Ethics of Review Copies

I mentioned on Monday that I had received my author copies of Red Hood’s Revenge, which means review copies should also be available.  If you’re a reviewer and would like DAW to send you a copy of Red Hood (or any of my DAW titles), please let me know and I’ll see what we can do.


Earlier this week I stumbled into a conversation about the practice of reviewers turning around and selling review copies on eBay.  This includes both advanced review copies (ARCs) and copies of the finished books.

I admit I get a little annoyed when I see one of my ARCs up for sale before the book comes out.  Come on, people.  The ARC says “Not for resale” for a reason.  It just feels rude.

It’s also not something I’m going to waste a lot of time worrying about.  For something like Harry Potter, I understand why it’s important to keep spoilers locked down until the release date.  For the rest of us — for me — why is this a big deal?  Why should I care if a handful of review copies leak out ahead of time?  Uncool, yes.  But on the list of things worth my time and stress, this isn’t even a footnote.

It turns out some people are quite passionate about reviewers selling their books.  In one comment, I learned that not worrying about ARCs on eBay meant I was supporting all of The Evil Book Pirates.  I was also told I should get a job at BP telling people their oil spill “isn’t worth stressing about” either.  (The BP bit did include the rhetorical “Ha ha, I’m just kidding” trick at the end.  As it turns out, adding “Just kidding” does not alter the fact that you’re saying something asinine.)

So I’m curious what other people think.  Should reviewers be prohibited from selling review copies?  Does it make a difference if it’s an ARC or a finished book?  What about solicited vs. unsolicited books?  I.e., if I beg Tor for a review copy of Tobias Buckell‘s latest, are my reselling obligations different than if a a publicist sends me a book I didn’t ask for?

Discussion and disagreement are welcome, as always.  However, if you try to equate the Review Copy Gray Market with BP spilling millions of barrels of oil into our oceans, please understand that you will be mocked and sporkstabbed.

Even if you’re “just kidding.”