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? Petrik
- Blog URL? Novel Notions
- Twitter handle?
- Where do you live? Jakarta, Indonesia
- 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 would say yes for manga but absolutely not for novels. Although in Jakarta and my surroundings, some people do read novels (mostly books that have been popularized by their TV/Movies adaptation), country-wise Indonesia literacy rate is awful. Based on this article, Indonesia ranked second last in terms of reading interest, that’s ranking 60th out of 61 countries. Bibliophile of novels are rare here, and if we’re speaking readers of the genre (adult SFF and historical fiction) I’m interested in, me and a few other readers I know are pretty much an alien. As for how I became a reader, I have been always been a reader of manga but reading novels? Honestly, I can be considered new. Sure I’ve read a few novels like Harry Potter or some other mandatory reads growing up, but my interest in reading novels sparked in September 2016 after reading Mistborn trilogy by Brandon Sanderson. The full story of how I became a reader of novels is here
- What kinds of books do you enjoy reading? Adult-oriented SFF and historical fiction are definitely my favorite genres to read.
- Have you always been a reader? I’ve always been a reader since I was a kid. But like I said in question number 5, I’m a reader of manga (still am btw) and my love for novels have only just begun in September 2016. That said, since then I’ve read almost 300 novels and as it turns out, reading novels is a passion that I never knew existed in me; I plan to continue this forever.
- 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! Unfortunately, no. Although Indonesia is my first language, I have no interest in reading books published in the language. I’ve read some parts of my favorite English novels translated into Indonesia and I honestly laughed at almost every page because it sounds so weird.
- 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? Library? What library? :p Okay seriously though, there’s only one public library in my city and extremely unreliable is an understatement. I’m speaking based on books I usually read and I can tell you that it’s practically impossible for adult SFF books to appear there.
- How prevalent are English published books where you live in bookstores? (For example, books printed by HarperCollins.) There are four main bookstores in Jakarta or Indonesia: Kinokuniya, Periplus, Books & Beyond, Gramedia. Luckily, English published books are available and prevalent within these stores. That said, Periplus bookstore aside, the English books provided in the other stores can be very costly; more or less twice the price offered on Amazon or Book Depository. Not to mention that for adult SFF books, most of the time you have to order it and wait for it to arrive, which usually takes 3-4 weeks. You can’t just go into a bookstore expecting that the newest book of your favorite series will immediately be there, it won’t. Unless of course, we’re talking about giant best-selling authors like J.K. Rowling, George R. R. Martin, and Tolkien, their newest book will definitely be there but I guess they are on a different level of selling power. To give a bit of measurement, books that are written by Patrick Rothfuss and Scott Lynch seldom appear in bookstores here, and I honestly never see Joe Abercrombie or Steven Erikson’s books here and they’re very popular in US/UK.
- 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 NetGalley to request e-ARC, my success rate has been really good honestly speaking. So far I’ve requested 25 books on Netgalley and I’ve been rejected only thrice, all rejection by the same publisher so I’ll just assume that this publisher doesn’t give out ARC to non-US/UK reader.
- Do you experience hurdles or barriers to access for the kinds of books that you read? Please explain if so. This goes back to my answer in question number 10, the kind of books I read are hard to find. This year, I purchase books almost exclusively from Book Depository for their cheap prices, this of course results in a long period of waiting time because of horrible mailing system and how far my location are from the sender. For example, I pre-ordered Bloody Rose by Nicholas Eames from last year, the publication date is on August, 2018; my PRE-ORDER arrived on October. What even is the point of pre-order then? But then if I don’t pre-order from Book Depository, I won’t be able to get this book because it’s not available everywhere else in my local stores, not even until now. Oh I should mention, all the hurdles or barriers I have talked about until now is strictly for physical books, ebooks are different. As long that they have the ebooks on Amazon (must change location on setting first), Google Play store, or ibooks, we have access to them.
- If you could make one change to the publishing landscape, what would you do? Please give more chances of reviewing ARC to international bloggers. I’ve seen and heard from plenty of highly influential international bloggers who had their ARC request rejected or totally ignored only because they don’t live in US/UK. I totally understand that sending out physical ARCs outside of US/UK can be expensive and inefficient, but there should be no problem in sending out eARCs. I don’t mean to attack any small blogger here, I’m talking about the purpose of ARC in general. The purpose of ARCs is to make sure the book receives buzz, hype, and honest reviews so that the targeted reader will know about the specific book and hopefully, pre-order it. With this, the more influential (usually with high follower count) the reviewer is, the better. I’ve seen publishers send out physical ARC to blogger with lower than 50 followers just because they live in US/UK, that’s good for them really and I’m happy for them. But then, the same publishers decline or ignore sending out E-ARC (which is free and instant btw) to international bloggers who have thousands of followers just because they don’t live in US/UK. Where is the fairness and effectiveness in that kind of marketing? There’s also an argument that stated they’re afraid of international readers reselling the physical ARC they received. I have no idea where this argument came from, maybe it’s just a false rumor but this argument doesn’t even make sense. Not only most international readers treat the physical ARC they receive like golden dragon’s egg, if you go to eBay and search ‘Advanced Reading Copy’, I wish you good luck trying to find an ARC reseller that’s not from the United States. So yeah, if there’s one change to the publishing landscape that I would apply, it is to give international blogger more chances of reviewing an ARC. It’s okay if it’s just an eARC, I’m sure a lot of international bloggers (me included) will be super happy just to be given the honor, trust, and opportunity to review an ARC.
- Help other international bloggers out… What resources do you use to obtain the books that you want to read? Book Depository (Cheap prices and free shipping almost worldwide) and Better Worlds Books (for used books, free shipping as well).
- Do you have any other experiences as a reader around the world that you would like to share? Other than the one I mentioned above regarding ARC, please stop saying the library is the solution to everything. Newsflash, US/UK aren’t the only country that exists in this world and a lot of countries doesn’t have libraries with high accessibility for books like you guys have. A friend of mine once asked an honest innocent question “do you guys know where we can buy books cheaper? I’m really low on cash right now.” Only to be replied with “Have you ever heard of the library?” Please, stop being ignorant and be more considerate. There are millions of readers outside of US/UK and they simply don’t have the same privilege as US/UK reader. Think about it logically, do you honestly think that a voracious reader won’t know or use libraries to borrow and read books? It’s not that they don’t want to, it’s because they don’t have access to a library that can give them the books they’re looking for. Thank you, Kaleena for having me and doing this!
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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