Galleygate: Open Questions to Stephen Elliott

Since my critical comment in response to the Rumpus Book Club is “awaiting moderation,” I thought I would reproduce it here:

Since nobody here has the balls to ask important questions (and I fully expect this comment to be deleted), and Elliott has been far from transparent, here goes:

1. A galley typically costs at least $5 to make. Are you paying the publishers for these galleys with these funds? Or are you pocketing the cash and plundering these galleys, redistributing them among the people who pay you money for financial gain? If the latter, then how can this be considered even remotely ethical (particularly in light of the recent FTC blogger policy)?

2. How is it ethical to take money from subscribers when they can express their professional interest and have the galley sent to them for free when they write to the publisher?

3. Why are you disrespecting the authors with this plan? The galley is not the version that the author wishes to put out. It is riddled with typos, gaffes, and other errors. So not only are you besmirching an author’s vision. You are also taking away much needed sales to that author that will assist her in getting another book deal.

4. Why cut into the galley supply like this? Galleys are typically distributed to booksellers, critics, et al. so that a publisher stands a chance of getting some advance buzz or generating sales. When you take fifty galleys, then this destroys fifty potential shots at a book getting publicity. It is nothing less than monopolizing a supply that you have no right to horde.

RELATED: Liz Burns’s thoughts on a library that categorizes an ARC as the finished copy in its stacks.

UPDATE: Stephen Elliott has responded at the Rumpus:

I think you’re wrong about this. I don’t think we’ll be sending galleys out the majority of the time. I don’t want to commit to that, because I’m not sure, but I’m reasonably certain that the majority of time it will be hardcover books, not galleys. Or it might be a mix.

If the publishers don’t think participating in the book club will be good for sales they probably won’t agree to do it. The author has to agree to it as well. An awful lot of authors have already asked us to consider using their book.

While I appreciate Mr. Elliott’s civil tone, he has not yet directly addressed the four questions. Hopefully this open exchange will encourage him to do so.