Last Tuesday I posted a short skit/screenplay thing I wrote about #booksfortrade that I hoped was a more humorous, different take of opening up the discussion for today’s post!
(If you haven’t read it yet, you can find it here! It’s a good precursor to this discussion, but I do admit it’s probably not necessary to read. Fun though!)
I have a love/hate relationship with #booksfortrade. I think there’s a lot of amazing things that can happen in that section of the book community–helping people get ARCs to review, helping people find something they love, and giving an outlet for people to share books!
The entire concept is honestly quite fabulous, and the idea of a space where people can trade books is wonderful and something I really enjoy seeing. I’ve had countless people end up extraordinarily happy with their trades and the books they get from it.
There’s a lot of people trading finished copies which is great to see, but this post is honestly really centered on #ARCsfortrade (which is basically #booksfortrade, but without the finished copies). I love the outlet that #booksfortrade provides for people to find new reading content–old or new!
But, although the concept is amazing, there’s some issues within that part of the community that definitely don’t fit into the inclusive nature that we strive for within the book community.
It’s with things like holding upcoming ARCs to trade for really obscure/old/rare books that doesn’t sit as well with me.
ARCs are meant for reading! They’re meant so reviewers can read them and write reviews and post them in cool places to help support the author! Or at the very least, promoting the book on social platforms through mentions and photos etc.
And I know people put a lot of time and effort into obtaining these really cool, rare upcoming ARCs at things like conventions
or through sacrificing their soul, but I just wish that more people had the opportunity to read and review, you know?
I get it though. I understand why people keep these–because some of them (the unicorns, the rare ones, the ones that publish a long time from now) hold value and why would you give away something that you can use to get something you want?
It’s like having $10 but trading it for $1. Doesn’t make practical sense.
Something else that doesn’t make practical sense is mailing things internationally. Would you want to ship for $3 or $23? $3, duh.
But if we keep to this mindset, nobody would donate money to charity anonymously (non-anonymously is different because you can gain things from the image of being charitable). It’d be every man for himself–why should I do anything for you?
Why should I waste my energy to open the door for the stranger behind me?
Why should I spend time helping that woman pick up the things she dropped?
Why should I do anything if it doesn’t benefit me?
This mindset of every-man-for-himself makes sense. I mean, it’s what people have been doing for years. It’s like the mindset that perpetuated slavery–why should I give up free labor when I can get labor for free? Why should I free my slaves when I control their livelihoods and can keep using them to do my grunt work?
The way things change is by people starting change and advocating for it.
Slavery changed because people spoke out and their voices began to be heard and people realized what they were doing wasn’t moral and began to spur change.
US kidlit became more diverse because people spoke out and we began to buy and support books with diverse characters from diverse authors, convincing publishers through the numbers that we wanted things to change.
Trade culture on #booksfortrade can become more inclusive when we advocate for more inclusivity–being open to INTL trades, even if it means INTL will chip in on the shipping. Giving priority to people who will review the books, people who are #OwnVoices, people who will read it and promote it to help the author.
I know it’s hard. Giving things away in general is hard. Giving away something you worked for/fought in line for/wrote a really damn great email to a publicist for in exchange for something that might not be your top priority is hard.
But consider how it could change the culture of exclusivity within the book community. Think about how it could influence others to consider sharing too.
And I’m not saying to just trade an ARC of Wildcard for a random obscure novel from 2008. I’m not saying to just drop everything you have and give it all away. I’m saying be a little more open! Negotiate! Think outside your wishlist!
So my friends, go forth and conquer the hashtag! Flood our community with positivity and an open mind, because you never know who might follow your example.
Have you ever traded on #booksfortrade? What’s your thought on the community?
(Also, if it wasn’t clear I’m not saying people who are pickier on #booksfortrade are the modern equivalent of slaveowners. It’s an example to illustrate my point, but not a direct correlation.)