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I guess it’s time to admit it: I’m kind of a hipster. I’m a broke liberal arts student who shuns material possessions, researches the ethics of food, and perks up every time I hear the word “Vintage.” If something is popular, I tend to ignore it. If something can be (mis)construed as a status symbol, I ignore it with every fiber of my hipster being.
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I’ve noticed that my hipster-ish tendencies extend to the blogosphere. Many bloggers seem to be obsessed with acquiring ARCs (Advanced Reader Copies). Even though it’s completely irrational, seeing this obsession in other bloggers makes me not want ARCs. I’ve had my blog for three years now, and I’ve never reviewed an ARC. It’s rare for me to even review a new release. Almost all of my reviews are of backlist books.*
Since I’m very familiar with reviewing publishers’ backlists, I thought I’d share the pros and cons of sticking to the oldies.
*I’m defining “backlist books” as books that were published at least six months ago.
So You Want To Review Backlist Books?
No ARC drama: ARC envy? Selling ARCs? Greedy bloggers at conferences? Constant ARC-related whining on Twitter? I can just sit back and roll my eyes (in that smug hipster way) at all the people behaving badly. The ARC drama does make bloggers look unprofessional, and it has hurt some of my blogger friends (which fills me with rage), but since I don’t review ARCs, it’s never had a huge impact on me personally.
No pressure or deadlines: I don’t have to worry about NetGalley percentages or getting reviews up on time. I also don’t feel any pressure to keep up with the new books that are coming out. I read what I want, when I want. If I don’t post a review of a certain book, nobody cares.
Individuality: Sometimes, when I’m scrolling through Bloglovin’, it seems like every post is a review of the same super-hyped ARC or new release. There aren’t many hyped books on my blog.
Financially supporting authors and bookstores: I know that reviewing ARCs does support authors and bookstores, but when I pay money for a book, I know that my dollars are helping keep the things I love alive.
Forever alone: One of the most common comments on my blog is, “I’ve never heard of that book.” Since I usually don’t read what everybody else is reading, I miss out on a lot of excellent bookish conversations.
No “free” books: Books are expensive. Almost all of my books are used or scratch-and-dent, so they’re cheaper than new books, but they still cost money. I understand that ARCs aren’t really free because you have to put a lot of time and effort into your blog before publishers even consider you for ARCs, but still, reviewers aren’t supposed to pay money for ARCs. ARCs are given away in exchange for reviews.
Pageviews? What pageviews? If you want a lot of people to visit your blog, don’t review backlist books. I put a stupid amount of time into my book reviews. Seriously, those things take me days to write. A review of a new release on my blog gets way more attention than a review of a backlist book. Since I rarely review new releases, my reviews don’t get many views. The backlist reviews I post on Goodreads usually get 0-1 “Likes.”
I don’t get to help build hype: Hype is actually a good thing. (My hipster brain exploded slightly when I typed that.) Hyped books make the money that allows authors, publishers, and booksellers to keep doing what they do. The hype for backlist books is either already over or never happened, so I don't get to be part of it.
Let’s discuss: Do you review ARCs, new releases, backlist books, or all three? Do you have any pros or cons to add to the list?