About ARCs and Why It Is Okay to Not Read All the Things

Here is the sad truth: ARCs make me anxious. I love having the opportunity to read them and I love getting to flail about books ahead of time but the thing is, as I become more invested in my college career, I don’t have much time to read. As a result I cannot read all the ARCs I receive even though it isn’t a large amount.  

When 2016 started, I wanted it to be different. I wanted to actually enjoy the ARCs I received instead of forcing myself to read them. So far it has been going well because even though I am still nervous when it comes to ARCs, I feel a lot better now that I have realized that while receiving ARCs is a great honor, it isn’t an obligation.

As book bloggers, we essentially provide advertisement without charging, at least, all the people I have talked to do not receive any monetary compensation for their work. We are not in this for the money but because we love talking about books and sharing our love for books. If you put it in that perspective, we shouldn’t be obligated to review everything we receive. We are not a business, we are just people who love fangirling and book pushing (which should be a job because then at least I’d know for sure what to do with my life…)

So what is the point of this post, you ask? It’s basically to remind everyone that it is OKAY to not read all the ARCs and it’s okay to not read something you requested. It can be stressful, but when blogging becomes a job, that’s when it might become a problem.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with you wanting to make money out of blogging; however, going down that road can be difficult because then you become tied up in obligations and figuring out if you are actually getting paid a fair wage.

If you think about it, most of us put over 10 hours a week into blogging (some even putting as much as 40.) In fact, when I had more time and wasn’t struggling to keep up with my own workload and shiz, I spent at least two hours a day just commenting on blogs. This doesn’t count replying to comments on my own posts or the time spent setting up, writing, and editing posts. So, when we are putting as much time into blogging as would be required by a part time or even a full time job, but don’t treat it as work, how can we feel as though we are REQUIRED to do anything?

Many of us at one point or another have been stressed out by by blogging or felt like blogging is taking over our lives in a bad way, but the important thing to remember is that for most of us, THIS IS A HOBBY. While we get to work with publishers at a professional level, we aren’t professionals since we don’t receive any monetary compensation for our work. So feeling like we should either hold ourselves back when requesting ARCs or feeling  guilty for not reviewing everything we receive seems unfair. We put too much time and effort into blogging–something we consider a hobby–to feel pressured with all the stigmas surrounding ARCs and reviewing them. 

Long story short: Read at your own pace, do your own thing and don’t let anyone/anything make you feel like you are not blogging right by not being able to read all the books.


Side note: This post was inspired in parts by my friends Amber and Shannon’s posts on ARCs which you can read here and here.

So, how do you feel about ARCs? Are they required reading or not? Should we feel bad for not reviewing everything? What makes us different from professionals? Tell me all the things.

The featured image in this post was designed using a vector from Freepik

The following two tabs change content below.


Rashika is a mysterious creature who likes to hide in the shadows. It's impossible to get to know her but if you must know, she is a huge bookworm. She also happens to have a huge sweet tooth so you can always lure her over the dark side by offering her something sweet (or bribing her with books).


    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published.

    CommentLuv badge

  1. says

    This is so true! I don’t request from pubs, so I don’t very many ARCs (no where near as much as some people on Twitter have!), so I don’t really feel the pressure. Sometimes I request too many from Netgalley though, and I can get a bit stressed about them all! It can be hard to read them all, but there’s posts like this to remind me that I don’t have to read them all ;)

    Thank you for sharing this!
    Denise | The Bibliolater
    Denise recently posted…Review: All of the AboveMy Profile

  2. says

    I think that if you requested those ARC’s you should read them because you asked the publisher for that particular ARC. Whether it’s via e-mail or Netgalley/Edelweiss, doesn’t matter. There’s a certain obligation that comes with requesting a review copy, in my opinion. You can request less books, that’s totally up to you.
    When you just get copies sent to you without having asked for them, I don’t feel like you’re obligated to read them at all. :)
    Bee @ Quite the Novel Idea recently posted…{Bee Reviews} You Were Here by Cori McCarthyMy Profile

  3. says

    I have ARCs that have been waiting around for me to read them since the beginning of last year, and I will read those when I feel like it. I’m such a mood-reader anyway, that ‘forcing’ myself to read a book just because it’s supposed to be released soon might end up being a disaster, and I could hate a book I’d normally love.
    I agree, as long as blogging is our hobby, we should not feel obliged to do anything at all, read when we feel like it, and post when we want to.
    Great post, Rashika!
    Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookviews recently posted…Outlander – Same Story, Different Media: The NovelMy Profile

  4. says

    I love those owls in your picture :) If you want an author’s perspective (only speaking for myself but probably other people feel like this), I don’t think you should ever feel even slightly obligated to read/review an ARC sent to you that you don’t request. You’re getting those either because the publisher has kept track of your tastes/blog following and thinks it’s worth the risk to burn the ARC + postage on you or because the publisher just sends stuff out willy-nilly. Either way, if you get the ARC and don’t want to read it, that’s on them.

    The thing with requesting ARCs and not reading them–you’re right, receiving a $10 ARC isn’t an obligation to spend 4 hours reading and 2 hours reviewing. I mean, jeez, even I make more than $1.66/hr as an author :D Plus the publisher shouldn’t be filling requests willy-nilly either, unless they have more ARCs than they know what to do with, in which case it’s better for it to sit on your shelf where your friend/sister/mom might see it than it is to sit in a box in an office or warehouse.

    All I would like people to think about is this: If you’re not going to read an ARC, could you maybe pass it on to your mom/sister/friend or run an in-country giveaway or donate it to your teacher’s classroom or a children’s hospital, etc. with minimal inconvenience to you? That way at least you’re still contributing to the book’s possible success, which is what publishers are hoping for when they send out ARCs. And if you can’t, that’s totally fine. But if you can, why not?

    An ARC is part of a budgeted marketing amount for a book. If it goes unread, that’s a few marketing dollars this book loses. When you flip your ARC over and it has 26 bullet points of marketing, and some of them are things like national tour, print advertising in Teen magazine, trailer to be played in theaters before Insurgent, etc. that book is most likely getting over $100,000 in marketing. (For example, The Fifth Wave had an announced marketing budget of $500,000. That’s how much money was allotted to promote it, not counting the advance paid to the author or costs to edit, produce, and ship it, etc.) However, if you flip your ARC over and it has 4 dots, most of which are “We will cross-promote with the author’s social media” that book (and I say book, not author, because marketing can vary from book-to-book) has a much smaller marketing budget–maybe $5000? No one ever announces the small numbers in publishing so that’s an educated guess on my part. For the smaller title at a big publisher or any title at a smaller/indie publisher, each unread ARC means a bigger piece of the pie wasted.

    I’m not expecting bloggers to try to make reading decisions based on which books need more publicity. I just figured maybe knowing that sometimes your early review is a tiny drop in a huge bucket but sometimes your early review might be one of ten total that a book gets might encourage people to pass on ARCs they know they’re not going to get to. Or even if that doesn’t happen, if you do read the ARC a year later, take the time to still post a review. Reviews never stop being important. Oh, and if you hear of anyone with Vicarious ARCs they don’t want, I’m already so low on that I would absolutely pay the postage to have a few more ;)

    Thanks for a thoughtful and honest post.

  5. says

    I wonder if some of the panic people feel about ARCs is increased by the expectations of the publishers. For the most part, publishers send out a “free” book and the expectation has become that they get a review. The more reviews (by those who have a lot of followers) creates hype and that equals more sales. The issue is that it has become EXPECTED. If say X Book Blogger has 1,000 followers and they rave about an ARC that the publisher maybe spent $10 to make and create (I’m not sure how much for exact numbers). They then get 200 of their followers to buy this book they will have provided the publishing company with (saying each book is $12) $2,490 worth of what essentially free marketing that they would have had to PAY an adult marketing a paycheck to do.

    The point of my long rant is I have come to see that a big part of the stress with ARCs is the expectation that the publishers put on young book bloggers who are enthusiastic about reading. ARCs are great, but I feel that publishers have started to expect more of young people who have lives (jobs, schools) to do the job of marketing people who get PAID a salary to do what they do. They are a business after all.
    Lynette F recently posted…Do You Believe in Magic?|A Darker Shade of Magic ReviewMy Profile

  6. says

    Truly thank you for this because it is a great reminder and one that I know, I seriously needed. Especially this year since I’m trying so hard to read just for me and not for ARCs or obligations.
    kindlemom1 recently posted…Short HiatusMy Profile

  7. says

    Yes. This post. I think sometimes we all get caught up in the requesting process, especially since we only know the synopsis. But as the release date comes closer and closer, more reviews pop up, and that can ultimately determine whether you want to read the ARC or not still. And if you are reading reviews and seeing there are things that you probably won’t enjoy about the ARC, why read it if you can read another book you’ll enjoy more? And I don’t think requesting less books will solve this problem. Because this could happen to the ONE ARC you requested because you were really anticipating it.

    There’s also the thing about physical ARCs at book conventions, like BEA. Sometimes you’ll pick up a book you aren’t sure you’ll like, but because there is such a mad rush to pick up everything (le sigh), it’s really hard to not get caught up in it. Like I have a couple of ARCs from ALA that I probably won’t be able to read before their release date, especially when SO MANY are released on the same day! But I will definitely still read them, then post a review later. Just not before release. Then there are some where I just am not interested in anymore because of early reviews/topic or plot, etc. I hope to donate them or give them away, or something. Read them a year from now maybe?

    Overall, I think the conclusion is that you should be able to do whatever you want. Sure, I think there is a responsibility when you request, but I think people have to remember that you can’t police ARCs. Plus, no one will keep track of all the ARCs you request or have. No one is going to be like “Yo Rashika you received 1342 ARCs in October, where are all your reviews?”
    Valerie recently posted…Guest Review: The Book Thief MovieMy Profile

  8. says

    I have gone exclusively eARCs now, and seeing that that basically costs the publisher zero, I do not feel bad if I do not get to them in a timely manner. I really want to start doing some personal reading and I haven’t been able to do that in a while. Thanks for this post, Rashika. :)
    La La in the Library recently posted…BLOGGER LOVE-A-THON 2016My Profile

  9. says

    Totally agree *nods* And I think, also, that if we know our life is getting hectic and stuff, it is better not to request too many ARCs? Because I know sometimes I over-request and that’s my fault. XD I do I feel like if I don’t want the pressure of them, I shouldn’t be asking for them. Which feels fair to the publishers, right? (And doesn’t help with unsolicited ARCs of course…because that’s haaaaard. I always feel bad for skipping, but I would never have requested the book otherwise? So it is awkward. :/ ) But blogging does need to be fun, especially since it’s mostly a hobby for a lot of us. *nods* Plus being stressed over the books which we love so much??? Nooooot good. XD
    Cait @ Paper Fury recently posted…Do You Procrastinate Reading Books You’re 99% Positive You’ll Love?My Profile

  10. says

    This is such an important post. I’m trying to adopt the same mentality as you. ARCs are a nice bonus and definitely not required for book blogging. I try not to force myself to read them just for the sake of getting a review up. I don’t have time for that and forcing myself to read the them when I’m not in the mood for a book like that isn’t going to lead to a positive experience, especially since I’m not being paid for the reading time or review. If I was a professional reviewer and being paid, then it’s a different story.

    I feel bad not reviewing definitely, so my goal is to read and review my ARCs eventually. I’m happy to let the ARCs sit there for a while, months even, until I have the time/mood to read them. A late review is better than none, you can bring attention to it after the hype has gone down and still bring new readers. Even a well balanced, fair DNF review could be better than no review. Still, I’m on a requesting ban right now because of time constraints and uncontrollable TBR and really don’t need to add more ARCs.

    Publishers are also aware that we don’t have a lot of time. At a book event Penguin Teen Australia hosted last year, they told us not to stress about ARCs being read late or not at all. Reading is supposed to be fun, and forcing yourself to rush through books and read against a deadline if you don’t have to starts to suck the joy out of things.
    Bec @ Readers in Wonderland recently posted…5 Things About Winter by Marissa MeyerMy Profile

  11. says

    You’re so right. Bloggers get so stressed over something that started out as a HOBBY. We don’t get paid or compensation and considering the amount of work, effort, time, money that goes into it all, it’s kind of crazy when you step back and think about it. You shouldn’t feel bad AT ALL. Again, we started blogging from a place of love and when it starts stressing you out, it’s not worth it. It don’t want to read a review copy or ARC or you don’t have the time, come back to it later or pass it on. Simply enough, right? But I get it’s something a lot of bloggers struggle with.
    Rebecca @ Reading Wishes recently posted…Goodbye For NowMy Profile

  12. says

    So. Where to even begin!? A few things: I consider myself a rabid “read all the ARCs I request” sort of person. I also do NOT think we have an obligation to do so. Look at me, contradicting myself so early! Let me back up. I request a book only with 110% intent of reading it. Meaning, I never request a book on “meh, maybe I will read it”. That said, shit happens. I have about 4 ARCs (that I requested, this is) from last year that I haven’t read, all eARCs. I always, always read physical ones- though I WOULD DNF it if I hated it THAT much- which you also know I rarely do, yet do not begrudge anyone else doing so. So yeah, sometimes life happens, or you end up hearing AWFUL things about a book, whatever. I LOVE what Paula said- and I will try to go comment on that too- about passing them along- this is something I try very hard to do, especially with unsolicited books that I know I won’t read (like if they’re the 5th in a series I never read or something).

    Now, the tricky part. I have seen so much “ARC shaming” in posts, on social media, whatever. All the “don’t request them if you can’t read them” sort of thing. My issues with that are twofold:
    1) You cannot possibly know what is happening in someone’s life, and what they’re dealing with. I highly doubt that most of us take the TIME to request books that we have no intention of reading.
    2) Frankly, it isn’t my business if someone else reads an ARC. That’s between the blogger and the publisher and/or author. Not my business. I’d like to meet anyone who has time to be the ARC Police, because I have a LOT of stuff they can do ;)

    Bottom line on my feelings: I feel like it’s already a given, but don’t ask for books you know you won’t read. Why would anyone do that? Honestly, I can’t think of a logical reason. Give the books you HAVE requested your best shot. Just because it’s the right thing to do, since you did ask for it for review and all. But never feel bad if there is a reason you can’t read it. If it’s unsolicited, all bets are off. You have no obligation at all. If you might like it, great! If not, give it to your mom- Paula is on point with that, since I DO give some to my mom!

    At the end of the day, you have to do what works for you- what keeps you sane. If you can’t get to a book, don’t beat yourself up, life happens. And more importantly, no one else should make you feel bad either!
    Shannon @ It Starts At Midnight recently posted…The 100 Episode 3×05 “Hakeldama”My Profile

  13. says

    I do like getting ARCs, but that pressure thing is totally a problem. I’ve said yes to ARCs I didn’t really want because the author themselves asked me and I didn’t want to… hurt their feelings? IDK, or because I felt like it was expected of me. I regret it, though, and I’m much quicker with my “no” now — it just spoils the fun if you’re getting stressed about reviewing on time, etc. I only ask for books I reaaaally want.
    Nikki recently posted…Stacking the ShelvesMy Profile

  14. says

    I haven’t really read much ARCs or review copies before, but I did experience quite a few of them. Although I do agree with you on this, I can’t help but still feel obligated to read those copies because I requested them. “What if they get annoyed because I backed out on reviewing the book? Will they hate me? Blacklist me? Become annoyed?!?” I panic at the thought of someone hating me or something just because I couldn’t read their review copy. Thus, I tend to read every single one that I get. >.<

    Hopefully I can gather up the confience to actually remind myself that I'm doing this for free and I can just read books the way I like it sometime. It must be a really good feeling of freedom.

    Great post, Rashika!

  15. says

    This is such a great post and one everyone should read! It is so important to take care of yourself mentally and if reading ARCs is becoming stressful, then it is time to step back and take a break from that! Everyone should read at their own pace and do what they need to to make themselves happy. Great post Rashika!
    Jamie @ Books and Ladders recently posted…REVIEW: EARTH’S END by Elise KovaMy Profile

  16. says

    I do NOT read all the ARC’s. I get so many I don’t request and honestly, some I do download off EW and NG I don’t bother once I read reviews from trusted bloggers. I have so little time to read, I’m not gonna waste it. I don’t think anyone should feel guilty or obligated to read all the arc’s. It’s just not possible…not while keeping reading and blogging fun anyway….
    Nereyda @Nick & Nereyda’s Infinite Booklist recently posted…A Love Letter to Siren’s Song by Mary WeberMy Profile

  17. says

    This is SUCH a great discussion! I request very rarely and am approved even less so I don’t really feel this aspect of the pressure. But yeah, I feel like book bloggers need to reclaim their agency in the waves of ARC-related issues or book signing issues or so on and so forth — we should not be pressured to do anything. Especially since, let’s be honest, reviews aren’t most people’s favourite posts to read.
    Alyssa @ The Devil Orders Takeout recently posted…How Important Is the Author When Reading a Book? | Beyond the Red by Ava JaeMy Profile

  18. says

    Great post Rashika, you obviously know I agree with everything that you’ve said here, I always ind myself overwhelmed with all the ARC books that I get sometimes, and of course I’m such a mood reader as of late, that I don’t want to pick up an ARC in that moment in time, and then I hate it when I force myself to read it because it’s going to be published soon and I end up disliking it. So usually I try not to put all this pressure on myself as it seems to take the fun out of everything.
    Jasprit recently posted…Review: Last Year’s Mistake by Gina CioccaMy Profile

  19. says

    PREACH GIRL^^ We do spend a lot of time blogging, commenting…etc and it’s important to remember that we got into all of this BECAUSE we love reading. If reading becomes a chore, or stressful or just no longer fun, it means we’ve lost sight of why we do this. I do feel the stress sometimes but I’ve gotten MUCH better at requesting less arcs and reading what I WANT WHEN I want it! Fantastic post Rashika! xxxx
    Micheline @ Lunar Rainbows Reviews recently posted…Review: The Son of NeptuneMy Profile

  20. says

    So many people keep trying to tell me that this is a hobby, not my job, but I still freak out when my stats drop, and I agree that I want to enjoy my ARCs. I just want to find that perfect balance, you know? But I love this topic, and thank you for posting. <3
    Lyn Kaye recently posted…February Wrap UpMy Profile

  21. says

    You’re absolutely right – blogging should be fun and for fun. Making it into a job when all you want is a hobby is too much.

    I think what would calm me down most is knowing the numbers behind ARCs. Review rates, etc. (Or maybe that would add to my guilt ;) )
    Xxertz recently posted…Stacking the Shelves, #11My Profile

  22. says

    This is my second time around being a part of the book blogging community and I decided to not mess with ARCs. For me, they just aren’t worth the hassle and I hated how they put parameters around what I was reading. I’m too much of a mood reader to have a pile of books that I feel obligated to read. Heck, I don’t even have a TBR list anymore because it was too stressful for me lol. 2016 is all about me being a ‘free range’ reader and I’m really enjoying it so far :)

    Great post!
    Sara recently posted…Are you Embarrassed by What You Read?My Profile

  23. says

    I just want to clear out my ARC pile so I can actually have no other choice but to reread or get to reading The Kite Runner, which I bought but never actually am in the mood for. I never feel pressured by ARCs and to review them before the pub date, and even though I did recently get in the email list for a pub, I didn’t request anything either because I’m a college student, and I know my workload, and I know the responsibilities of being both a student and a book blogger. It is a hobby, but it’s also a big part of my life, and I like making sure book blogging keeps me happy.
    Shannelle recently posted…Lettering Books from the LibraryMy Profile