Welcome to Reading Around the Globe, a 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? Laurie
- Blog URL? https://lauriesbookshelf.com
- Twitter handle? @lauriesbooks_
- Where do you live? The Netherlands
- 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. Many people read over here. We have lots of opportunities to get access to books. Each town/village has a library and if not, there is a library somewhere in a close distance. We have bookshops in most towns/villages as well as several online bookstores. Furthermore, there are possibilities to read online (e.g. Storytel, Kobo Plus). Even the library offers some ebooks and especially in summer.
- What kinds of books do you enjoy reading? I read many kinds of books, but mainly YA. However, I read thrillers, romance etc as well. I’m not the biggest fan of non-fiction and definitely not one for erotica.
- Have you always been a reader? Yes, quite. I used to go for months without reading in my first years of uni, because I just hit a slump so hard. Because I’m blind, my access to books was limited and the library for the blind was hugely behind. It was only when I discovered the world of ebooks that I picked my avid reading habits up again. This has been since 2015. I was still at uni, but managed to squeeze reading in between. The library for the blind has improved, but it still takes them sometimes a year or more to add a book to their collection. Luckily I have found other legal resources to read. Oh, I forgot to mention my required high school reading. Those books were so boring, I really hated them.
- 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! Yes. I prefer reading in Dutch, but I can read in English as well without it being a struggle. We get many translated books over here, thankfully. Most popular YA gets translated. Same goes for other genres. What I find of Dutch authors? Oh well. They often cannot meet with the standards of international authors. Of course we have great ones, but I always end up choosing translated books. Most Dutch authors write chicklit and feelgood and those are not really my genres. When it comes to young adult, most authors and publishers here target their books for a younger audience. The main characters are in the age of 12-16 and most Dutch YA is marketed as 13+. However, we see a shift now. Main characters are getting older and therefore the books are targeted/marketed for an older YA audience. They don’t have a middle-grade feeling anymore. Do we have thriller writers? Yes. However, they tend to stick to one formula which obviously works, but gets boring to me. Some authors write what we call literature here. Those books are heavy-themed and more difficult to read. I read some good ones, but they mainly are too boring or remind me too much of the required reading in high school.
- 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? Yes. We have The National Royal Library where you can also find historic articles. You need to make an appointment to be able to retrieve these. But the public library is really huge. They have several floors. You should go to the public one if you just want books to read and to the royal one for when you need to retrieve academic articles or archives. As stated before, I’m not going there.
- How prevalent are English published books where you live in bookstores? (For example, books printed by HarperCollins.) Funny question as I live in The Hague and we have one of the two American Book Centers in town. They solely sell English books. In Rotterdam there is a bookstore with a large English collection too, but you can also find English books in other bookstores, be it a smaller amount. Otherwise they can order them for you. However, Harper Collins has a Dutch department, so we get many books from Harper and Harlequin as well.
- 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? No. I considered NetGalley, but I heard complaints of other international bloggers that it’s a pain in the ass now when you’re not living in either the US or the UK. So, I don’t see the point of registering myself there. Moreover, I’m not at the point of review copies etc. I want to be ready for it and to know whether I have the time for them or not. Furthermore, it makes more sense for me to request books from Dutch publishers whenever the time is right and the books appeal to me. I just don’t feel the urge to get ARCs etc right now.
- Do you experience hurdles or barriers to access for the kinds of books that you read? Please explain if so. Sometimes with the library for the blind. I either by the book then or let it go. Highly anticipated books I buy. However I subscribed to an American library service for the blind, which also accepts international members, and their collection is updated quicker than the Dutch library. I don’t mind to read the books in English then or listen to them on either Storytel or Scribd.
- If you could make one change to the publishing landscape, what would you do? Hmmmmmmm…… Saying “make the books cheaper” is not much of an option, since they have more costs to cover here. What about a translator? Books are often around €20, a paperback. I don’t know how much that is in US Dollars, but it’s much more expensive than English books. Like, double the price.
- Help other international bloggers out… What resources do you use to obtain the books that you want to read? Libraries for the blind (both dutch and American), buying them on online webshops (Dutch books), buying them on Kindle (highly anticipated English books), Storytel and Scribd (audiobooks+ebooks).
- Do you have any other experiences as a reader around the world that you would like to share? No.
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.
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