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24 July 2015 @ 02:24 pm
The cost of FREE  
One of the most prized books I have right now is an ARC (advanced reader copy) of the marvels by Brian Selznick. I know there are many others who would love to have a chance to see this book ahead of its publication.



I have read it. I plan to re-read it. And then, I will float it on to another reader. I do that with almost every single book I either receive from a publisher or purchase myself. The more readers I can touch with a book, the better.

But there are others out there who look at an ARC as a way to make money. They sell ARCs, something that is unethical and illegal. It does not seem to bother them in the least. Here is one of the ads out there right now.



I have heard people brag about the number of books they get at a conference. I have witnessed people with toppling stacks of the SAME title as they wobble off in search of another bag. I have seen the pictures posted online about how many pounds of books they got for free. Don't get me wrong: everyone could use free books. I get that. But what concerns me are the ones who seem to use ARC and book gathering as some kind of new sport, who carry off books that might not even meet the needs of their own students. I particularly am astonished at the ones who use the largesse of a publisher for profit.

There is no such thing as a FREE book. Each ARC costs money to produce. Each ARC that does not see the eyes of other readers wastes those funds.

A couple of years ago, I surveyed former selection committee members about what they did with the books they received. Their number 1 answer was that they donated books. Some donated to schools and libraries; some donated to hospitals and homeless shelters. I wish that everyone shared their wealth with others. Some of my books go to the new review library we are organizing in our department. Many, many more go to schools and libraries. Next week I will pack the car with bag after bag of books to give away to the educators coming to a 2 day workshop I am presenting with Karin Perry. In the spring I gave hundreds of books to education students at the university when they came to hear some book talks Karin and I did one afternoon.

I pack boxes of books to head off to new homes. BTW, I am not the only one who does this. I know Donalyn Miller does this as well. And John Schu. And Karin Perry. And Rosemary Chance. And countless others.

You see, we know the value of placing books into the hands of other readers. If only the unscrupulous and avaricious folks who grab and gloat and snatch and sell would do the same.
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