Kernels of Nonsense: Are ARCs Worth it?

Kernels of Nonsense (2)Kernels of Nonsense is a discussion feature where I like to tackle various book and blogging related topics. This week I’m discussing ARCs and if they are really worth pursuing as a book blogger and reader. I know this isn’t a new topic around the blogosphere, but this is what my mindset currently is with regard to ARCs.

I have a confession to make. I’ve been avoiding NetGalley. I recently submitted a review that made my feedback ratio 100%. It’s been a while since I’ve had every NetGalley request reviewed and I think for the time being I’m going to bask in this sense of accomplishment.

There is another reason why I’m avoiding NetGalley and that’s the added pressure that comes with these ARCs. As a mood reader, having to read certain books by a certain time can have a huge impact on how I enjoy them. I’m not always in the mood for a certain genre or a certain book and when that happens, I put down the book and pick up another. I can’t do that with ARCs because they come with deadlines attached to them. And while I understand that I’m not going to be disciplined if I read an ARC after its release date, I sort of feel like I’ve entered into an agreement with the publisher that I will read and review these books before their release dates. And so I do.

When I first started blogging, I wanted it to be fun and low-pressure. Things don’t always work out the way you intend. Although I will say that blogging can be really hard work, it can be the kind of hard work that’s worth it. I’m proud of the fact that I work hard on my blog. I’m proud of the fact that writing a review doesn’t always come easy, but I still get through them. I’m proud of the fact that I’ve grown both as a blogger and a reader since joining this community. Still, I’m learning that there has to be a limit to how much time and energy I devote to blogging. If I’m overwhelmingly stressed when it comes to blogging, it’s no longer a hobby but an obligation.

I confess that another reason I’m less excited about ARCs is because I end up not enjoying most of them. The last two ARCs I read received 2-stars ratings from me and really, I’d rather be spending my time reading books I enjoy than ones I don’t. Below is a graph of NetGalley ARCs I’ve read by rating (please note that 5-star percentage was rounded up, so it’s actually below 3%).

netgalley-arcs-by-ratings

I ask myself why I am still requesting these ARCs. Is it the blog stats? We know there’s a desire for early reviews among readers and these ARC reviews are a way to drive traffic to your blog. Is it impatience on my part? Sometimes I want a book so bad, waiting a few extra weeks to buy or check it out from the library seems impossible. Neither of these reasons seem good enough when I’m trading my time for ARCs I’m not loving.

So as of right now, I will not be requesting any new ARCs on NetGalley. I don’t know how long I’ll be on this “ARC strike,” but I’m aiming for the summer. And if summer comes around and I’m still not feeling the need to request, I’m not going to force myself to get back into the swing of things.

How do you feel about ARCs? Has your opinion changed since you started blogging? Have you ever looked at how you rate the ARCs you read? Do you think the added pressure is worth it when it comes to ARCs? Let’s discuss in the comments!

cc-banner-march-1Special Note: Sign-ups for the Winter 2017 Comment Challenge for March are now open. This is the final month for the winter challenge and we’d love for you to join us. We’ll be partnering you with another book blogger and all month long you will be encouraged to comment on each other’s blogs. Click the image to the left for all the info. Special thanks to all those who have participated this season! Note: the final day to sign-up will be the 25th.