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? Maria
- Blog URL? I don’t have a blog yet, I’m thinking of creating one but I don’t know if I am brave enough
- Twitter handle? @bookish4life
- Where do you live? I live in Viña del Mar, Chile
- 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! I don’t think there is a reading culture in my country (Chile) as a teacher I can tell you that students in high school and even middle school find it really tedious when they are given any book to read in their mother tongue. And as an English teacher is even more difficult to encourage students to pick up a book. I believe that one of the main reasons there is no reading culture is because books tend to be pretty expensive here and only a small percentage of people are able to buy books.
- What kinds of books do you enjoy reading? I don’t have any favorite genres per se. I read historical fiction, fantasy, YA, thrillers, among many other genres. My one criteria is that if the story catches my attention, I will probably end up reading it.
- Have you always been a reader? I discovered my love of reading when I was, I think, 12 years old and a friend told me to read Twilight. I fell in love with that book and I couldn’t stop reading about vampires, paranormal stuff, etc. So from that point on I became a reader, it was like a new world opened in front of my eyes and I asked myself why I didn’t start earlier, and why did I hate reading so much when I was little.
- 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! I actually don’t read in Spanish now, since I’m an English teacher I focus on reading only books in English so that I’m always in contact with the language. However, I do own some books that I read when I was younger such the Fallen series (in Spanish) , Twilight in Spanish, and other books that are from American authors and that have been translated into Spanish.
In terms of the local literature (Chilean literature), from my own reading experience I can say that it focuses on myths from here, there are also a lot of books that focus on depicting the life of people in the north and south of our country (like their lifestyles), and of course Chile is very popular because of some amazing poets that we have had. Some great Chilean authors are Isabel Allende, Pablo Neruda, Gabriela Mistral, Nicanor Parra, Roberto Bolaño, Maria Luisa Bombal, Alberto Fuguet and many others.
- 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? In my region there are two libraries but they have pretty old books and I don’t think that they have a system where you can just ask for new books or something like that. Because of that, and because I also read books in English it’s pretty much impossible for me to use the library so my only option is to buy books from online sites that ship internationally and that ship to my country, taking into consideration that the shipping fee has to be free or very inexpensive, if I want to get the books that I want.
- How prevalent are English published books where you live in bookstores? (For example, books printed by HarperCollins.) In my city there is only one bookstore that sells books in English and let me tell you that their English section is pretty poor in terms of new releases, they are pretty much non-existent. If you want to read classics then you are set because they have a fair collection of them, but that’s pretty much it.
- 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 recently discovered NetGalley, and I have requested some graphic novels and I haven’t received a no for a answer, I don’t know if that is how the website works since I only discovered it like a few weeks ago thanks to Twitter. As for Edelweiss, up to this point I hadn’t heard of that website.
- Do you experience hurdles or barriers to access for the kinds of books that you read? Please explain if so. I think one of the main barriers that I have in order to read the books that I want (in their original language) is that there are not so many places where I can get them from, for a reasonable price. And that’s the main issue, because for example Amazon has a large variety of books and it ships to Chile but their shipping fee is so expensive (it’s like 30 or more dollars). Another pretty popular option to get cheap books is BookOutlet but that website doesn’t ship to my country. So the list keeps narrowing down. And I know that there is the option to get ebooks, and that there is no restriction in terms of where you live and shipping but the thing is that I prefer to have physical books, because I enjoy that reading experience. And because of that, I don’t have many options for getting the books that I want to read.
- If you could make one change to the publishing landscape, what would you do? I don’t know if this is a change to the publishing landscape per se, but I would truly want there to be more options for people like me who like to read their books in their original language to have the option to purchase those books, here, in my country.
- Help other international bloggers out… What resources do you use to obtain the books that you want to read? Since I primarily buy physical books, I have three websites that I find awesome in terms of shipping prices and book prices. The first one is of course BookDepository, as you all probably know it offers free shipping, their prizes are pretty okay, however you do have to wait a long time for the book to arrive (if you live in Chile, about 1-2 months). Other website that I find awesome to buy books is Kennys which also offers free shipping and sometimes has awesome books deals, the downside is that it also takes a long time for the books to arrive. And the last website that I use is Thriftbooks, this website is awesome because they sell used books for pretty cheap, however the downside is that you have to pay for shipping, and it increases as you get more books so I recommend getting two books so that the shipping isn’t that expensive, and again it takes more than 2 months for the books to arrive.
- Do you have any other experiences as a reader around the world that you would like to share? One last thing that I would like to share is that I know that as an international reader I have the option to read the translations available in my country for the books that I am interested in, but as an English teacher, and as a foreign language learner there is no greater achievement that to read your favorite book or any book in their original language, being able to purchase that book and add it to your personal library is such an invaluable experience as a bookworm that having to experience so many hurdles just for the fact that I leave in a foreign country it feels pretty unfair. And, I know is wishful thinking but I would really appreciate if the publishing companies around the world could take international readers into account so that we have the same opportunities as readers that live in the US/UK/AUS.
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.