Thursday, October 28, 2010

Do publishers need to rethink their approach to egalleys? Or, where I whine about my inability to get everything I want for free

It started when I read Michelle from Galleysmith's review of Carrie Philby by Caren Lissner. The heroine sounded quirky and independent, and I wanted to check it out. She had gotten it through NetGalley, but I couldn't find it there. I did find three other novels while browsing around to request. Imagine my disappointment when the first was returned within minutes with this email (identifying information removed):

I noted the suggestion about the profile, but my twitter, my blog, my website, and my K12 public school email address are all there. I don't know what other credentials I could supply for the publishers to vet me. I have used NetGalley lots, and have praised its excellent environmental model for delivering materials for selection. And since I am paying to have these files converted for my Kindle, I have a vested interest in being selective as far as requests and have made less than a dozen total.

This rejection plunged into a momentary crisis. Obviously, I had been judged by someone and found lacking to be granted access to this digital file. But the more I thought about it, the more offended I became. To me the refusal of the ARC was an absence of professional courtesy. I'm not a book blogger per se, but I have attended kidlitcon and have chaired and am chairing national library association committees. I write about books here and there, I present about ebooks and wrote about them for the June issue of VOYA. And I know I've sold dozens of copies of Sources of Light, which I first read on NetGalley, through glowing recommendation, and more than a handful of Wildthorn which I read from them as an e-galley, too.

But is it strictly a digital anxiety? I have have publishers mail me copies of ARCs, including the publisher in question. I could digitize and distribute those if piracy was my true intention. But it doesn't make me want to look for the ARC at NCTE or ALA Midwinter. Sour grapes, maybe, but still. So I began to think about what requires the publisher to mediate these requests in the first place. Was it an issue of which book I requested? It was a paranormal romance. Does that make it ripe for pirating?

One of my other requests was granted. I'm waiting to hear about the third. And Carina Press, the digital-only imprint, is going DRM-free...

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