Finished Copies vs. ARCs: Do You Have a Preference?

Every now and again I’m asked if I want to host a giveaway of finished copies or ARCs of a book. Postage and book prices being what they are everywhere, especially in Australia, I generally like doing book giveaways because hey, winning some books is a good thing, especially if it’s an author you adore or an author you’d like to try in a no-risk manner.

But here’s my question: sometimes I can get print ARCs and sometimes I can get finished copies. And I’d like to know: which do you prefer?

Since these prizes are for you, not me, I’d like to get a sense of your preference, especially because I try to ship worldwide whenever I possibly can. These are your potential prizes, not mine!

So! Have a handy poll—and if you have comments, please, I’d like to hear them.

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Random Musings

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  1. 1

    I love ARCs because I can never wait for the latest book to be published.  I also love to lord it over my friends when I get to read a book before they do.

    Is that childish?  You bet it is and I don’t care!

  2. 2
    Brianna says:

    I’ve never actually read an ARC. Is there much difference between it and the finished copy?

  3. 3
    Anony Miss says:

    I love ARCs because
    a) you feel COOL, like you are SPECIAL, not like those plebian CONSUMERS
    b) if I’m reading an ARC, I forgive typos and similar errors, “assuming” they will be caught before the final printing. ;)

  4. 4
    Batty Tabby says:

    Even though I said in the poll that I “don’t care” I am curious about ARCs. I would love to win one.

  5. 5
    Virginia E says:

    Personally, I’ll read final copies, ARC’s, Galley, and/or text files from the author. That’s speaking as a reader. However, as a former bookseller and friend to a number of authors, I have to say this isn’t the same thing.
    Sometimes, ARC’s differ from the final copy because someone catches an error or discrepancy in time to correct it before the book goes to press. I’ve been there and understand that. Not everyone understands that.
    I think it needs to be up to an author to state their preference. Some people will want a final copy after they won the ARC. Some won’t and that means lost income and sales figures. Some folks will share their prize with their family and friends. Granted, it’s not eBook file-sharing since there’s only the one print copy wandering around, but if it’s an ARC making the rounds before people can even buy the final copy, the impact can add up.

  6. 6
    TrishJ says:

    I have never read an Arc.  But since I love to read … And it would be like sneaking a peak before everyone else … I’m all for it.  ;)

  7. 7
    Dana says:

    I prefer finished copies, because ARC’s occasionally are missing scenes that are present in the final version (although I suppose the reverse could be true as well). At one point I read the finished copy of a book, then picked up an ARC from somewhere of the same book – only to find it was missing one of my favorite (and I thought pivotal) scenes that was present in the finished copy. Totally ruined my enjoyment of the ARC, which I quickly tossed and went out and actually spent the money for the finished copy.

  8. 8
    Flo says:

    Give. It.  To.  Me.  Now!

    That’s really all that matters.  I’ll ever beta read into the wee hours of the morning while using the comment section in word to leave spastic and, theoretically, insightful comments.

  9. 9
    Danielle D (Dani) says:

    To me I would love either one!!!!  Especially if it’s a book that I’ve been wanting to read.

  10. 10
    CateS says:

    I’ve only read one ARC and while I caught some errors, they didn’t reallyl impact the story for me.  But then again, I’ve caught errors in regular books…

  11. 11
    Carin says:

    I voted a book is a book, but there is a certain thrill you get when holding a book/ARC that isn’t available to everyone yet!

    I also wanted to say that my preferred format would be digital.  I know that doesn’t work for everyone, but I appreciate it when that’s an option.

  12. 12

    I’ll read either but I’m like everyone else here—give it to me as quick as you can if it’s an author I love. I have won an ARC before and I’ve got to admit it was pretty cool lording it over some of my friends that I had the first book in Mary Janice Davidson’s new series like 3 months before it hit stores.

    The only thing is, I think if you’re going to give away an ARC the author should go out of their way to make it special since it’s poorer quality pubbing. Maybe sign it or even personalize it. It takes what? Two extra minutes?

  13. 13

    I really don’t mind. If someone wants to give me a story, I don’t care how it comes :-)

  14. 14
    Tee says:

    I prefer finished books versus ARCs.  I’ve read some ARCs that had numerous errors that were corrected in the final release, would much rather have waited and enjoyed that book from a favorite author without the mistakes that interrupted the reading experience!  You don’t get your first chance to enjoy a book later – the plot is revealed etc.  Later I saw that people had rated the books highly, but I had not enjoyed them that much.  Not worth reading the ARCs!

  15. 15
    Suzy says:

    I’ll take a book in any manner that I can get it!! I like prepubs (ARCs) because I get to read them early.  If I get them “used” from someone, then I’m also happy because I got to read the book!!

    If it is a book that I really want a keeper copy, then I’ll buy a keeper copy. (or find one used)

    and I like the exclusivity of getting an ARC!

  16. 16

    I prefer finished copies or eARCs.

  17. 17
    Sycorax says:

    The ‘especially in Australia’ thing makes me very sad. Thank the gods for ebooks and second hand book shops.

  18. 18
    Laurie Boris says:

    As a writer, I’m very interested in the results of your poll and your readers’ comments, so I’ll know what to send (and if I should load up on the ARCs next time!) By the way, what do you think about receiving an electronic file for review instead of print?

  19. 19
    Katherine says:

    What I want is an electronic copy of whatever it is – ARC or finished copy. Please oh please, I do not want any more paper.

  20. 20
    J9 says:

    I review for multiple websites so I often get ARCs and while great for writing the reviews so they’re online when the actual book is released, I hate having the ARCs after.  I don’t know what to do with them!  I can’t in good conscience give them away because however unlikely, the publisher or author may know I gave the book away, and I’ll feel guilty.  If the book is a regular paperback then I can just give it away or donate it somewhere.  ARCs with their yellow ugly covers just sit in stacks at my house.  I’m with Carin here, I prefer digital for both reviewing and purchasing—just keeps the house neater!

  21. 21
    Kathleen O says:

    I have only won 1 ARC copy… but if it is a story I will take it in any context…

  22. 22
    darlynne says:

    I voted for “a book is a book,” but would prefer digital editions, if possible. There are quite a few ARCs on my shelves and I share the dilemma others have mentioned about what to do with them when I’m done.

    Our UBSs won’t take them (nor should they) and I can’t bring myself to destroy them, so they sit here, whether they’re true keepers or not. I suppose I should have said I prefer a finished book, but, honestly, that made me feel ungrateful; we’re talking giveaways after all, for which the only response my mother would allow is “thank you.”

  23. 23
    GrowlyCub says:

    In an ideal world, the issues in ARCs would be corrected in the finished version; and that was true for many years; lately, however, it seems that that is no longer the case.

    I’m baffled by the idea that sharing an ARC is somehow detrimental or shame-inducing (note I didn’t say sell them on ebay).  Word of mouth is what drives sales.  If an ARC is shared by 5 readers and each tells their friends and 2 each of those people buy and tell more friends…

    If you don’t feel you can give ARCs away in contests, why not donate them to nursing homes or women’s shelters?

    I voted for ‘finished version’ because I want the ‘whole story’ with as few typos, grammar goofs, wrong word usage, anachronisms and binding errors, although I’m starting to get the idea from the ARCs/final versions I’ve read lately that soon there won’t be a difference any longer.

  24. 24
    Cakes says:

    While I happily read either, I agree with J9 in the what to do with it after dilemma. I use donate, use Paperback Swap, or my used paperback store regularly.  You can’t do any of that with an ARC.

    My curbside recycling takes paperback books, so that is an option here. But, I HATE the thought of that.

  25. 25
    Nikki says:

    The problem with an ARC is that I always want to e-mail the author and tell them where errors showed up.  So, if I got a finished copy and it still had errors, I would want to cross check.  Because I am neurotic like that.  The worst part is when you reread and start noticing errors you glossed over the first time around in the sprint for the finish.

    However, I am equal opportunity and love books anyway I can get them.

  26. 26
    Laurie Boris says:

    I don’t know about other publishers, Nikki, but mine asked me to take one ARC, mark up all the errors, and send it back in for the final pass. But I know what you mean. Reading through typos and grammatical errors is distracting.

  27. 27
    Erica Anderson says:

    For reading purposes, I don’t care if it’s an ARC or a final version, but I have a big problem with resale of ARCs, which seems to be a common practice. I’ll share my ARCs with friends or donate them. My suspicion is that most authors don’t have a problem with that, but I’m willing to be corrected.

  28. 28
    Lisa A says:

    Sarah, I assume I’m like the majority of visitors to this site in that I’ve never seen/read an ARC., so it’s a little bit hard to say.  Based on the comments here, that there can be a lot of errors, or even different scenes added between ARC and final, I’m voting final copy.

    Though an ARC sounds like a fun glimpse into the creation of a book, I’d forever be curious about what happened with the finished publication.

  29. 29
    Lisa J says:

    I’m with Katherine – either is fine, just make it an e copy.

  30. 30
    Silver James says:

    There’s a rather “cool kid on the block” feeling about reading an ARC, IMO. You get the skinny right up there with the reviewers and other “in” folks. But a free read is a free read and I love books. Digital, paper, ARCs, release copies. Gimme BOOKS!

    Greedy? Me? *looks shifty-eyed*

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