ARCs for THIS BURNS MY HEART arrived this week, and I welcomed them with a pleasure near physical in its intensity. Pronounced “arcs”–as in Noah’s ark, or character arc–they’re sent to booksellers, reviewers, and the all-important “big mouth” folks to build buzz. They’re similar, in my mind, to the film festival circuit that some films often travel in before opening in theaters. In our Age of Information, news travel fast about the merits of a book.
Before I got my ARCs in the mail, I feared disappointment. What if they weren’t nice? What if they were printed in glossy thick paper (a particular pet peeve of mine)? What if they didn’t live up to the Platonic ideal of an ARC swimming in my head? Expert at managing expectations, I’m always waiting for a letdown–but the ARC looked great.
It had–to my delight, and this seemed to matter most of all–a pulpy cover that felt substantial and good to the touch. It had–to my surprise–my picture on the back–making it look very much like a finished book. It had an attractive cover image–which I’d seen before–as well as a striking spine and back–which I hadn’t seen before.
My ARC came out after the interiors had been designed, so it looks very finished. It resembles a trade paperback that got very tall. It felt good to touch it, and feel its weight on my hands.
The ARC reminded me of why I love physical books: the feel of the soft paper against your fingers, the noise the pages make as you turn them, the ability to flip through it and get a sense of its wholeness.