Uncorrected Proof Copy &
Advance Reading Copies

By Joe Waynick
November 25, 2012

Have you ever found an Uncorrected Proof Copy or several Advance Reading Copies of books among your newly purchased inventory after a day of book scouting?

Of course you have. And if you haven't, you will. Everybody does.

Amazon doesn't allow the sale of Advance Reading Copies and Uncorrected Proofs. But all is not lost.

You can still list and sell them on Alibris if they have already been published. But Alibris prohibits their sale prior to publication.

Think about it.

The reason why you shouldn't sell an Uncorrected Proof Copy prior to publication is so you don't ruin the launch date.

Publishers pour tens of thousands of dollars into advertising and marketing campaigns to build "industry buzz" prior to publication. Why would you want to ruin that by leaking the storyline to the public?

That's just plain wrong. And the ethics of such behavior stink to high heaven.

Why Print An Advance Reading Copy?

Many publishers print a limited number of promotional copies of their new book titles prior to release to give away for free to industry insiders for publicity purposes.

Copies of these books are called different names, such as Uncorrected Proof Copy, Uncorrected Proof, Advance Reading Copy or Advanced Reading Copy (ARC), and probably a few other names not mentioned here.

These books are given to reviewers, journalists, public relations professionals, bookstore owners, and others who are influential in the market at which the book is targeted.

The idea is to generate interest in the book three to six months prior to the publication date in an effort to maximize early sales by garnering a few new book reviews and hopefully landing on several best seller lists once launched.

Developing a Profitable Business Is Hard

Abooks.com has the same rules as Amazon.com regarding promotional materials. I can't advise you about eBay rules because I only sell book lots on their site that are rare collectibles.

However, it's my opinion that any Uncorrected Proof Copy, Advance Reader's Copy, or Advanced Reader's Copy should be allowed to be sold after publication of the book.

But the big publishing houses have pressured online marketplaces to not allow them to sell anything that publishers can't profit from.

In fact, if publishers had their way, selling used books would be illegal or there would be some kind of royalty or tax placed on each sale because right now publishers only make money on new book sales. If you were starting your own publishing business you might feel the same way.

With new book sales on the decline, it's no wonder that stores that sell new books would love to see used book sellers put out of business.

Is a Decent Reading Copy Worth the Risk?

Most large marketplaces have agreements with the big publishers not to allow the sale of an Uncorrected Proof Copy or ARC. They may even have signed agreements.

Small, independent used book sellers don't have that limitation outside of the marketplaces where his or her books are listed.

Consequently, you must be careful about how you market these types of books so that you don't run afoul of marketplace rules. There's no sense jeopardizing your account status for a $10.00 sale.

Other than on Alibris.com, it's not wise to sell promotional books online unless you're selling them from your own website. After all, you bought and paid for them, you have a perfect right to sell them. You just can't sell them on one of the big marketplace venues.

Also, don't be mean spirited and sell them prior to the publication of the book. Publishers have a right to earn a living just like you. So live and let live without interfering in the publishing business cycle by selling uncorrected proofs too early.

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