An ARC (advance reading copy*) is a prepublication copy of your book that is distributed to reviewers and bookstores to stir up interest in your book. If reviewers provide feedback in time, excerpts of their reviews can be used on the cover and in marketing materials. Bookstores may place orders for your books based on the ARC.
Traditionally an ARC had a plain white cover. Now it’s more likely to be full color with some type of notice on the front:
ADVANCE READING COPY
Not for sale
The back cover may contain the book description. More importantly, it will give the release date, all the formats to be available, ISBN, category, price, marketing and publicity contact information, distribution information, and bullet points of the marketing plan (important for booksellers). The back cover will not have a barcode.
Printers who specialize in printing using a digital press (as opposed to offset) will print as few as 25 copies.
360 Digital does good work, and their prices are competitive.
Many of the established book printers are adding digital capabilities, if they don’t already have them. It doesn’t cost anything to get a quote. Make sure the printer you request a quote from offers digital printing. Offset printing usually isn’t cost-effective until you’re printing 500 or more books.
*Advance, not advanced; reading, not review.