Book reviewer Jonathan Strahan, who also edits a number of anthologies including two yearly "best of" science fiction and fantasy collections, writes that he is tired of receiving PDFs of novels and stories and being expected to absorb the said printing costs. As he states, "PDFs are, no matter what anyone says, designed to be printed." Strahan then estimates that printing off a PDF of one 500 page novel "means about $6.00 worth of paper and about $20.00 worth of printingcosts. Call it $25.00. That’s close to what the final book will cost to buy, once it’s been published. I can justify that cost from time to time, but not day after day." As a result, Strahan is considering restricting his reading for his year’s best anthologies to printed copies only.
It's a shame Strahan has to consider such a ban, but it's an understandable reaction to an equally understandable trend. I review books for several places and while I'm nowhere near as big a name as Strahan, I also receive PDFs of upcoming novels. I understand that this delivery method is both faster and cheaper for publishers, authors, and promoters--which is obviously why they prefer it to mailing advance copies of books. But people need to be careful not to make sending PDFs instead of printed copies the norm; likewise, always query first to see if the person wants to receive a PDF of a massive novel. Otherwise, more reviewers will institute bans like the one Strahan is considering.