Smugglers Stash

Smugglers’ Stash & News

Hello everyone and Happy Sunday! Thea here, reporting from a very, very hot New York.

Let’s dive right in, shall we?

ARCs and Librarians and Bloggers! Oh My!

If you’ve been around the blogosphere these past two weeks, you’ve likely read the continued post-ALA fallout concerning ARCs, professional shows, librarians, and bloggers. Most notably, this week PW published this article, highlighting the increasing problem of ARCs getting snatched up by rude, greedy “non-professionals” (aka bloggers) at professional shows.

We understand where the ire is coming from. We know that librarians fill a vital part of the publishing ecosystem and admire them as invaluable gatekeepers that introduce readers to books. We love and respect librarians and all that they do for reading and for readers everywhere.

We DO NOt love the caustic tone toward bloggers (observed in the comments of the PW post, and on Twitter over the past few days) – who are portrayed as rude, unprofessional, and apparently only in it to brag about their impressive haul of ARCs. We do not appreciate the one-sided shaming of book bloggers that is going on, and we feel like we HAVE to step in and speak up for our fellow bloggers.

So, what do we think?

We think that the PW article was incredibly one-sided, disregarding bloggers’ perspectives entirely. It was mostly based on Kelly Jensen’s post at Stacked – the post that kicked-off this conversation – and it mentions the now infamous 22-minute video uploaded by a blogger (The Lost Lola) talking about the ARCs she and her sister collected at ALA. But the PW article completely fails to mention The Lost Lola’s well-reasoned response.

We think that the witnessed horrible behavior on both sides of the line was a wake-up call for all of us. Librarians attacked bloggers, bloggers defending themselves by attacking librarians in return, librarians attacked other librarians (all now known as #ARCGate on Twitter). We had not realized the extent of the ill-feelings we all had harbored toward each other, apparently.

We think that we’re all on the same team. We think that bloggers are an invaluable part of the same publishing ecosystem in which librarians play a vital role. Beyond our role as reviewers and critics, we think that bloggers also help spread buzz, awareness, and create some much needed excitement around books. Both of us Book Smugglers are thrilled when we go to BEA or Comic Con or any other conference, trade show or bookish event – not because of “free” books that we can brag about (please, do you have any idea how much it costs us to fly to these shows, take time off of work, and pay for passes?!!?! You think we do all of that for a few “free” ARCs?! DON’T MAKE US LAUGH, INTERNETS.), but because we meet so many fantastic bloggers, authors and publishers, and get hyped up about the thing that we love most of all: BOOKS.

ARCs are just as important to book bloggers as they are to librarians. ARCs are one of the main tools that a publicist or marketer has in their arsenal to build awareness and get the word out for a book, and a lot of this is through bloggers and reviewers. Over the past few years, we have tried to establish the importance and professionalism that book blogging can achieve. Getting ARCs, blogging about them, and potentially reviewing them can be a huge milestone for achieving this level of professionalism for bloggers. Are there cases where bloggers go over the top with the number of ARCs they get? Maybe – but who exactly gets to decide what is over the top? What is an “ideal” or “acceptable” number of ARCs? Both of us Smugglers frequent trade shows and we bring home a large number of ARCs each – surely a number that would be labeled as “greedy” by many of the recent commenters.

Ana & Thea’s BEA 2010 ARC Haul

Our view is simple: as long as these books are being talked about, showed off, reviewed or yes, even given away, it is ALL good. We believe it is very telling that publishers did not wish to comment for the PW article because we have no doubt that in their minds, their mission – to get their books talked about! – has been achieved. There are those who seem to think that one reason for limiting ARC distribution is that bloggers sell books illegally (something we’ve never done, and we don’t know any bloggers that would do this, but it’s an argument we hear ALL THE TIME). The people that cling to this argument have obviously never been to places such as the famous Strand book store in NY where ARCs are shelved and sold (or even some library store sales, where we’ve seen ARCs for sale, for that matter).

We do think that some very valid points have been raised in the course of the conversation, and we understand that librarians feel like they are being pushed out of their own conference and have been denied the tools they need to do their work. But isn’t this the fault of the conference creators and not the bloggers? Instituting a higher entrance fee for bloggers and other non-professionals and limiting access to the show are some interesting viable alternatives to help solve this problem. But we fail to see why enterprising, organized, excited bloggers are getting persecuted for something that is in the hands of show organizers.

And, to answer all of the vitriolic questions out there asking, why do bloggers want to go to a professional show for librarians, anyway? People. The answer is simple.

Why do you think bloggers, such as ourselves, spend countless hours reading, writing posts, working what is essentially a second full-time job? We certainly aren’t making a ton of money off of this (if we make any money at all).

WE DO IT BECAUSE WE LOVE BOOKS. We love reading. We will willingly fork over hundreds – if not thousands! – of dollars a year to buy books, to travel to trade shows and events, to pay for costly webhosting fees and more. We do it all because we love books that damn much. Isn’t that what it all comes down to, after all?

And on that note, let’s talk about books.

This Week on The Book Smugglers:

On Monday, we continue the love for Seraphina (one of Thea’s favorite novels of 2012) with a guest post from the author PLUS a chance to win a copy of the book.

Tuesday, Thea tackles another of her most highly anticipated novels of the year with a review of House of Shadows by the infinitely talented Rachel Neumeier. We’ll also have a guest post from Rachel and a chance to win the book.

On Wednesday, Ana reviews Some Kind of Fairy Tale by Graham Joyce.

And on Thursday, Ana’s back with a review of Fly By Night by Francine Hardinge.

On Friday, we close out the week with a joint review of another highly anticipated title – the charming middle grade sequel to Aliens on Vacation, one of our unexpected favorites last year, Alien on a Rampage by Clete Barrett Smith.

That’s it from us for now! Until tomorrow, we remain…

The Horror Die Cut Collection by Max Dalton

~ Your Friendly Neighborhood Book Smugglers

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  • Liz B
    July 8, 2012 at 5:28 am

    I am saddened, upset, frustrated, and hurt by some of the actions/reactions about the various posts and articles.
    Personally speaking, the term “professional” within the context of this debate has mean “affiliated with ALA,” either thru membership or working at a library. Nothing more, nothing less. As pointed out in my post, anyone (including a blogger) can show they want that connection by joining ALA as an Associate Member. The word, as I’ve used it, or then, as I’ve read it used, has nothing to do with bloggers.
    When used in a broader context (ie beyond audience of/ fee structure of ALA Conf/Meetings), that is, in general conversation, I believe professionalism has more to do with how one acts then the letters one has after their name. People (bloggers or librarians) may or may not be or act professionally.
    My post also addressed such things as the rate structure, etc.
    Ironically enough, the idea of doing a program about ARCS at ALA (as mentioned in the PW article) originated not from this (tho this may be the reason it gets approved) but from seeing some in libraryland (ie those “professionals”) have misunderstandings about what ARCs are, are not, and how they are used within libraryland. (Myself and two others are working on that). I would also like to plan a blogger-librarian joint program for ALA about shared opportunities/working together, because I think both are valued players in the world of reading culture.

  • Liz B
    July 8, 2012 at 5:53 am

    One other quick point: Kelly’s post predated the video being taken down and the post by the bloggers. Kelly mentions both at the end of one of her follow up posts to the initial post:

  • Jane
    July 8, 2012 at 6:18 am

    I was completely taken aback by the anti blogger sentiment expressed by the librarians. I had no idea that there were these feelings, but thinking about it there are seeds of discontent there for a while.

    Publishers are apparently not giving access to librarians, perhaps because they believe that libraries don’t lead to sales. There are several statements from publishers that they are struggling with a “business model” that works with digital lending. publishers reducing access to digital access and seemingly not providing the “perks” to librarians but to others could certainly lead to animosity. Bloggers are a convenient target unfortunately.

    I didn’t realize that bloggers selling books was such a concern. ARCs have been being sold on eBay and at bookstores, like the Strand, for years. I remember finding a Jennifer Crusie ARC at my local HalfPriceBookstore a few years back.

    Bad, grabby behavior is also not the province of bloggers. Indeed, the problems were part of conferences for a while. BEA began banning rolling carts in the exhibit halls a few years ago although you can check a rolled cart or ship your books directly from a fedex kiosk right outside the exhibit hall.

    The girls who paid the $25 fee were doing exactly what the publishers wanted. They obtained books and then they publicized them. Given that ALA set the rate ($25) and publishers determined who to give them out to (whomever paid the rate), those girls did exactly nothing wrong.

    I was seriously disturbed by this idea that access measures one’s importance in the publishing ecosphere and that somehow bloggers were making it difficult for librarians to do their jobs when, in fact, ALA is allowing anyone to register, anyone to attend who pays the fees.

    I mentioned on Twitter that all the bloggers I know loved librarians and a librarian replied something to the effect that they shouldn’t be taking the librarians arcs then. Wow, really? Those ARCs belonged to librarians?

    The seeking out of perceived negative blogger behavior (and I don’t think what those girls did was wrong at all because there was no limit to the books that they could acquire, they did exactly what was permitted, they are not thieves and trolls as one person called them) and then highlighting that behavior. What was the point of making sure it was known that those bloggers were non librarians (as the original post did several times) if not to point out how undeserving those girls were of the ARCs that they were given by the vendors at the trade shows.

    The accusation that those bloggers prevented more deserving people from obtaining arcs was very offensive, as if there is some hierarchy and we bloggers must make sure that we understand that our place is with our head down and standing two steps behind.

    Yes, ALA is a professional meeting, but ALA set the guidelines as to who can become a member; who can pay a fee; who can have access. Those bloggers and every other blogger that attended were well within their rights to obtain ARCs.

    What I took from the PW article is that publishers, the ones who have the right to determine access, have no problem with what bloggers do with those ARCs.

    Finally, I never realized that attending conferences was done with the expectation of swag. In every conference I’ve attended, the conference fee was paid for the purpose of networking and education.

  • Gerd D.
    July 8, 2012 at 6:25 am

    So, Ana not a home in Anaheim?
    (What? Somebody around here has to provide the cheesy jokes.)

    Seriously, what a kafuffle over a few ARC’s, eh?

    I enjoyed reading the Lola’s thought out, and civil post on what felt to me to be a unnecessarily harsh reaction to her video.
    I can understand that emotions may boil-up when one feels left out at a professional but public event in ones own field. I whole heartedly agree with the notion that it must be possible at such an event to make due room for the professionals it is aimed at.
    However, I felt my sympathy to be dwindling when she insisted on stressing her importance as a professional and blogger, and calling unfair advantage taken by inexperienced bloggers and/or non-professionals (I would find it to be a sorry development if we now have bloggers start to think of themselves as the accomplished versus the meddling – wasn’t the idea of blogging once to share thoughts, opinions and ideas in a perfectly democratic environment?).

    Really, I went away from reading Kelly’s post wondering if it wasn’t, maybe not only, but most certainly for a big part, hurt pride talking there.
    I’m willing to think that when it comes to blogging the old advice to sleep over it counts twice (some day I will learn to heed that myself), and that she probably didn’t mean her response to come off quite as mean spirited as it did sound to me – lack of tone of voice and all that in internet conversation.

    And I have to agree with you, long as those books get into the hands of readers, in can’t see much wrong with that. Because if one thing is true for sure, then it has to be that readers just love to talk about the books they read and will spread word of them.

  • Aja
    July 8, 2012 at 7:10 am

    YESSS I am reading Fly by Night right now! 😀 Excitement. 😀

  • Aja
    July 8, 2012 at 7:12 am

    oh! also, I’m so happy you’re reading Graham Joyce. I’ve been a huge fan of his since reading The Tooth Fairy years ago–one of the most unique fairy tales/coming-of-age tales I’ve ever read.

  • Anna
    July 8, 2012 at 7:18 am

    Three cheers for your comments above, ladies!

  • April Books & Wine
    July 8, 2012 at 7:22 am

    I think I say this on like every post BUT OMG FRANCES HARDINGE I die of anticipation over your review and also really really hope the week after will have a review of Fly Trap. 😀

  • KT Grant
    July 8, 2012 at 7:39 am

    If a conference like ALA and BEA is open to the public and someone pays the admission fee, regardless of their role as a librarian, blogger or somebody off the street, they are entitled to take what is offered. I don’t agree that someone should take more than one copy and pushing and shoving people out of the way to get a precious ARC, but who is going to be the police and limit people? The publishers or publicists at the booths who patrol who gets what? Should those at the booths asks each individual person if they’re a blogger or librarian or industry professional and decide who is more important and justified in getting the ARCS?

    Perhaps ALA shouldn’t be open to the public if there is so much concern about non-librarians taking ARCS.

  • Please Reconsider Your Stance
    July 8, 2012 at 7:58 am

    I’m happy that this has at least been written on a blog instead of hashed out (no pun intended) on Twitter. Between the librarian discussion and yesterday’s, this is become ugly and should be dealt with in this more way line of discourse that allows thoughtful discourse in more than 140 characters.

    First, your position is understandable. However, I think you have misunderstood a number of points that need to be brought to your attention in order for you to completely make your argument. Let’s begin.

    1. Did you actually read Kelly’s article? The caustic tone never originated there, despite what some have claimed. I encourage you to reread the entire post, but in the infamous case of TLDR, here’s some samples that you may have missed:

    A. “I do not for a second believe that ALA should be entirely closed off from those who aren’t librarians. I think it’s an incredible convention for those who love books and reading and knowledge and literacy and technology and the many other facets of librarianship interest that exist.”
    B. “I do not for a second believe that all non-librarian/non-teacher/non-ALA members who blog are bad people. What I am saying, though, is those few rotten apples are spoiling this for EVERYONE, and they’re spoiling it for people who are working hard, who should be able to treat themselves to something they are interested in, be it an ARC or be it having a second to talk with a publishing rep.”
    C. “This isn’t about what you do with your ARCs when you’re done. This isn’t about the “noble causes” bloggers are picking up books for. This is about what the goals of the ALA convention are. What the goals of the publishers are in attending these conventions and distributing these books.”

    If you read the comments on that original post, you will see people readily admit that they were mad when they first read it and then understood the second time. This should be educational.

    2. As Liz mentioned, Lost Lola’s response was after Kelly’s original response. Here’s the exact timeframe:

    A. Kelly’s “The ARC Stops Here”: Wednesday, June 27th.
    B. Andy Woodworth’s “Raiders of the Lost ARC”: Thursday, June 28th (please note that he posted the link to Lost Lola. Check the comments to see he was asked to post and asked to take it down). Link:
    C. Lost Lola’s “ALA 2012 Clarification”: Saturday, June 30th
    D. Kelly Responds to Lost Lola on her Saturday, June 30th post entitled, “One Last Time – At Least for now.” Link: Direct quotes related to what had happened to Lost Lola:
    “I have avoided reading posts and comments, but I want to do something in this space. I want to say my post was never meant to be an attack on the girls who made the video, and I’m repulsed by anyone who did that. It was meant as an example of the behavior that’s been going on for a long time. I am impressed by their response.”

    3. You note that this is a problem with ALA, but that’s precisely where Kelly has gone to address the issue. Reread the PW article and you’ll see that it is now being discussed. Dearauthor endorsed higher fees for the exhibit halls yesterday, and that is precisely what Kelly proposed in her original post. That way, ALA can provide a service to its membership, as I’m sure you’ll agree it should while also granting access to other interested parties.

    4. Let me come full circle with this. I think you are all really on the same page, but for some reason, the blogging community has not picked up on this. Thus, you can understand why yesterday was so intense. To post about Kelly’s employment status yesterday (which I don’t believe you did but I’m speaking generally about decorum) was most certainly an attack on her. Why? Because why mention it except to strike back at her? Even if she was a complete outsider to this discussion, that would not invalid the fact that so long as any librarian exists who uses ARCs in some sort of professional context, that same argument are valid. Understandably, passion gets the better of us, but the attacks on Kelly need to stop for productive dialogue.

    5. You’re well respected, and I applaud you for what you’ve done before. I just want you to have an objective conversation without letting passion get in the way so that an amicable solution can be found. I hope you found this respectful, because that was my intent. I only ask you consider what has been said here and reread her posts in an objective sense. She’s not threatening to remove access – she’s simply saying in this one particular context (specifically ALA), librarians should receive some preference, which is perfectly reasonable.

  • Thea
    July 8, 2012 at 8:18 am

    Thanks for the comments, everyone. We will get to all points but first:

    Liz – “Personally speaking, the term “professional” within the context of this debate has mean “affiliated with ALA,” either thru membership or working at a library. Nothing more, nothing less.”

    We completely understand where you are coming from and with your personal interpretation, but we respectfully disagree with the nomenclature as it has been used in this incident. Kelly’s initial post singled out a blogger and her sister, who are repeatedly referred to as non-professionals. The entire impetus for that original post – in fact, the first line of that post!!!! – is her search for bloggers behaving badly. We think this comparison colored this entire incident and even though we respect that on a planning level the ALA will be looking at professional vs. non-professional access, throughout this entire back and forth, bloggers have been equated as the greedy non-professionals in question.

    That said, we do agree with and completely respect the efforts that you and others are making to turn this into a vehicle for better show planning and education at future ALA conferences. That is awesome.

    RE: Kelly’s subsequent posts, you’re absolutely right. What rankled us, however, was PW’s completely imbalanced, one-sided article – and the impetus for THIS post was the discussion kicked up again by a poor PW article, not Kelly. I wonder, was Lola contacted for comment? My guess is no.

  • Thea
    July 8, 2012 at 8:27 am

    Please Reconsider/Anon – Thank you for your lengthy and well-researched comment! I think, however, that you have done what you say Ana and I are guilty of: you misread our post.

    The point of this post and the impetus for this post was NOT to harp on Kelly. We felt we had to write something because of the grossly one-sided PW article. As we say above:

    “We think that the PW article was incredibly one-sided, disregarding bloggers’ perspectives entirely. It was mostly based on Kelly Jensen’s post at Stacked – the post that kicked-off this conversation – and it mentions the now infamous 22-minute video uploaded by a blogger (The Lost Lola) talking about the ARCs she and her sister collected at ALA. But it completely fails to mention The Lost Lola’s well-reasoned response.

    The subject is the PW article.

    With that in mind, I think your argument changes somewhat, so I’ll leave it at that instead of going point-by-point! (Though I do appreciate your chronicling all of this – it’s a good resource for folks that aren’t clear on the timeline, and clearly it took you a while to put together! So thank you for that!)

    As much as some people might jump to the conclusion that this post is an attack on Kelly, it isn’t. We aren’t attacking anyone or anything here, except PW’s ability to write a balanced article. And if a professional trade publication is going to misrepresent/willfully ignore bloggers, then WE feel like we need to say something.

    I hope that helps clarify things.

  • Christina (A Reader of Fictions)
    July 8, 2012 at 8:42 am

    Thank you so much for writing this. That is exactly how I feel about the whole ARCgate drama. Yes, some people abuse the system, but they can be found from all sorts of backgrounds. Certainly, I went a little crazy at my first ALA, and I was there as a library student. I paid the full fee, though, so I guess it’s not greed then?

    I went to BEA this year, and I got a bunch of books, no doubt about that. But I was very careful to only pick up books I am legitimately interested in. I hope to read and review all of them, hopefully slightly pre-publication. Any that I do not LOVE, I will be giving away. Every month, I give away one of my favorite books from the previous month, and I always give precedence to books I received a free review copy of, because I want to give back to the publisher.

    You guys rock! Thanks for sticking up for the bloggers that are actually picking up ARCS to promote books!

  • Please Reconsider Your Stance
    July 8, 2012 at 9:20 am

    Thea, thanks for the clarification. Two points I want to quickly (as much as I can) make:

    1. I better understand your focus now. Here’s why I think I was confused: “But it completely fails to mention The Lost Lola’s well-reasoned response.” Could you modify it to something like the PW article? It’s my fault as a reader for missing that, but I also think it would avoid similar issues. Again, my apologies.
    2. I totally understand why bloggers feel they are being shunned in this conversation. It does seem unfair that Lost Lola was not included, but there’s a few points that may be brought up here:

    A. This conversation is actually about ALA, its membership, the publishers and if the membership should be given preference by ALA in terms of access to the publishers. Though bloggers (and other non-members such as teachers) are an interested additional party, their thoughts are not terribly relevant since their is no formal relationship between non-members and ALA. As Liz mentioned, when the term “non-professional” is used, it’s in reference to non-membership in ALA and not a dig at bloggers.
    B. Jaime took a lot of undue grief from individuals who read Andy’s original post and tracked her down. Yes, it’s unfair. To bring her up again and again, no matter how she defended herself, might simply cause more backlash. When you think about the previous point in combination with this, what you’d really be doing is bringing Jaime back in for no real reason to simply be attacked again. It doesn’t seem fair to her.

    I don’t think anyone wants the non-members excluded (librarians included), but you have to understand that ALA’s mission is to support the membership and that’s why this question has arisen. Bad behavior by anyone is really besides the point, and that’s why I think Jaime was excluded and now, bloggers feel ignored. I hope this helps illustrate the other side of this issue to you and what this is really all about in my opinion.

  • Liz B
    July 8, 2012 at 9:25 am

    “But it completely fails to mention The Lost Lola’s well-reasoned response.” I just want to say that (as it looks like Please Reconsider is saying) that I interpreted “it” to refer to Kelly’s post, not the PW post, and saying that Kelly failed to mention the Lost Lola’s response in her initial post.

  • Liz B
    July 8, 2012 at 9:41 am

    Just saw the change; thank you very much!

  • janicu
    July 8, 2012 at 9:43 am

    I have some of the same reactions to the whole thing.

    One point that resonates is what you say about being on the same team. I don’t want to have a beef with librarians. I’ve always respected their profession.

    But when something like this happens, I think that you get some people who bring their own personal issues to the table and that colors the discussion. Let’s not judge a whole group because of the actions of a few.

  • Thea
    July 8, 2012 at 9:46 am

    Anon and Liz – I’ve modified the line to say “But the PW article completely fails…”

    Apologies if that or the goal of this post was confusing – we thought we were being clear about the PW article being the driving force behind this response, but understandably tensions and sensitivities are high! We like to think that people understand that we wouldn’t make weird assertions that are patently untrue.

    Anon, regarding the focus of the article and the distinction between professional and non-professional in this context:

    We totally get it. We understand that this has to do with the ALA and the distinctions in the show runner hands. I completely believe and respect that this is where you and Liz and likely many, many other librarians are drawing the distinction. And we personally admire everything that Liz and librarians like Liz are doing to help rectify a situation that clearly needs to be addressed!

    But we respectfully disagree with the notion that this has nothing to do with bloggers, and that the PW article or other related comments do not take digs at bloggers. There is ample evidence in comments, posts, and across twitter stating otherwise – and in the PW article itself, the professional/non-professional argument is framed as librarians v. bloggers. The focus of that article dichotomizes librarians and bloggers, and for that reason we felt like we needed to say something.

    We also disagree with the notion that bloggers feel ignored – at least, that’s not how Ana and I feel, or how many other bloggers (some of whom have commented here!) feel. We feel not like we are being ignored, but that we are being shamed, we are being labeled as rude and greedy, and being viewed as somehow less deserving of ARCs for whatever cockamamie reason. (That’s right. I just used the word cockamamie, which I have ALWAYS wanted to use in a discussion! I digress.)

    It’s also our policy here to speak up and open a discussion when we see things that need to be discussed, and it is our view that by opening a discourse on important topics – such as this one – we are helping a situation. So, with that in mind, you can understand why we don’t think it’s the right choice for us to slide this under the rug with the rationale that it will protect someone from an attack. Open discourse, even about potentially inflammatory or uncomfortable topics, is a good and necessary thing, in our opinion. But that’s why we’re posting about it on our blog, and not flaming a situation somewhere else. We respect and understand your position, but that’s just not how we feel.

  • Nicola O.
    July 8, 2012 at 10:49 am

    Funny thing – if it weren’t for Twitter I would probably not have heard much about this whole thing at all. I wonder how much of it is a tempest in a teapot, frankly.

    I had a few thoughts on the subject, but Jane pretty much expressed them all quite nicely:

    The accusation that those bloggers prevented more deserving people from obtaining arcs was very offensive, as if there is some hierarchy and we bloggers must make sure that we understand that our place is with our head down and standing two steps behind.

    Yes, ALA is a professional meeting, but ALA set the guidelines as to who can become a member; who can pay a fee; who can have access. Those bloggers and every other blogger that attended were well within their rights to obtain ARCs.

  • Jane
    July 8, 2012 at 11:24 am

    I definitely don’t feel ignored or shunned by publishers. I don’t, unlike some librarians and even some bloggers, have very big access issues but I think that is in large part due to the fact that we review a ton of books at Dear Author, regularly and for several years now. In other words, access has come with time and persistence and consistent work product.

    . Did you actually read Kelly’s article? The caustic tone never originated there, despite what some have claimed.

    Yes, I did read Kelly’s article. It started with Kelly actively searching the internet for examples of bad blogger behavior even though she none at the conference itself

    I mentioned in my last post I didn’t see a lot of bad blogger behavior regarding ARCs at ALA. But as soon as I posted my piece, I did a search for “ALA book haul” and stumbled upon a video made by a pair of bloggers showing off what they picked up at the conference.

    The next paragraph states that the bloggers behavior was appalling and that they weren’t publicizing books but bragging:

    I watched the entire video, both fascinated and appalled. Fascinated because that was a hell of a lot of books for two people — one copy for each of them — and appalled because of the same reason. This wasn’t promoting the books picked up. It was bragging.

    The publicist who brushed Kelly off wasn’t to blame. It was the hordes:

    She was clearly overwhelmed and struggling to avoid being trampled by the hordes. I looked like anyone else at the convention, so she couldn’t know that I was a librarian

    and when she went back and was turned away by another publisher it was because of bloggers, again:

    But as I watched the 22-minute long video earlier, I saw both books I was interested in showed off by both of the girls. They’d won them! They’d fought hard, they’d stalked the booths, they talked to the right people or pushed the right people out of the way. Whatever the deal, those two non-librarians were able to get the two books I’d wanted from the publisher but was unable to get.

    Kelly goes on about how the librarian profession is selfless and therefore access to books is hard to come by because while the hordes of bloggers are stalking the aisles, the librarians are working.

    She further goes on to state that she deserves arcs because she is getting books into teens’ hands. She knows what she is doing. She has the credentials that support her getting these free books:

    ut really? I don’t think there’s anything selfish in saying point blank that there are ARCs I want for myself to read for myself and to blog about for myself. As much as it makes me feel weird and egotistical to say this, I will: my stats and my reviews are solid. I know what the hell it is I am doing and what I’m talking about.

    Why state this if not to point out that she is the knowledgeable one, she is the selfless one, and she deserves access that the bloggers took away?

    This is why bloggers took offense. This is why some bloggers felt that there was blogger shaming going on.

    Now let me turn to the issue of Kelly’s employment status which she articulated more fully a few days ago in a blog post and then tweeted about it. Why Kelly went on to say that it was totally inappropriate to talk about a private matter, Kelly made it public. No one else did. The reason that this matter is thus.

    I brought up Kelly’s employment status because it seemed important to the debate. Several times in Kelly’s post she referenced the blogger and her sister as non librarians. The discourse that followed was that a non librarian took away access from librarians. The distinction was drawn several times.

    To be fair then where are you drawing the line?

    If you have an MLS, do you go stand first in line? If you are an employed librarian but no MLS, are you second? If you have an MLS but are not currently employed as a librarian, do you get access after the MLS but before the employed librarian? Does the blogger always stand behind? Where in the line?

    Is a person who has an MLS always more worthy of free books than a blogger at a professional conference despite the fact that both parties were abiding by the rules set forth by the conference organizer?

    If one is to make classifications of worthiness based on status, then isn’t whether someone is actively employed as a librarian versus being a reader/blogger make a difference? Isn’t that an element that should be considered of access / classifications are to be made?

    Additionally these claims of bullying or that anyone’s intention was to make someone cry or ruin their weekend is going out of one’s way to assign mal/evil intent where there is none.

  • Kindree Knoepfle
    July 8, 2012 at 12:00 pm

    I commented on the PW article because I am annoyed that so many of my fellow librarians seem to be acting as though bloggers are somehow undeserving of ARCs, and I get so many great recommendations from book bloggers! I mentioned in my comment that I’ve found quite a few great book bloggers, and I was specifically thinking of the Book Smugglers. I love your blog! You do amazing work. I haven’t been able to attend ALA in several years, but I would be thrilled to be able to meet you at a conference and thank you in person for all the work you do. Bloggers are simply online reviewers. We librarians use reviews CONSTANTLY when making purchasing decisions. Many librarians may stick to Booklist’s reviews, but quite a few of our patrons are now able to get their next book suggestion from their favorite blogger or readers’ website. How sad for us librarians that people are sharing their love of books online! We might, perhaps, have our circulation go up. Oh the horror.

    This whole argument really seems to be creating dissent, rather than fostering a useful discussion about improving the conference experience for everyone. We should be sharing our ideas to improve the exhibits; between publishers, bloggers/reviewers, and librarians, we should be able to come up with some great ideas that could make the exhibits more enjoyable and more useful for everyone.

    We librarians should be about sharing the joy of books and stories, not about being gatekeepers or hoarding the “goodies” for ourselves. I’ve only been to ALA once, but I was just as guilty of taking home ARCs I wasn’t going to use for work as any blogger has ever been of taking an ARC or two that they won’t get to review before the publication date. Somehow, the publishers haven’t complained that their ARCs are being wasted, either by greedy librarians or greedy bloggers.

  • Weekly Update: July 1 - July 7, 2012 | Starmetal Oak Reviews
    July 8, 2012 at 5:02 pm

    […] PW posted an article on #ARCgate, detailing the animosity between librarians and bloggers about ARCs given at trade shows. The Books Smugglers posted a good response to it. […]

  • Andria Buchanan
    July 9, 2012 at 4:49 am

    I don’t even know what to say about the ARC thing. As long as books are being read, reviewed and promoted who cares if it’s the librarians or the bloggers doing it. Personally I can say I get 100 blogger recommendations on new things to check out to every 1 I get from a librarian. That may be because when I ask my librarian “anything new to recommend?” the answer I get is “have you tried Harry Potter or Twilight?” but still.

  • Lauralee Owen
    July 9, 2012 at 9:26 am

    I am both a blogger and a librarian. I understand the bloggers’ argument and their role in the reading community, but this was a librarians convention, not an author signing/publisher event. The convention vendors are there to promote sells to the libraries. The librarians are paying hundreds of dollars to be there, not $25. So at an ALA or TxLA event, the librarians should come first.

    At TxLA, we have a Teen day, for librarians to bring their students. Why? Because we want to promote reading, too. We had to start limiting the number of ARCs they took because they were younger and faster (pushing those old librarians out of the way) while not sitting in workshops all day. While teen word of mouth is great, there needs to be a book on the shelf ready to be checked out. The same with bloggers. After reading a great review, the reader needs to be able to find the book on the shelf to check it out.

    Librarians also spend hours upon hours reading. We blog and give book talks, we have followers. My library tweets, blogs, and has a facebook page. Readers come to us because we are on the pulse of what is out is there. It is our job to be. Vendor halls provide that pulse to us, because unlike bloggers, we do not receive boxes of free books from publishers. A blogger receiving “10,000 hits” will also be receiving boxes of free materials. I know because I receive them. My blogger friends do, too. As a librarian, the only place I have been offered a free book is a vendor hall.

    If the publishers want to get stuff out to bloggers, then why not have a bloggers convention? I will be attending such a convention put on by a publishing house in August. It is a one day event and hosts over 20 authors, with ARCs. The vendor hall is free. Blogger heaven. Without cutting into fund-deprived library resources.

    If librarians must watch for what is needed at their branch, so do bloggers. Most bloggers have a chosen genre or type of literature that they focus on. In fact, after TxLA this year, I passed up on free books because they fit neither my library nor my blogs (yes, I contribute to multiple). The role of the vendors is to get their product out, true. The rules of supply and demand mean the vendor should come prepared to peddle their wares to the librarians, since it is a librarian’s convention.
    I am not advocating a member’s only vendor hall. A friend who homeschools her children took her teenager, a ferocious reader, to the last TxLA on Teen day. Authors are her rock stars; and, this was a great time for mother and daughter. I do think the events need to be readdressed, like TxLA had to do with teens. Blogging is a fairly recent phenomena: I’ve only been at it for 5 years. Growth in blogging at a time of budget cutting in libraries will require an evolution of thought in many arenas. Toes will be stepped on, just hopefully not on a mad dash to a free ARC. Perhaps it shouldn’t be a librarian versus blogger argument: it should be the opening for a discussion.

  • Sorwen
    July 10, 2012 at 2:50 pm

    I have to say I came away with a very different view of the PW article than SS did. It mentioned a problem some people are seeing. Maybe I’m wrong, but SS seemed to take it more personally than the article seems intended for.

    I also don’t see the Publishers failure to comment supportive. I think it was nothing more than the sense to stay out of the argument. Whatever they decide to do nothing positive could be gained from making a vocal stance either way on it. Even a moderate response could be used in a way that might not be intended just as no comment might be found supportive. Their best interest is to officially have no interest at all.

    I have to agree that bloggers can be important word of mouth outlet for Publishers. I also know there are a lot of other ways to get access to ARC’s as well. It seems to me a convention like the American Library Association(I feel that people want to gloss over the importance of it by using the acronym) shouldn’t be one of those places for bloggers. Nothing against bloggers, but a convention designed specially for a group of professionals in the end is for those very professionals. It isn’t very professional to over look that fact.

    If what tLL said was true then the video wasn’t taken as intended, but the whole issue does bring up something that perhaps need to be resolved. The PW article to me does nothing but help point that out. I didn’t come away from the PW article thinking less of some bloggers. I have come away from some of the repsonces to it thinking less though.

  • mclicious
    July 11, 2012 at 6:49 am

    This is a great response to ARCgate. I have mixed feelings about it, but I agree that namecalling, banning bloggers, and insulting are not the ways to fix the issue. That said, I support the many people who propose that one-day passes only be offered for the final day of conference, just because, like Kelly mentioned, librarian attendees of the conference don’t have the time to get through the exhibits on the first day, and they should have priority access to them. Then again, your point about how blogs are what get people excited about books and technology is a good one, and if places like NetGalley really appreciate that, so should exhibitors. But I noticed that I was treated dismissively by some of the publisher reps when I asked about ARCs, and I’m willing to bet it has something to do with the fact that I look young and that I am a woman of color, even if I am a library student, I work as a library intern, and I should therefore be included in the “professional” group, although I am also a blogger. That makes me think that exhibitors do in fact try to reserve some things for librarians, knowing that they are very busy at conference, but then I don’t appreciate being dismissed as unimportant just because I’m not old.

  • Bloggers, BEA, and Bullying « Absurdly Nerdly
    July 11, 2012 at 7:01 am

    […] than it was about tips for bloggers and being better writers and bloggers. They also wrote an excllent piece on ARCs, Librarians, and Bloggers which links to all the other relevent postings including a well written response from The Lost Lola […]

  • Grace
    July 11, 2012 at 10:45 am

    I’m a blogger who is currently working on my MLS, so I can see both sides here. I think that there’s a disconnect in understanding between bloggers and librarians, and librarians don’t necessarily realize that bloggers are still professionals even though we don’t get paid for what we do.

    One of the reasons why I posted a photo of the books that I acquired at BEA is because I wanted people to be able to see those titles. One of the biggest parts of blogging is community, and if people are excited about certain titles or authors then I like to bump those to the top of my TBR list and get some discussions started. That’s the entire point of posting a book haul, and I don’t see it as any different than posting my used bookstore finds.

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