I want to believe that my experience at a local Half Price Books store was a fluke. A mishap on the part of a new employee. A sick twist in the time space continuum, where it forced everything to be backward for a short span of time?
I don’t even think that last bit made sense, but let’s just go with it. Kthanks.
Yesterday I went shopping with my family, and Half Price Books was on our list of stops. I’ve been known to pop into the few locations around me, sometimes several times a week. Looking for something new, something for a giveaway, something unique. Never in all my time shopping there have I ever found an ARC on their shelves. So when this very thing happened yesterday, you can bet your bottom bookmark I was a bit ticked off.
Below is the letter I wrote to the customer care department of Half Price Books, and I think sharing it should sum up my feelings for you:
Dear Customer Care for Half Price Books,
I have to say that I was rather taken aback at my experience in Half Price Books yesterday. I have been shopping at HPB for years, and I've been known to be in several times a week to several different locations. Never once have I ever seen what I saw yesterday at your Roseville Minnesota location.
While perusing the Young Adult section with my daughter, I came across not one or two, but several ARC's, (Advanced Readers Copies). Uncorrected proofs used by a publishing house for promotional reasons. As a writer, a book reviewer and having friends who are published authors, I know these books are not intended for sale and in fact on 99% of the books, it has it says so on the cover. I will go ahead and say I could understand a few of the copies being on the shelves, as they didn't actually say Not For Sale on it, and one could argue that obviously leaves you able to sell it. Even though it is labeled an ARC and the knowledge of what it is, remains.
However, one book in fact did have Not For Sale printed quite plainly on the cover. The sale sticker placement shows it was clearly positioned in a way that was an effort to actually cover it. The ARC was POSSESSION by Elana Johnson, a YA novel. I took the copy to the counter when I checked out, because I believed or at least hoped the ARC's wound up on the shelf due to some mishap, even though the number of them and intake dates on the labels certainly suggest otherwise.
I handed the copy to the cashier, and quietly said I thought she should take the copy off the shelf along with the handful of others I found, as it was illegal to sell them. She smiled at me like she thought it was "so cute I thought I knew what I was talking about", and said "No, this is an uncorrected proof, that's all" and went back to ringing up my items. At this point I was a little upset to find out the ARCs on the shelf clearly were not accidentally put there, the staff knew they were there, what they were and were still being instructed to sell them. I smiled, politely even though I was being talked down to, and said "I know what they are. They say very clearly on the covers Not For Sale. It's illegal to sell them." She set the book to the side while we finished the transaction and I went home with my family hoping the girl would do the right thing.
Now, I like to always think the best of people, but I'm willing to bet that book went right back to the shelf after I left. And I'm willing to bet if I stop back into the shop over the next few days I will find more ARCs on the shelf. If I should stop in, and if I should find more ARCs I fully intend to contact the author and publisher with the info for them to reach out in whatever manner they feel fit. I intend to do this very thing in this case as well.
I think this total lack of respect for the very same publishing process that keeps you in business is despicable. I hope that my e-mail sets wheels in motion for you to remind your locations that the selling of ARCs is illegal, as well as immoral. You are selling novels, in some cases, that are not even published and on bookshelves yet. This effects the author, their sales and even the possibility of sequels potentially. One ripple in the pond can effect dozens of aspects of that one authors world, and you shove it aside for your bottom line.
I hope that I will not find ARCs on your shelves from here on out. Sadly if I do I will be forced to stop shopping at HPB because I refuse to support a book store that has such a blatant disregard for the very community that keeps their doors open.
To my readers, to bloggers, to anyone who has the ability to receive the gift of ARC’s from publishers, authors or elsewhere – please RESPECT them. Do not sell them and if you donate them please be sure the place you are giving them too will use them for good!!