haha well as for me, I don't get ARC's when they're unsolicited, and even the solicited ones are just e-copies. I don't try to mingle with publishers around as much, so that the atmosphere around my blog isn't too professional and all that XD But I do think that they just send unsolicited copies to get their books out there-- that's always the goal I guess! Sometimes it works, but I just think that it's wrong to an extent. It would be MUCH better to give the books to people who want them in the first place :D Great post, Jen!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...