mirrorshard: A book growing from a tree branch, captioned "Books where fruit should be". (Books where fruit should be)
For those of you interested in obscure conjunctions of information science, materials science, and history, and who don't read my SF blog, I've finally got around to putting up my notes from the talk I gave at Eastercon 2010. It does not, I'm afraid, contain my celebrated impression of Dr Johnson, but you can read the rest here.
mirrorshard: A book growing from a tree branch, captioned "Books where fruit should be". (Books where fruit should be)
On the face of it, NetGalley looks like a fantastic service: publishers offer electronic ARCs (Advance Reading Copies) to interested parties, ie. reviewers and industry people, via a convenient aggregator website.

However, most of the ones I've had from there (including KJ Parker's The Hammer, Tom Holt's Life Liberty and the Pursuit of Sausages, JC Grimwood's The Fallen Blade and Gail Z Martin's, er, something or other) have been offered only as DRM-laden PDFs, and with an expiry date at that—after (IIRC) six weeks, they become unreadable. Re-downloading them will reset the timer, but the publisher withdraws them from the website after they come out, so the basic effect is of a book chained to a virtual desk that the publisher then confiscates back.

This is ridiculously unprofessional of those publishers, and I find it very insulting. If they want me to consider their book for review, the absolute least I want in return is a copy of the book, physical or electronic, to keep and read as I like. That isn't to say that I won't review books I buy or get from the library, because I do, but that's my choice and in my time. Being able to read them before other people do isn't valuable to me (in fact, less valuable than reading them as part of a community with whom I can discuss them) and I'm not going to jump through any hoops whatsoever in order to do publishers a mutual favour.

Not all publishers who use NetGalley do this, of course. Carina Press (Harlequin's digital-only imprint) gave me several entirely DRM-free ebooks, which didn't suck. Not really my sort of thing, and I don't know enough about the romance genre to be able to review them properly, but they didn't suck.


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