Saturday, August 27, 2016

#booksfortrade entitlement (and why it's a problem)

I have been planning to do a post on this topic for a little while now, but had actually been saving it for next Wednesday. I'm sure I'll wish I had some original content to post when next week gets here, but it seems like now is a very relevant time for this discussion. 

What is #booksfortrade?

Let me start with quick breakdown for those of you who might not be familiar with this hashtag! On Twitter there is a group of avid readers (mostly bloggers) who are almost constantly looking to swap books.

Some bloggers are trading ARCs, some trade finished copies, and some will even give books away for the price of shipping. Often (but not always), a wishlist is posted with the books that are for trade. Sometimes traders are willing to accept books that aren't on their wishlist, but many times only specific books will be accepted, especially in the case of very rare advance copies.

It's a good system! I've met a lot of really great people (and some not-so-great ones) and have made several really amazing trades! We help each other complete collections and a few are lucky enough to find those incredible ARCs that we're all dying to read! Many of us even keep an eye out for things that we know others are on the hunt for.

So why the post? 

Lately I have noticed a trend. People are using the #booksfortrade hashtag more and more to complain about what they are unable to get, rather than using it to search for things they can trade for. There have been a couple blog posts about this recently, which can be found by going to the tag on Twitter.

The main complaint seems to be that some traders are too stingy with the ARCs they're looking to trade. Certain users of the tag find the whole process disheartening and give up when they aren't able to get a coveted upcoming release or rare ARC. According to some, if a trade post is made, the original poster should be more open to books other than what's on their wishlist since they are looking to get rid of the books anyway. That seems reasonable, right?

Why I don't see it that way

Brittany's Book Rambles
I'll make my case with an example. There are a few ARCs that I really, REALLY want. (We call these unicorns.) Specifically, I would do just about anything to own the Grisha Trilogy ARCs.

Over the last few months I have seen people post these for trade. Do I actually expect to be able to get one of these with the books I have to trade? No, absolutely not!

While I do gaze longingly on the books I would love to have, I would never hold it against someone for not trading them to me. If someone posts these books, they are probably looking for something very specific and would only trade for that specific thing. I have absolutely no problem with that.

At the end of the day, someone else's property is not my property and being angry that someone won't give me something they own makes no sense at all. Yes, ARCs are free. But chances are, no one just walked up to that blogger and handed them a pile of books. They probably had to work for them (or spend a lot of money on a convention).

No one is entitled to ARCs

I do not see an issue with not trading for something you don't want. I have seen post after post about people being too picky. People feel that the owner of the book should be lenient about what they will accept. After all, people WANT the books they're trading!

Here's the thing: "I want it" is not a reason for someone to give you something they've (probably) worked hard to come by.

ARCs are hard to get. I never had anything worth trading until I finally got to attend ALA, over two years after Cornerfolds first came online. And here's a secret: I STILL don't normally get ARCs in the mail from publishers! I went to ALA, had the opportunity to get some cool things, read and reviewed the cool things, was lucky enough to make a couple great trades, and now I'm back to gazing from afar until the next time I get the chance to attend one of these events.

Things I will not do until then: harass people to give me ARCs because I want them.

Why this is a problem

Maybe you're thinking that this whole post is just one big rant, and maybe it is partially that, but there's something important I want to get to.

The people that have the super rare ARCs that you (and I) want have been working in the blogisphere for a long time, probably much longer than I have. Maybe you don't think it's fair that they have the books that you want, but what really isn't fair is putting them on blast for not passing them out like candy. The constant rants about how people are too stingy or won't trade even though they know you WANT IT SO BAD are unfair and they're making people uncomfortable.

Everyone has their unicorn. Most bloggers want to read books before they're unleashed on the world because we know about them before most other people do. Unfortunately, it doesn't always work out that way and it's ridiculous to publicly shame people. Luckily for everyone, all of these books will be released soon and we can all read them together then.

#booksfortrade is amazing

The overwhelming majority of traders have great experiences with #booksfortrade! Every single day you can see people thanking each other for incredible, successful trades all over the world. It's unfortunate that some people think so poorly of the group of people that have made the tag so great!

Do you use #booksfortrade? Have you had a good or bad experience?
Let me know in the comments!