I remember my first. It was a few years ago, over Christmas. Son was still at secondary school and an active library helper. So was his best friend. The latest Alex Rider was just out and the library had one copy. They couldn’t agree who should go first, so the librarian decided. The friend got the Horowitz.
To ward off the inevitable explosion she handed Son a proof provided by the local bookshop, who needed a book review. It was Hoot by Carl Hiaasen. Needless to say the whole family read it and couldn’t quite get over the excitement of reading a proof. We had never heard of Hiaasen either, so that was an eye opener. Thoroughly enjoyed Hoot, and these days I like to return to Hiaasen and his mad world from time to time.
Some time later when the Resident IT Consultant was in the bookshop (strange place to find him…) he was sent home with a pile of proofs that they didn’t know what to do with.
And now we see so many of them that we have lost that first feeling of excitement. Or not, in a way. Because it’s still very special to have a new book, and particularly so if we expect it to be good. It’s just not the first time.
Rick Riordan as a post about his new no ARC/proof policy at his blog: http://rickriordan.blogspot.com/2008/01/raiders-of-lost-arcs.html
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I can quite see Rick’s points. In fact, I’m shocked that not only can American librarians just pick up copies, but that they distribute them to the children in advance. Then you really do lose any anticipation for “the day”.
Proofs to me are for review purposes, and for what I once saw described as “influencers” to direct readers when the time comes. It’s for a few to be prepared in advance for “the greater good” if you like.
Disappointing that Rick’s blog doesn’t allow comments.
What a lovely way to discover Carl Hiaasen, though. One of my favourite crime writers (in fact my ONLY favourite crime writer, after Henning Mankell, if you can call him a (mere) crime writer).
No blurbs, no preconceptions, nothing to spoil the joy of discovery. Having said that, I hate proofs. Spelling mistakes distract me horribly from the text!
But at least with spelling errors in a proof you can live in hope they’ll be corrected. They drive me demented in a “real” book.