Raiders of the Lost ARCs

Do you know what happens to an ARC, Advanced Review or Reading Copy, when the reviewer is finished? Sometimes the reviewer keeps the ARC or offers it as a prize in a contest or raffle basket. Most authors give away ARCs with the hope that the copies will be read, cherished, and find homes on the winners’ keeper shelves.

Unfortunately not every ARC has an HEA (Happily Ever After). I was surprised and upset when I found an ARC at a local bookstore earlier this week. Remember an author, agent, and a publisher do not earn money or sales credit on an ARC. That’s why review copies are limited and labeled with a NOT FOR SALE warning. I debated about what to do, because I was certain the ARC would be sold and probably resold numerous times regardless of whether I complained or not.

I researched the issue and discovered almost 4,000 records of ARCs for sale on eBay. Evidently acquiring and selling review copies is big business for the “Raiders of the Lost ARCs.” I even found a review copy of a book, which hasn’t been released for public sale. I contacted the author, and her agent is pursuing the matter.

You may not agree with me, but I decided to buy the ARC at the bookstore for two reasons. First I wanted to rescue it from a life of resale, which would rob the author of future income and sales credit. Second I will see the author at a conference next month and plan to return the ARC and the sales receipt proof of what the bookseller did.

What do you think?

Links to articles about NOT selling ARCs:

Here is a humorous video about what happens when an author doesn’t want to give away her last ARC.


  1. What happens to ARCs after the reviewer is done reading is something I had not thought of before. I’m not surprised that some people are trying to turn it into a business. That is horrible! Usually I keep the ARCs I receive. I have given one to a friend and donated one to the local library. I am glad you rescued that ARC from the bookstore. It will be interesting to see the author’s reaction when you show her the book.

  2. yay! you’re the rescuer of lost ARC’s – I love it and YES you should do it. what’s sad is… whomever that person was trusting to read the preview copy sold it.

  3. The video is hilarious, and not so far from the truth. I ordered a book last year to help with research and I was thrilled when I received an ARC copy. This book was special. I hadn’t thought of returning it to the author, but now I’ll keep that in mind.

  4. Thank you so much for notifying me about the ARC of THE MATCHMAKERS that’s on eBay. It’s not even out until Nov. 20 and I didn’t realize the arc had gone to reviewers. I’ve made unsuccessful efforts to get in touch with both the seller and eBay but will continue. Thanks for your crusade!

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