Welcome to Reading Around the Globe, a new series here on Reader Voracious Blog geared at fostering a culture of understanding in the bookish community about access to books in various countries around the world. Each post in the series highlights a full interview with one international reader. You can read more about this series here on the series master post.
- What is your name? Jossie
- Blog URL? thebookdragoncorner.wordpress.com
- Twitter handle? @jossbookdragon
- Where do you live? I lived in Mexico for the first 17 years of my life, then I moved to Texas where I’ve been in school for almost 7 years, but I go back to Mexico every holiday.
- Do you find that there is a culture of reading where you live? If not, tell us a bit how you came to be one! Speaking in the general sense, there is not a culture of reading in Mexico, that is why the books are so expensive, I became a reader because my mother read to me ever since I was little and encouraged me to keep reading until I found a love for it on my own.
- What kinds of books do you enjoy reading? Started out as anything that was fiction, because there wasn’t really a culture on reading that would teach me that there were different genres. The more I read the more I branched out into fantasy, YA, sci-fi, etc.
- Have you always been a reader? No, I’ve always read, but for the first years of my life, my mom made me read books, it wasn’t until middle school that I picked it up on my own
- Do you also read books published in your native language/published locally to you? If so, tell us a bit about what kinds of books are published in your country!Because Spanish was my native language, I started out reading only in Spanish, but they would be books that were translated from American Authors. I didn’t start reading in English until I moved to Texas. I prefer reading in English, but because I spend so much time in Mexico still, I read in Spanish every now and then.Because the city in Mexico were I grew up is border town with Texas, we have a lot of American published books translated, which is nice.
- Are there libraries where you live? If so, what kinds of books can you find there? Are you able to get the books that you want? Because there is no culture of reading, we have very small libraries in Mexico, in my city, I only got to see one library the whole time I lived there, and it was mostly books related to science and history. The library wasn’t an option for me to get books I liked. It also wasn’t modernized, so the ebook wasn’t an option.
- How prevalent are English published books where you live in bookstores? (For example, books printed by HarperCollins.) You see them a lot, in Spanish of course, but by American publishers yes.
- Do you use NetGalley or Edelweiss to request electronic galleys for review? If so, what kind of success rate would you estimate for you personally? I’ve only just started using both this month, and I have the privilege to be able to use my US living status, but I know that specially for Netgalley, if I had to use my Mexico status, I would have trouble getting accepted
- Do you experience hurdles or barriers to access for the kinds of books that you read? Please explain if so. Like I mentioned before, there is not a lot of demand for books in Mexico, which makes it hard to find places that are willing to invest in books to sell. And the places that do sell them, put prices very very high, to try to make a revenue. Online shopping isn’t an option for me because of shipping, and there are no used book stores in the city. The only book store I knew closed down recently, and the book section in convenience and grocery stores have gone from small to none existent.
- If you could make one change to the publishing landscape, what would you do? I was back in Mexico this summer, and I got to experience the desperate attempt of my city to bring back the reading culture. They organized the first ever book fair of the city, and it was surprisingly big and had a surprising big turnout. I think that publishers should get involved in events like these in international places. I think that the reason why publishers often ignore places like Mexico is because there is no demand, but if they invest in events that will push people to get involved in the reading world, they could help create that demand they need. They’ll find that if given the chance, people do want to read, they just need better access to it.
- Help other international bloggers out… What resources do you use to obtain the books that you want to read? https://www.gutenberg.org
- Do you have any other experiences as a reader around the world that you would like to share? Like I said before, I have the privilege of having a US address, and I spend most of my time in Texas. I know that for people that have only been in the US/UK/AUS it’s hard to imagine, but we are big time lucky. I’ve been in both sides, and let me tell you, being a reader in Mexico was hell. I went from having around 10 very expensive books, to moving to Texas and currently having over 200 books in my collection. Used bookstores, libraries, cheap shipping to an US address, Netgalley and Edelweiss, those were not an option for me when I lived in Mexico, and they are only an option now because my ID has a US address now. So even if I spend 3 months in Mexico, I can access my library online because of my US address, I can order online and ship to my US address, this is a privilege. Also, for those of you that think that Book Depository is the solution to every international reader’s problems, it is not “free shipping”, the price of the book changes depending on your location. So in Book Depository a book is more expensive in Mexico than it is in the US, same book, different price depending on location, so if you are broke, you are screwed.
Please note that all experiences reflected in the interviews are personal and are not meant to generalize what reading access is like in each country. If you are interested in participating please DM me on Twitter.