A childlit reference today to a blog post last year on Michael Thorn's Achockablog revealed a semi-juicy scandal heretofore unknown to me involving the excellent Australian writer Alyssa Brugman, who complained to her publisher that Thorn was selling an ARC of her book Being Bindy on eBay. The publisher, Faber, dutifully if thickheadedly wrote Thorn to tell him to cease and desist, or they would stop sending him advance copies for review. Apparently the blogosphere was thick with reproof, because Brugman wrote a rather stern note about the matter on the home page of her website, saying that ARCs are the property of the publisher, not the reviewer, and therefore Thorn had no right to sell them.
Personally, I think Brugman might better torture herself by contemplating the fact that Thorn had no desire to keep his copy of her book, but the fact remains that the book was his to sell; at least it works that way on this side and end of the pond. Publishers don't lend books to reviewers, they simply hand them over. Thorn very carefully made the point that he does not sell ARCs as new books (which would be fraud) or indeed before their publication dates. The publisher is certainly within its rights not to send Thorn (or anyone) review copies if they don't want to, but this would rather defeat the purpose of review copies. (And, contrary to what one irate publisher told me, no one needs permission from the publisher to review a book.) I imagine that Faber knows this, too, and is banging its corporate head repeatedly on the table for being caught between author and reviewer on this one.
For the record: after the Horn Book has finished with its reviews, and the publishing season has passed, we cherry-pick titles to keep in our collection (everything reviewed in the Magazine and a culling from the Guide), give some away, make "creative art" projects out of others, consign some to a Wall of Shame, and sell the rest as a lot to a used-book wholesaler.
But if anyone knows: is this standard operating procedure among our fellow nations?