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.
- 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! This require a long answers that is yes and no at the same time. Italy has a really big history of culture, literature included. But now Italian book market as huge problems because everyday people don’t read in general. But at the same time, probably the younger generations are starting to approach books again, because we’re getting a lot of originally English written young adult novels. Point is that is not much a matter of economical situation, aside from people that really cannot afford a book. I mean, yes, for sure there are case of families that can afford books despite the low income, but because of the economical situation, they decided to privilege something other instead of literature. It’s not their primary concern. Or families that, because of this situation and the way they grow up, end up discharging literature as something unimportant. As so, I need to add that even poor families, if have a reading culture, they would totally purchase even one book and read it. Yet, people with extreme wealth or an average income, despite being surrender by books and people that read around them, they decide to do not read and see books as boring. Is also very true that this go hands in hand with general ignorance. Not that many Italian readers got general culture, either way.
- What kinds of books do you enjoy reading? I’ve a big range of choice, since I can adapt quite easily. But I’ve a particular love for fantasy and every “non-realistic” genres. Young adult range is fine for me but I read in the adult section too. Sometimes a young adult contemporary is exactly what I need too.
- Have you always been a reader? Yes, even if I had some long years in which I didn’t touch a book.
- 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 used to read book in my original language but when I started to read young adult in English, then searched for them in Italy… ewww. Italy has a distorted concept of young adult, since the section is basically made with John Green’s books, Italian youtuber books and a lot of “bad boys” or super romance. It’s just… no. Also, publisher tend to takes ages before publishing a book and destroy their covers. Some series do not even get published fully. Like neither the Grisha Trilogy and The Raven Cycle are completed in my country, but stopped ages ago to the first and the second book respectively. Another point is that I realized how much English is far more direct than Italian, and that’s a thing I deeply appreciate.
- 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? Specifically in my zone, the answer is no. The city has libraries but not has many as people think. And also don’t have any English books that I read. So the “go to the library” argument is not valid. Also because is not free. So, libraries are completely useless to me.
- How prevalent are English published books where you live in bookstores? (For example, books printed by HarperCollins.) Very little. In Italy we have some important bookstore chain and those are the only place where I can hope to find some of the books I like. But again, I know for sure one place only in Rome that sell those for sure and refresh the books quite often. Other places got the same book for ages. And I’m serious. Not that buying books there is convenient since paperback can end up costing as much as an hardcover.
- 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 use both but Netgalley was the best for me. I had my big number of declined request but also got approved for many books I wanted. Until Netgalley changed its policy and almost all the book are on wish, which is the same time as saying “automatically declined”.
- Do you experience hurdles or barriers to access for the kinds of books that you read? Please explain if so. To be honest… not really. If I’ve to talk for many other Italian bloggers, they don’t have many barriers too. I can easily order a book or two online and get them. I can afford the price shipping or not, because of Book Depository. Is not like I can purchase ten book in a row, because we barely got sale on English books. But I can’t say I’ve a problem if I want to buy two or three books in a month. Is also true that many books in Italian are getting overpriced, and definitely less affordable for others readers (since I’m not that interested). Online sellers are my best friends.
- If you could make one change to the publishing landscape, what would you do? Oh, well… I don’t even know where to start. First of all I would start from the bloggers. Publishers won’t change unless readers start to push for other books. I met too many bloggers that, for example, are really pro diverse books, but what comes out of their mouth is definitely not… in support of marginalized group. The majority thinks they are, but I’ve witnessed a lot of cases in which reverse racism is considered a thing and once I had a really heavy and bad conversation that exposed how deep ableism and transmisia (along with general fake and distorted regard of lgbt+ people) are inside the book blogger community. Even people that are actually quite informed, aren’t the best when it comes to discuss about issue on books. Since many readers follow book blogger for when it comes to diverse books (since the majority of diverse books here in Italy are young adults), I think that a a course on social issue would be a start. Also, we barely have diverse bloggers. And if we actually have some, they tend to hide that part of themself and /or when they expose it, almost immediately there’s a big show off of internalized hate and general hot mess. Anyway, if they raise their voice enough, probably publishers would start to listen more. Publishers are mostly immobile and more focused on profit, but I noticed that the publication changes on what is more famous at the moment, so definitely the push from readers would be necessary.
- Help other international bloggers out… What resources do you use to obtain the books that you want to read? Point is… Amazon or Book Depository are my best friend for getting English books. I even tried to join Riveted but I realized that I could not register from Italy! A UK friend had to it for me. So, this might be the most unuseful suggestion ever, but I found a site that allow people to access non fictional books. It’s a big internet library that allow you to get books in various format, even really old books and for study reasons. It’s called Archive.org. It saved me a lot of times at University and right now with my research for my WIP. Doesn’t have really all the books you want, but a good number of them for sure.
- Do you have any other experiences as a reader around the world that you would like to share? Not really. I’m pretty sure I already told you everything. But a little feel that I’ve sometimes is how many bloggers (book twitter in this case) alienate a bit international readers, especially when it comes to every kind of discourse, because it tends to be really US centric. It also buffle me that, since book blogger community on Twitter is also really bonded with activism, is that even international readers tend to focus more on US problem, when there is plenty to discuss about our own country and would be interesting to see and search for more young writers ready to write about their own country issue.
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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