ARCs of Guilt

October 12, 2016 Discussion 40

The access to review copies is one of the greatest privileges of a book reviewer’s life… but it’s also one of the biggest pains. 

Don’t get me wrong, I am very grateful to receive review copies from publishers. But unfortunately it has created a monumental problem. The biggest problem a reader ever has to face. 

The Never Ending, Forever Mutiplying TBR

and his side kick,

Crippling Guilt


Having a massive TBR brings a lot of guilt which is crippling enough, but there is just something about review copies that make it worse. 

There seems to be an obligation when it comes to review copies that adds an incredible amount of pressure. Publishers are kind enough to approve us for ARCs on Netgalley and Edelweiss, sometimes even send us physical copies in the mail (yeah it’s in exchange for a review, but they really don’t have to do this when there are professional reviews out there being paid for this type of stuff).

Ideally we read and review them by the review date… which never happens with me. And I think that is the biggest part of my guilt. I get a fair number of books but because I’m so busy, the books pile up and are neglected for months on end. My current review TBR stands at 25 books, some of which have been there for over 3 years.


I’m not even actively requesting books anymore and the pile still manages to start piling up.

Is this guilt ridiculous? A little bit yeah. But also I think it’s kind of a good thing. We feel guilty because we care. We appreciate the publishers give us the opportunity to read and review books for free and feel bad that we can’t always read them as quickly as we would like.

In an attempt to minimise the guilt, I think it’s important to take a step back and realise:

  • We’re human and will fall behind on books
  • The publishers will still appreciate a review no matter how late (especially if it’s a good review)
  • It’s okay to not like a book. Different people have different tastes
  • It’s okay to say no and not read a book

Do you feel the review copy guilt?

40 Responses to “ARCs of Guilt”

  1. Megan

    Yes!! Yes, I do feel the guilt. I’ve gotta learn to restrain myself when I go to request another ARC knowing I’ve got tons already… but I just can’t help myself no matter how hard I try. It’s an addiction!! Great post!

    • Bec

      I’m normally good at restraining myself but this past few weeks I’ve thrown all cares to the wind haha. They are just too tempting!


    • Bec

      I cannot remember the last time I finished and reviewed a book before it’s publication. It can be so hard to find the time to read them

  2. Tasya

    I definitely feel guilty, like whenever I open my e-book reader, there they are, all the unread review copies. The problem is, I’m such a mood reader that I know if I read those books while not feeling it, I would give it a low rating :( But still, the guilt is definitely there! I also have been cutting down my ARC request and take time to actually read the ARC I’ve gotten.
    Tasya recently posted…The Raven Cyce Book Tag

    • Bec

      Mood reading makes it so much more difficult! It is the main reason I’ve fallen so behind with my review books. I’d much rather put the books off until I’m in the mood for them and give them a decent change.

  3. Olga Núñez Miret

    Thanks for this post. Yes, I know perfectly what you mean too. And I get approached by many authors directly too. I always explain it might be a long wait and in some cases if I don’t think I can do it justice I say no, but it’s difficult. But with the best intentions in the world there’s only so many hours in a day and so many other things we have to do. We’ll keep going. :)

    • Bec

      I have to turn down so many authors that approach me because my TBR is already way too long. I feel so bad about it :( I really wish we all had more time to read!

  4. Olivia

    I’ve only just started blogging a few months ago and I’ve been very careful in only ever requesting one or two books and hopefully I can keep it that way. I’m frankly terrified of letting people down, even unknown ones, so I don’t really dare to request more, maybe that will save me? But the temptation… oh the temptation to read them all! My non guilty tbr pile however? It’s growing!
    Olivia recently posted…The Machine Society by Mike Brooks

    • Bec

      I really wish I had been more selective when requesting books in the beginning! I was too excited at the start and it’s how I ended up with such a massive TBR. Good luck resisting the temptation!

    • Bec

      I’m lucky that I’m not on too many publisher lists so don’t get sent too many review copies unsolicited… usually. They do like to breed like rabbits though.

  5. Danielle Nolan

    I am sure my piles are probably not as big as others, but they are still there and yes I feel shameful :( Every single time I feel like I am catching up, something happens and I am back where I started!

    • Bec

      Even if I had one book on that pile I’m sure I’d feel guilty for neglecting it! Haha I swear every time I read one review book, two more find their way onto the TBR XD

    • Bec

      Even when not requesting I find myself mysteriously acquiring more haha. Although in the last few weeks I’ve broken my requesting bands a few times… sometimes the temptation is just too strong!

  6. Kate @ Opinionated Book Lover

    Yes! I have some books that I agreed to review that I am behind on. I don’t feel as bad about the books I got from BEA because I never made a personal promise to read them. But the review copies I said yes to via email are causing some guilt. And you’re right. It’s because I care. I want to read them and spreed the word, but I just don’t have enough time! :)
    Kate @ Opinionated Book Lover recently posted…Discussion: Envisioning location as I read

    • Bec

      I do always try and prioritise books I physically requested because those definitely have a bigger weight when it comes to the guilt. The lack of time is the hardest part!

  7. ShootingStarsMag

    OH gosh, definitely! I try not to request too many review books anymore because I know I don’t have the time. However, I still get random books and life just gets in the way sometimes…it can be tough to get books read and a review up in time for the release date.

    It’s tough, but we all have other things in our lives. As long as we aren’t requesting a ton of books and not caring at all if we review things, then I think it’s understandable.

    ShootingStarsMag recently posted…Harry Potter Coasters Giveaway (U.S.) 10/31

    • Bec

      Life gets in the way so much! So do pretty covers and lack of self restraint haha

      If we didn’t care and were just abusing the privilege there would be a massive problem.

  8. A Canadian Girl

    Oh I totally agree! I’ve really cut down on how much I request and yet the books still seem to pile up. Then, I struggle to have things read and reviewed by the release date which rarely happens so I feel guilty every time I see those books. And it’s even worse with egalleys because there isn’t a constant physical reminder staring me in the face.
    A Canadian Girl recently posted…Guest Post: J.M. Kelly

    • Bec

      They breed like rabbits, I say! Oh man, I’m really bad at neglecting the eARCs because there isn’t that physical pile crushing me. I really need to be more proactive in getting through that.

  9. Laurie (Bark's Book Nonsense)

    It is so hard to say no to ARC’s. I know this feeling and it is a struggle! My TBR pile is insane but I’m doing my best to keep my ARC’s to a reasonable number. The only way I can do that is by staying far, far away from Netgalley because they get me everytime. I think I’m down to three right now and I’m good with that number. I haven’t touched my tbr pile in a few months and that makes me super guilty.

    • Bec

      Especially when they’re books that sound so good! I need to block myself on Netgalley. I’ve been on there too often in the last couple of weeks.

      Three is an amazing number!!

    • Bec

      Oh yeah, it definitely comes with the territory.

      haha I hope one day I can be as complacent about it as you, Jeann! It doetn’s worry me as much as it once did but I still feel guilt, especially if I requested the book.

  10. Micheline @ Lunar Rainbows Reviews

    I used to feel guilt when my ARCs were digital and now that I get more physical copies and don’t request digital ARCs anymore, I find that the guilt is worse :O Those spines keep staring at me from my table and between work, life and being a mood reader….they continue to stare! And well, if I force myself to read them when I’m NOT in the mood, my reviews will reflect that. The struggle is real. Needless to say, your reminders here were helpful to me :) Thank you and lovely post ♥
    Micheline @ Lunar Rainbows Reviews recently posted…Review: Empire of Storms

    • Bec

      Physical ARCs are much more intimidating! They’re waiting there to crush you.

      Mood reading is really not good for those that experience this guilt.

    • Bec

      I’ve got some Netgalley books that I requested 4 years ago and still haven’t read because I’m terrible haha.

      There are so many books, but so little time

  11. Christina

    I ALWAYS feel ARC guilt. :( I’m always so sporadic and unreliable in my reading whims, I can’t really guarentee when I’m going to want to read something, let alone have the energy to write a review. I’ve had an author reach out to me with her ARC, and she’s been sending notes asking when I’m posting the review — it makes me feel so rattled and guilty, because I’m busy and haven’t gotten to it yet!
    Christina recently posted…Using Weather to Set the Tone in your Writing (WIP Wednesday)

    • Bec

      I feel this! But I think a lot of authors and publishers do understand life gets in the way. Plus I personally think it’s better to wait and read it in the right mood rather than force yourself to read it and be more harsh than you’d usually be.

  12. Di @ Book Reviews by Di

    Oh my gosh – the pressure! It can be like a living breathing thing! I always feel obligated to post a review when I receive an ARC that I have requested – even if it’s a DNF review. I have only ever DNFed one book ever though and it was a ‘Read Now’ on NetGalley that I just had to open because I fell for a beautiful cover.

    I always try my best to get the review back before the deadline but as you say – publishers are happy to get a review even if it is late but that being said I think if it’s an unsolicited ARC you shouldn’t feel any pressure or guilt. If you read it – great, if not, you aren’t under any real obligation.
    Di @ Book Reviews by Di recently posted…Weekly Round Up #5

    • Bec

      Only one! Well… I can’t comment haha. Compared to most my number (3 or 4) is just as low haha. Those pretty covers can be so misleading, but how are we supposed to resist ?!

      Unsolicited ARCs are definitely not as high priority compared to requested ARCs.

  13. Sarah J.

    I feel a small sense of guilt when it comes to my ARCs on Netgalley. I have too many and not enough time, but I also have no self control. I do review the books I get it just takes me a while to review it and that makes me feel bad, but my life is busy and books are not my job so I read when I want to. Ideally I wish I could read all the books whenever I want to, but I’m a college student and that’s just not going to happen.

    • Bec

      Self control can be hard to find when it comes to books! So many pretties out there to obtain.

      Study is more of a priority than reading, especially when exams roll around.

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