Electronic ARCS: yay or nay?

Photo by vlashton (Flickr).
Photo by vlashton (Flickr).

A shorty post for this week, but one that I’ll hope will inspire lots of discussion: electronic Advanced Reading Copies.

The subject of electronics ARCs came up last week on Twitter, where I was, er, lurking on a conversation between @softskull and some bloggers. @softskull was wondering if people would like eARCs instead of paper ARCs, and in what format. That got me thinking– would I like to get review copies emailed to me?

I have no problem reading ebooks (obviously), and so I think I could quite like reading eARCs, Of course they’d have to be in a format that I could read on my iPod (ePub, maybe?), but I can’t help worrying about DRM. Once someone’s given me a book, I want to keep it (until I don’t). If my ebook has restrictive DRM on it, even an ARC, how can I be assured that I’d be able to keep it for as long as I want? What if my iPod dies and I lose all my files– will I be able to get those books back? What if I get another ebook reader and want to transfer my books? (This is why I haven’t bought an ebook yet, by the way.) I’d especially hate to have my eARCs expire after a certain period of time, like some etextbooks.

So, let’s see. How about a list of the pros and cons?


  • Cheaper than sending through UPS/FedEx.
  • Faster than sending through UPS/FedEx.
  • More convenient for those who have ebook readers.
  • Review copies can be sent out to lots more people.
  • Can’t be resold for extra cash.


  • Might have (probably will have) super restrictive DRM.
  • Ebooks often aren’t as pretty as paper books (that’s being fixed in certain publishing houses, though), and some formats might look weird on my iPod, thus making me less likely to read them.
  • Can’t be resold for extra cash.
  • Can’t be given away to other people who want to review it (ala this LibraryThing thread).

What do you all think? Would you read an electronic ARC? Do you have any more pros or cons that I’ve missed?

0 thoughts on “Electronic ARCS: yay or nay?”

  1. I’ve been using the books from http://www.ereader.com for a few years now.
    Once I’ve bought an ebook, I can read it on my computer, on my Windows Mobile phone, on my symbian phone or on my palm pda.
    I seem to think they do iPhone software now too.
    The book’s mine forever, and if I need to reformat my hard drive, I can download it from my bookshelf again (and again, indefinitely) and I unlock it with my credit card number (which I can change, on the account section of their website)

    I love my eBooks. I have a few dozen books loaded in to the memory card on my phone all the time… dictionary, thesaurus, kids books to keep the kids occupied when we’re in Doc’s waiting room etc.

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