Advance Reading Copies (ARCs) are a great way to get a heads up on forthcoming titles. As Collection Development Manager for my library district, I receive ARCs through vendors, publishers, and review journals. I truly enjoy receiving a box of ARCs, finding out about titles coming out in the future, and applying that fore-knowledge to the development of my library’s collection. I do select some to read myself, but there is no way for me to read all the titles I receive. A few years ago I found a means to share the wealth and at the same time gauge which titles might also be hot prospects among our customers.
At the beginning of each month, I send an ‘ARCs Around the Library’ email to our internal staff listserv listing all of the ARC titles to be published in the following month. Staff members are instructed to reply directly to the posting with their name and work location along with their first, second, and third choice of ARC titles. If the first choice has been selected by someone else, then I check for the second choice. If that title has also already been chosen, then I look for the third choice. If all of their selections have been taken by other staff, then a return email is sent letting them know and asking if they would like to try again.
When one of the titles chosen is available, it is sent out to the individual’s branch for their reading pleasure. The staff member is also asked to follow the rules for ARCs.
1) Do not send the ARC in to be cataloged (An ARC is not the finished version of a book.)
2) Do not send the ARC to the Friends of the Library for their annual book fair (ARC’s should not be sold, again because they are not the finished product.)
3) When finished reading, give the ARC to a co-worker, friend, or family member (Share the wealth!)
4) Do not put the ARC in the trash – recycle it instead.
5) Talk about the book with co-workers and promote it to our customers.
6) Bloggers are encouraged to write about the title (Share the wealth!)
Providing staff access to ARCs helps them to stay up-to-date on new titles and gives them a way to pass knowledge along to other staff and customers. By sharing their reading experience with others, ARCs can also be useful for developing and practicing readers’ advisory skills. An ARC title may introduce staff to new authors, genres, or subjects and broaden their reading experience into areas they might never have considered before. Talking about the title gives staff the opportunity to discuss appeal factors and practice book talking skills. Knowing about forthcoming titles is a great way to be prepared for when customers come in asking for that next good book to read.
The December ARCs Around the Library email generated fast and furious responses from the staff. The first title claimed was The Blood Gospel by James Rollins, followed quickly by Mary Jane Clarks’ Footprints in the Sand, and the nonfiction title, Jungleland: A Mysterious Lost City, a WWII Spy, and a True Story of Deadly Adventure by Christopher S. Stewart. There were multiple requests for the Rollins and Clark titles as well as for The Winter Witch by Paula Brackston and Jennifer McMahon’s The One I Left Behind. Staff reaction can be a good judge as to which forthcoming titles to monitor for increased reserves and to determine if more copies need to be purchased for the library’s collection. I will be keeping an eye on these five books and all of the other December ARC titles.
Lucy is currently reading The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards by Kristopher Jansma.