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? Veronika
- Blog URL? https://reading-is-dreaming-with-open-eyes.blogspot.com/
- Twitter handle? @VVeronika96
- Where do you live? Hungary
- 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! Unfortunately, reading is not exactly popular in Hungary. According to recent data, less than 10% of Hungarians finish at least one book per month, and 50% say they don’t read. That’s… dreadful. So it’s no wonder that my love for reading doesn’t come from Hungarian society, but from my family – particularly my mom, who has always cherished books.
- What kinds of books do you enjoy reading? My reading style has broadened considerably in the last year or so, to the extent where I occasionally read non-fiction (!) which is NOT something I expected even a couple of years ago. That said, I do have my favorite genres, these are: fantasy, historical fiction and contemporary.
- Have you always been a reader? Yes! The year I learnt to read we were staying with our extended family during Christmas. To this day, they still brings up how I would go up to everyone, and read aloud to those who’d listen to me. Apparently, tiny-me thought my reading was a revolutionary thing that everyone needed to hear and appreciate.
- 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! In the majority of the time I opt for the English version of a novel. In part that’s because not all translations are of good quality, but also because by the time the Hungarian version is published, I’d have likely read or bought the original if I was truly interested. As for what books get translated into Hungarian… bestsellers and popular books have a a good chance of being bought by publishers, although definitely not all of them. In a country with the population of less than 10 million, there really is no space for that many books to be translated. Smaller books are translated, too, but not as frequently. That said, many times I am baffled by which titles are prioritized – it makes sense that Cassandra Clare’s novels are translated super-fast, because she is very popular here. But it’s confusing why Six of Crows, which was acquired by a Hungarian publisher a while ago, still hasn’t been published.
- 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? There are, although even one of the biggest ones in the country has a tiny and terrible selection of foreign-language titles – you could borrow Twilight and Fifty Shades in English, but do you want to!?
- How prevalent are English published books where you live in bookstores? (For example, books printed by HarperCollins.) English books are HARD to find here – I know a couple of online shops that sell foreign-language novels, and one small store, but the selection isn’t the best.Big bookshop chains usually have some English novels to offer on their site and shops, but only a selected few, and nearly always bestsellers. One would likely be able to find titles, such as Harry Potter, Percy Jackson and Fifty Shades (yes, it is everywhere), as well as other novels that are currently hyped up.
- 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 used to be obsessed with Netgalley, but I’ve mostly let it go even before the whole “wish for it” thing started. I request only a handful of titles per year, and not being a big blogger I don’t get approved for all of them. Edelweiss I rarely use – they have a fantastic selection, but it’s more difficult to get approved there.
- Do you experience hurdles or barriers to access for the kinds of books that you read? Please explain if so. I’m privileged enough to have access to fantastic online stores that have never let me down. I think, the key difference is that US, UK or AUS readers can usually purchase books for cheaper than I can. Secondhand bookstores and library sales have terrible selections: I’ve never found a YA novel at either of these places… it is mostly older books, usually ones that were more on the unpopular side even 10+ years ago.
- If you could make one change to the publishing landscape, what would you do? Distribute ARCs in a way that is more fair. There’s something sad about reviewers, who receive no payment, having to play pass the parcel with ARC copies to get them into the hands of marginalized readers who want to see themselves represented. No, I don’t care if these readers reside in the United States, Spain, Nigeria or anywhere else. As I see it, if publishers can make exceptions when sending ARCs to big international bloggers, they should do the same for marginalized folk.
- Help other international bloggers out… What resources do you use to obtain the books that you want to read? I debated if I should share the Hungarian shops/sites, and decided against it – if anyone living here wants to hear about them, feel free to contact me on twitter!
– The Book Depository offers free shipping to many countries.– Better World Books is a great source for used and new books, with free shipping and great bargains.– Amazon.de aka the German Amazon has friendly shipping rates to various European countries, and they have a huge selection of English titles.– World of Books is a used bookstore, situated in the UK, with amazing selection. They charge 2 pounds per book for shipping.– AbeBooks connects you with thousands of sellers around the world – shipping depends on the sellers.– Awesombooks.com also offers friendly shipping rates to multiple countries.– Wordery.com’s prices are not necessarily the lowest, but it is a useful site for those looking for free delivery to many-many countries.
Do you have any other experiences as a reader around the world that you would like to share? Not really – you asked great questions. ^^
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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