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Books for Thought is where I post a discussion topic related to books, reading, writing, or something pertaining to one of the three. I hope you’ll join in, and discuss today’s topic of

unsolicited review copies

An unsolicited review copy is a book that you receive from a publisher as a surprise. You haven’t requested to review it, but they send you the book in hopes that a) it will pique your interest, b) you will read it, c) you will like it, and d) that you will review it.

Unsolicited review copies are awesome. They’re a surprise, and there’s a certain smug humble feeling you get when you realise the publisher likes your positive (or negative – they can be good, too) reviews enough to send you a book in the hope that you’ll do a-d as mentioned above.

Now, I have discovered some pretty amazing books through unsolicited review copies being sent to me, for example: The Rest of Us Just Live Here and Something Like Normal. Both of which just arrived on my doorstep. Both of which I adored. There have been others, as well, but those were just the first two that popped into my head.

So receiving unsolicited review copies can be an awfully great thing.

But then sometimes there’s a book that arrives on your doorstep, and you … just aren’t really interested in it at all. You don’t really want to read it, and by proxy you don’t want to review it, either.



And that’s where the guilty feeling comes in.

Because, like I said before, unsolicited review copies make you feel awesome. But when the book’s not something you think you’ll enjoy, it’s probably better not to read it and negatively review it (publicity wise), but there’s still this heavy weight of guilt that accompanies receiving a book and knowing that you’re not going to read it and then review it. At least there is for me.

And so I have a pile of unsolicited review copies that I am not so keen on. But I also have a pile of unsolicited review copies I fully intend to get to. Because they look like good books, and I genuinely want to read them.

So of course, my general feelings towards unsolicited review copies is positive. They are books, and they are sometimes books I fall in love with. But I still haven’t found a way to shake the feeling of guilt every time I receive one that I know is never going to be read or reviewed. I feel sad for the book, and bad for the publisher. *hides*


What about you? How do you feel about unsolicited review copies? Do you read them all? If you skip some do you feel the guilt?


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Posted on: January 15, 2016 • By: Chiara

28 Responses to That Guilty Feeling You Get

  1. Oh man I feel guilty every time one arrives. Really guilty! Most of the review copies I have no are unsolicited and they’ve been sitting on my shelf for a long, long time. I plan on reading them eventually (they could be a surprisingly good book, you never know) but it’s going to take a while and I feel guilty for leaving them for so long. What I really should do is see if any up and coming book bloggers in Australia want to review them, because at least then they’re getting some love.

    • Chiara says:

      I know, right! I don’t really plan on reading the titles I’m not really interested in. Because chances are I’ll just be giving a negative review D: That’s actually a really good idea!

  2. Beth W says:

    I can imagine, although I can’t relate, mostly because….how do you get on that list?? Most of the books I review are from my TBR pile, I’ve never gotten anything from a publisher (aside from contests won on Goodreads and the like). I’d be more likely to review it if it were a surprise, I think. I’m weird like that.

    • Chiara says:

      You email the publisher with your stats and stuff like that, and ask if you can be on their blogger database! I used to review all the surprise books I received, but I just don’t have the time for it anymore. I want to read books I am 100% interested in!

  3. Great discussion post! I always hate that guilty feeling, too. I have found a few gems in surprise review copies (EMBRACE by Jessica Shirvington was unexpected and I was like ‘hmm should I’ – it was one of my first review copies EVER – and I read it and it spawned a love for that series that has never died haha) but for the most part, the unsolicited copies I get are so far off from what I would usually read… and I don’t get around to them.

    I offer them up for trade, or I donate them to the library. At least that way, SOMEONE is getting some good use out of them! I could never, ever throw a book in the bin.

    • Chiara says:

      Thanks! I adore the really great novels I’ve found through unsolicited review copies :D But there are a lot that I am not so keen on >.< I could never throw a book out, either D: I have a bunch of unsolicited review copies that I intend to donate to Lifeline soon! Hopefully someone will read and love them that way.

  4. I used to read them ALL and now I just…don’t have the time. Lol. But I end up donating them (if they’re review copies, not ARCs) so I don’t feel as bad.

    But I agree – unsolicited copies can be AMAZING. And they’re often books I wouldn’t pick for myself, so enjoying them is an even nicer surprise.

    • Chiara says:

      I used to do that, as well! But I don’t really want to now, because there’s not enough time to read all the books I want to D: I’m thinking of donating the ones I am pretty certain I won’t read.

      I know, right! I love some of the unsolicited books I’ve received :D

  5. I love getting unsolicited review copies because of the faith the publishers is putting in me, like you said. But I know about that guilty feeling too. At least a quarter of the ones I relieve, I don’t want to read. I’ve received some books that are so far out of my comfort zone it isn’t funny – like an adult memoir about the Irish during the World Wars and stuff. Like I’m not going to read that… but I have to? Now they’re siting on my shelf and I’m not sure what to do about them!

    • Chiara says:

      I love the feeling of being trusted by the publisher, but then I feel guilty if I don’t want to read the book. I have SO many on my shelf, and I think I just have to cut the guilt and give them away. Maybe someone else will love them!

  6. I haven’t had the experience of receiving unsolicited review copies personally, but I am thinking of sending in a form to Penguin’s ARC bloggers list sometime this year and crossing my fingers. I’m not sure what the practice is normally, but it seems like if you have other, more interesting books to get to, it’s okay to ignore that pile for the time being. And who knows? Perhaps one of them will catch your interest at a later time :D Surprise books sound absolutely amazing, though!

    • Chiara says:

      Surprise books ARE amazing, especially if they are ones you are keen on, or think you will like. But there are just some that I know I won’t get around to, and I feel bad about those ones D: I hope you are/were successful with Penguin!

  7. Valerie says:

    SKIP THEMMMM. SKIP THEM. You didn’t request them, so you shouldn’t feel guilty about anything! The publishers took the chance to see whether you would want to read it, and it worked for some, and not for others. SO BAM. Their problem! Not yours! So yeah, it should be totally fine to just skip them, I’m sure the publishers will understand!

    • Chiara says:

      Haha XD I skip the ones I’m not keen on, although there is still a little guilty feeling in the back of my mind! But you’re right, they took a chance, and if I’m not interested, that was always something that might have happened!

  8. I definitely get that feeling too! There are some sitting on my shelf right now as I type out this comment, and I *do* hope to get to them eventually, but books that I have actually requested do take first priority. If I know I’m definitely not going to read it, I have donated some to my local library (provided they’re not ARC’s), so at least others can experience them.

    • Chiara says:

      I definitely prioritise the books that I have actually requested, and then if there is an unsolicited copy I’m interested in, I’ll read it. But there are some that I know I won’t read because they just don’t really interest me. I suppose I will donate them, in hopes someone else can enjoy them!

  9. Oh yes I used to be very familar with this feeling! But honestly, screw that. I listened to the guilt and read every unsolicited book I received back in the day but it just totally ruined my enjoyment for blogging.

  10. Shannelle says:

    This isn’t really something I have to worry about, since I am international and I have not been trying lately to get myself under the publisher radar. And the idea of unsolicited ARCs sounds nice, but I’d rather just get books that I prefer, simple as that. Hell, when I go the bookstore, I pick what to buy, and when it comes to requesting ARCs, I also pick books that I know I want to read. I’d rather get all excited over getting a book I love than opening a package and feeling disappointed that it’s not my thing.

    It’s not something you should be guilty of, though. You have a right to read whatever you want, and if none of the books that you get interest you in any way, then donate them to the library or give them away some other way. That’s making the most out of the books.

    • Chiara says:

      I do request books I want, but publishers also send out books they think you will like, as well. And while a lot of these aren’t my thing, I have found some really beautiful books that way. So I guess it’s a two sided thing!

      I try not to feel guilty about the ones I don’t read, because there are always the ones I have specifically requested and WILL read and review. And I thin it would be worse if I read and reviewed the book even though I had a pretty good feeling I wouldn’t like it D; I have a pile that I’m going to donate to charity soon, actually!

  11. I RELATE SO MUCH. OMG. *collapses in a puddle* I seem to get a stack of unsolicited books?! And like…should I tell publishers not to send them?!? BECAUSE THEN I’D MISS OUT. Because I’ve gotten like absolutely golden books this way and loved them to pieces. But I’ve also got such crappy books that I knew from the blurb that I’d hate and then page one and then…argh. Torturous messes. I feel so guilty if I don’t review them though. Like I’m getting free books and not reviewing them?!?! I AM BAD. So I mostly do review them and then write sad review and it’s a sad cycle. XD My question is…is it better for the publisher if you review negatively or not at all?!?! AGH.

    • Chiara says:

      SAME. I don’t think I could ever say ‘don’t send me unsolicited copies’ because I have found some really awesome titles that way! And I wouldn’t want to miss out on future potential awesome reads. But yeah, there are some I receive, and I just KNOW that I won’t read them. And then I feel guilty about it D: If *I* was a publisher, I guess I would appreciate an honest review if the reviewer went into the book genuinely wanting to like it. But not so much if the reviewer knew they wouldn’t like it but read it anyway. I guess that’s why, even though it makes me feel guilty, I skip the ones I don’t think I’ll enjoy!

  12. I don’t feel bad if I get an unsolicited book I have no interest in. It’s up to the publicist to make sure they’re sending you items appropriate for your blog. If I get a picture book or an erotica novel, I just try to find it a new home because it’s clearly not something that I would feature on primarily YA book blog.

    • Chiara says:

      I mostly feel bad when it IS a YA book, and I just don’t have any interest in reading it :/ But when I do get sent books out of my genre, I don’t feel AS guilty, because I never signed up for those kinds of titles!

  13. I’ve never really heard anyone else discuss this topic, but I find it very relatable!! I’ve always felt guilty, because I know that I will not always enjoy the books I receive. However, other times I find unsolicited review copies introduce me to books I would not have discovered otherwise! Sometimes I’m pleasantly surprised by what I received, and a little spontaneity is always fun!

    • Chiara says:

      It’s great when you get an unsolicited copy that is AMAZING, or introduces you to a new series! But I’ll always feel a little guilty about the ones that I’m not so interested in. I do still love it when i get surprise book mail, though!

  14. My blog isn’t big enough to get unsolicited review copies, but I do understand where that amazing/guilty feeling can come into play. But I am really happy that you read and enjoyed some unsolicited review copies! Great discussion!

    • Chiara says:

      I know some bloggers who don’t sign up to receive review copies because they want to read what they want to read. I’m grateful for the ones I’ve enjoyed! Thank you, Alice :D

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