Spare Me the Sneak Peaks

Can I just tell you all how much I hate “sneak peaks” of books? It wasn’t really an issue when I was mostly reading crime fiction or literary fiction and before there were digital galleys. But once I started reading romance, it became a problem; the same with digital galleys.

If you’re not familiar, and really unless you are a reviewer why would you be, digital galleys are the e-book version of advance reader copies. ARCs are the paperback pre-published books that publishers mail out to reviewers usually months before the book actually hits store shelves. I still get a lot of print galleys, but no where near what I used to get prior to the end of the world as we know it, AKA e-books.

Now I am like a kid in a candy store. There are two main websites that distribute digital galleys and they are constantly updating them. Between the two, I can choose between literally thousands of pre-published books, most of which are mine for the taking. Some I have to send a request to the publisher, but they almost always approve it.

So when I saw Gayle Forman has a new book coming out, I clicked on “read now” before I read the fine print. She writes both “young adult” and “women’s fiction” books and while I don’t read many young adult books, I make exceptions for certain authors like Rainbow Rowell and Gayle Forman. The upcoming book is called “I Have Lost My Way” and I was still excited after I realized it was a young adult book. But then when I looked a little closer, I saw the dreaded “Sneak Peak” on the picture of the book cover. Luckily, the other website had the full galley available so I was spared.

Romance readers are undoubtedly used to this. You read a romance, get your happily ever after, then you turn the page and there is chapter one of the next book in the series or the first book of a new series or whatever. But just the first chapter, or sometimes the first few chapters.

With the advent of digital galleys, there are occasionally “buzz books” put together, a compilation of sneak peaks of several upcoming books. There are monthly versions and usually after a big conference, like Book Expo or the American Library Association annual conference, there will be digital “books” of sneak peaks of the upcoming books heralded at the conference. I still like the buzz books because they also include a roundup of upcoming titles, but I mostly ignore the excerpts now.

I used to eagerly read them, but then I noticed something, and maybe I’m the only one with this issue. When the book finally did become available in its entirety, I would start reading it and realize it was way too familiar – oh wait, I must have read this already. Then put the book down and move on to the next one. Occasionally, if a book becomes really popular or I keep hearing about it for whatever reason, I will look at it more closely, and once or twice I realized I hadn’t actually read the book, just a sneak peak!

So my solution now is to just ignore them. I don’t turn the page at the end of a romance, if I download buzz books to my e-reader I just read the roundups, and if I accidentally get a “sneak peak,” I’m not going to read it. I got an email from the marketing department at Grand Central letting me know that David Baldacci’s  next Amos Decker thriller, The Fallen, will be available on April 17. They included a link to a digital excerpt. I will not be clicking that link. I will wait, however impatiently, for the entire book.

Maybe its symptomatic of reading 4-6 books a week that I can’t remember that I read only the beginning of whatever book feels familiar. And I’m certainly not going to start scanning through the thousands of titles on my Kindle and iPad to see if it was in another book somewhere. If it took me weeks to read a book then I may not have this problem, but it doesn’t. I read most books in a day or two and almost immediately start the next one.

That is the beauty of the e-book, by the way, to have hundreds of books just waiting for me to read them. Just not the sneak peaks.

8 Responses to Spare Me the Sneak Peaks

  1. Very interesting take! I have done this myself; started reading a book & thought, have I read this? Then realized after much brain searching I’d read the sneak peak!

  2. Mary C says:

    I stopped reading sneak peaks for the same reason.

  3. Ashima Jain says:

    I love your take on this. When I started reading romance as a young girl, I would always read the excerpts of the new book at the end. But I soon realised on actually reading that book,that the excerpts had nearly ruined the reading experience. So, having learnt my lesson after a few such experiences, I stopped reading the excerpts altogether.
    Now I read almost all genres (barring a select few) but never ever do I bother with the excerpts. The blurb is as far as I get because they don’t have spoilers.

  4. Clif Bradley says:

    I also have this issue. I was, and still am, a member of a few ARC groups for certain authors. Even in that group, certain authors release only a few chapters at a time so that we can scan for typos, punctuation errors, weapon and terminology errors, etc. The problem is that they release the chapters in no particular order and sometimes you get the final chapters before the others of the book and it ruins the whole book. Sometimes the whole book is completely changed from what you read. All these tactics are done to force even the loyal ARC readers to buy the actual book, but post a pre-release review on Amazon, Google, etc. Then as a reward for our work, we are given sample chapters from the next book. This isn’t all authors but a few and it’s spreading. Many people are dropping out of the groups and the authors are ‘perplexed’. I’m learning it’s better to just be a fan and buy the book.

    • Stacy Alesi says:

      Hi Clif, I’m not familiar with these “ARC groups”. I have done some early reading for a few authors, but while they have sent a few chapters at a time, they always sent them in order. I would not enjoy reading bits and pieces as you describe. Thanks for writing!

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