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? Silje (a bit weird to pronounce in English since it’s a very nordic name).
- Blog URL? www.inkedbybooks.wordpress.com
- Twitter handle? Also @inkedbybooks granted I’m not the best at tweeting about books but I love to see everybody else do it. I’m mostly on bookstagram also with @inkedbybooks
- Where do you live? Just outside Copenhagen in Denmark!
- 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! Yes I would say there is. Growing up my mother and grandmother would always have a book in their hands, and so I think it was quite natural for me to be interested in books. But it was first when I moved schools in about 6th grade that I found people my age that also enjoyed reading. At that age I pretty much swallowed up a book a day, so it wasn’t until I was like 16 I found people as extreme as me and wasn’t seem as THAT weird girl. Now we were the weird GROUP lmao.
- What kinds of books do you enjoy reading? I love fantasy and sci-fi. I’ve always used reading as a way to escape, even as a small child, and I find it easier to do so in those genres. But I do read pretty much anything that recommended to me, no matter the genre. I read both MG, YA and Adult. I’m not to focused on ages groups as long as I enjoy it.
- Have you always been a reader? Harry Potter kickstarted my love for reading in second grade, so I’ve been swallowing books since I was about 8! I have had breaks where my mental health wasn’t very good and so I could barely think about picking up a book. But I realized how important books are for my “sanity”, so I try to make it work the best as I can.
- 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! Okay, apologies if this get’s too long but WOW do I struggle with this. Denmark does have quite a big publishing industry (at least for the size of the country) I think. The world mostly knows it for the crime thrillers and such, but we do have loads of kid/youth authors. In recent years there’s been quite the surge in Danish written fantasy books for the YA age, and I’ve enjoyed seeing that evolve. Recently certain publications has become really good at translating very big English YA books. Think Adam Silvera, Becky Albertalli and Sarah J. Maas (the ACOTAR translation is so bad tho.. don’t get me started on that). So there’s definitely a market that grows bigger and bigger. But I got 2 issues: 1) Danish book are so expensive that it HURTS! Normally I can get an English paperback for like 80 Danish Krones on bookdepository. Danish books or translations usually cost between 200-300 Danish Krones which is.. a lot. 2) This lead me to issue 2, because I obviously don’t wanna buy 1 Danish book when I can get like 3-4 English books for the same price. But luckily the Danish publishers hold giveaways often where you can win the book, and I’ve been lucky a few times. So I pretty much only read Danish books if I win them, or get it gifted from the Publisher. I love working with Danish publishers, I think it’s really cool but it’s actually my issue 2. Because I started my blogging with English books most of my followers and interactions have been with Non-Danish folks. It’s only been in the last 6 months that I’ve started working with Danish publishers and gotten a lot of Danish followers and friends in the (very small) Danish blogging community. Juggling 2 different publishing industries is one thing, but the interaction has been very weird to figure out. I post (at a max) 1 danish related post on my bookstagram out of 10 post. There will usually be something in Danish (as required by the publisher) but I do my best to also make it intersting for English followers like translate it or make it interesting. But there’s always a ton of people that unfollow me, when they see me Danish related post. It’s especially bad on my wordpress blog. My blog have an English part and Danish part, so if you don’t wanna see the Danish stuff you could just get the English option. But still, my interactions and follower count drops a lot when I post Danish stuff. I have found that it helps if I start my Danish blog post out with something English like (“my next blog post will be english a be about XX”). It just frustrates me as I would love to be apart of both “worlds” and also because I don’t REALLY do that much Danish stuff. And then because I don’t do tHAT much Danish stuff I don’t get invited to a lot of cool Danish events like people with less interaction and followers than me do (I realises this can sound pretty shitty, and would like to just point out that I’m friends with most of these people so I’m so proud of them to get invited and stuff!!) But yeah. I could talk about this forever.
- 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? I grew up up on the country side, so the library we had was SO SMALL (but it was there!). It didn’t take me long for me to basically empty it. In Denmark the libraries can order copies from each other, so there was always a lot of librarians helping me with that. But there was definitely a point where my mom realized when had to go to the nearest biggest city for me to get my reading material. In my family we only read library books. My mom read A LOT but we never even had a bookshelf as there was no need. Then I moved to Copenhagen and I found the gem that is the Copenhagen central library(it has escalators!!! it’s huge!!), and I spent many years there with friends, alone, or doing writing workshops. Libraries were definitely a refugee for me. It is very hard to get new releases English books tho, there will always be a waiting list of 30+ people on 1 copy, so as I started getting into the blogging world I use the library less and less. (also because I now have work with stupid hours so I can’t return my stuff on time. then I get tickets and that’s expensive. yikes)
- How prevalent are English published books where you live in bookstores? (For example, books printed by HarperCollins.) In inner Copenhagen there are 2 bookstores with a pretty good collection of English books, maybe you’ll be able to find an English shelf in a bookstore outside Copenhagen but it’s not often. (I use Copenhagen as an example because I live there. In Århus (another big city) it’s the same. So in the big cities). The books are also way more expensive than on for example bookdepository. They often cost 50 more Danish Krones in stores. But I do try to buy in those stores to support them, and sometimes you can of course find a good deal! I will say that it’s only well know authors with popular books that are there. If you want something more divers/lesser known, you will have to go online.
- 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 don’t actually. I have considered it, but other international peoples experiences makes it hard for me to want to try. And personally I would rather just wait a couple of months than get sad over the fact that I won’t be approved for anything.
- Do you experience hurdles or barriers to access for the kinds of books that you read? Please explain if so. I mentioned stuff relevant to this question already I think. But I sometimes feel like there’s such a pressure to read diverse books or lesser known books(which I of course get) but it just doesn’t take into consideration that I won’t have access to those books in my bookstores, and if it’s American it’s going to be very expensive to get online. I also usually have to get stuff in paperback as hardback is too expensive. And not all books get published as a paperback right away, so when people talk new releases it’s very hard to keep up or even participate.
(also on bookstagram specifically, it’s SO HARD to get bookish merch as shipping is sometimes more than the items. omg)
If you could make one change to the publishing landscape, what would you do? It would just be to have more focus on international people. Both as readers and bloggers. Recently we’ve had a spike in English authors that visit Denmark and that’s so nice so I hope it continues. (I’m aware that its not the authors that decide these things)
- Help other international bloggers out… What resources do you use to obtain the books that you want to read? Overdrive!! I’ve been told it doesn’t work for some European countries which suck! But you should try it out. You connect your national library to the overdrive app and then you get access to English titles. There will be stuff they don’t have ofc, but I have requested some and gotten it granted! There’s also some self-publishing authors out there willing to send physical copies of their books. Be sure not to write them off just because they’re self-publishing. But do be careful as I had someone be very mean to me after my review was posted. Please know that you’re just as entitled to your opinions as American/UK bloggers. And you shouldn’t pretend to like a book more than you did just because they used more money on shipping (you didn’t force them to ship it to you, right!)
- Do you have any other experiences as a reader around the world that you would like to share? I wish I could share all the amazing moments I’ve had with other international readers through social media, and show you how much those friendships mean to me. I can’t do that without making this email far too long (it’s already a lot..) but I truly appreciate that I can be a part of the book community.
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.