I’m not going to lie. Hawthorne switched from printed review copies to digital because the former is an onerous expense for a small press. I saw a way to decrease costs by sending digital copies when at all possible. The industry increasingly embraces digital review copies as eReading devises become more commonplace and readers participate and become members in various virtual literary communities such as Narrative, Carve, Slate, The Rumpus, The Collagist, Flavorwire, and other innovative online literary websites, journals, and blogs. Katie Moody at the American Book Review wrote in response to the eBook we sent her, “It’s so good to see others making the transition to digital. I’ll forward the review copy and press release to the reviewer.” Our digital review copies are exact replicas of both the printed and eBook versions and can be read across all platforms, on one’s computer screen, or simply printed out.
The obvious benefit to sending digital review copies is the green factor. Less materials, less paper, less gasoline, less carbon footprint. Better for all living creatures. Another bonus is the expediency of a digital copy, instant gratification. Send Hawthorne an email requesting a review copy, voilà, here it is attached, and, hey, since it’s Friday, you can now read it over the weekend.
I’m not going to lie. It bothers me when I see Hawthorne review copies on bookstore shelves for sale. I see a lost royalty for an author. I see lost sales for the publisher. I know. I know. I accept that review copies are a necessary cost of goods sold. I need to suck it up, not whine about minute lost revenue. This wouldn’t sting if the percentage of book reviews based on copies sent were not woefully low, maybe five to ten percent generally? Review eBooks may be shared, but I haven’t seen any listed as retail.
Hopefully, digital review copies will replace printed review copies as an industry standard. I am a cheapskate in order to survive, and if it helps the planet, even better.