As a marketing tool, publishers provide free copies of new titles to booksellers, journalists and even celebrities.
Such books are variously referred to as readers editions, an advance copy, an advance reading copy or ARC. It’s the book privately released by its publisher before the book is printed for mass distribution.
Readers editions generally lack the final dust jacket, formatting or (possibly) binding of the finished product; the text of an advance edition may also differ slightly from the market book, after comments are received from the reading group, or late errors are found in the manuscript. When a celebrity reader or journalist gives an endorsement, that’s added to the dustcover and other promotional items.
Reader books are normally distributed three and six months before the book is officially released to reviewers, bookstores, magazines, and (in some cases) libraries.
Like coins or stamps with errors, book collectors seek readers editions as being the “real” book, possibly containing text, errors or typos that add value.
On rare occasions (for instance, the publication of an eagerly-awaited or controversial book), a publisher may require the recipients of advance copies to sign a confidentiality of content agreement. However, in most cases the sheer number of ARCs produced and distributed makes that impractical. A typical genre publisher may create 5,000 ARCs for a new book by a moderately popular writer.
Publishers also produce uncorrected bound proofs, also known as galley proofs, in advance of publication. Galley proofs were historically only used in the editing and proof-reading process, but publishers have recently begun to use them as ARCs. These galley proofs may have bindings and illustrations similar to that of the final copy, unlike old-style galley proofs which were usually bound in plain paper covers and without illustrations.
Galley proofs differ from ARCs in that ARCs are printed in full color and in the same format as the published book, while galley proofs are generally printed in black and white and are significantly larger in size than the market book. Publishers who produce their galley proofs in electronic form do not use them as ARCs.
Beyond an Advance Reader copy, the next step is a final copy (in smaller quantity) that is used for marketing and sales staff to go out to the buyers, chains, book clubs, etc and place the advance order so that a larger size print run can be locked in. Houchen Bindery Ltd. can definitely help you with this area of your publishing needs.
Houchen Bindery Ltd. can offer the services of Advance Reader Copy manufacturing for small quantities. Many of the publishers we work with roll out ARC’s in about 30 to 100 copies at a time. At Houchen Bindery Ltd.- we can produce the ARC with it’s final binding. We produce ARC’s in both black and white text and full color, hard bound or soft bound with a laminated cover. If you have the need for Advance Reader Copies, please feel free to call me at 1-800-869-0420 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.