Stuff That Bothers Me: NetGalley, Edelweiss and ebook formats

Ever since I found out about NetGalley, I’ve been requesting books that interested me. I love how easy it is for readers to connect with publishers, to get free eARCs of books and to send feedback directly to the publisher. HOWEVER.

I have NetGalley Logobeen granted a number of books lately that I would really like to read. But most of them are DRM-protected epubs that I load on my reader (Kobo) via Adobe Digital Editions. Now I don’t mind that (apart from my general dislike of DRM) but when I receive an epub copy that is clearly a scanned PDF file, there is really no way of reading it. The font type is tiny and I can’t make it larger on my reader because the file isn’t really text, it’s images. I could zoom in on every page, scroll down – if you have an eReader you know this is no fun – zoom out again, turn the page and repeat. But seriously, who does that for a few hundred pages? I certainly don’t, which means I end up not reading the books I’ve been given. Which again leads to a very guilty conscience on my side.

Am I the only one dealing with this problem? I truly want to hold up my end of the bargain but reading a terribly formatted ebook is so tedious and annoying that even a free book is not worth the effort. Then I’d rather go and buy my own copy and be able to read it like a normal person, on paper or in a format that lets me set the font to a size that won’t ruin my sight.

I don’t get (or ever expect to) paper ARCs because I doubt anyone would want to ship books to Austria – the amateur marketing part of my brain tells me it’s just not worth it. Even if I ended up writing a rave review. So dear publishers. If you want us to read and review the books you offer us for free, then please, please, please give us formats that are readable.

Edelweiss Logo

Just a few weeks ago, I also discovered Edelweiss, another website that makes it possible to request free ebooks prior to publication. Difficult to navigate as it is, I received an ebook of Brom’s Krampus and was on page 50 or so. The next day, I tried to open up the book on my reader and a very friendly message popped up, letting me know that this DRM-protected file had expired. A bit of research informed me that it was the official publication date. So my question here is: Do you NOT want me to review a book once it’s out? This particular blog may still be small and not very well-known but I am still generating free publicity for your publishing company and for a book and its author. I would have been done within the week! Most NetGalley books also expire, but at least they grant you a few weeks after publication date to finish the book.

I guess at this point I should at least mention the publishers who offer good copies of their books. Angry Robot always sent me epubs that were wonderfully readable, St. Martin’s Press answered my e-mail, asking for a properly formatted copy of Jay Kristoff’s Stormdancer, with an invite to download an epub copy. Thanks again for that. I’ve read and reviewed all of these books here on the blog and if another one of their titles strikes me as interesting, I’ll be requesting it. Other publishers? Not so much.

Ever since I started blogging, I’ve read up on discussions about the blogger/publisher relationship. Again, I don’t have any personal experience with receiving paper copies but from what I’ve seen of NetGalley and Edelweiß, I am very close to throwing the towel (is that a Germanism?) and just going back to buying my own books, reading them at my own speed and writing reviews for whoever stumbles upon this page.

What I’m interested in is: Do any of you have the same problems? Do you convert your books (which requires you to remove the DRM-protection) and make them readable that way? Do you contact the publishers directly? Or have you given up on NetGalley?