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 and catch up on previous interviews on the master post.
- What is your name? Elisa
- Blog URL? At the moment I only do micro-blogging through Instagram, at @BookishExpat
- Twitter handle? @bookishexpat
- Where do you live? Zurich, Switzerland
- 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! Well, I am not originally from here, but having lived here for several years, I think there is a culture of reading. I see people reading on the train and at the pool, and books are fairly easy to come by, so there must be demand.
- What kinds of books do you enjoy reading? My taste has changed somewhat through the years, but at the moment I read mostly fantasy (a mix of high and low), some science fiction, and some historical fiction; plus some non-fiction when I’m interested in a specific subject.
- Have you always been a reader? Yes, definitely. Even before I could actually read, I always loved books!
- 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! My mother tongue is Italian, and for the most part I don’t really read books in Italian, unless that’s all I have available (this used to happen sometimes before I owned a Kindle, when I went to visit my parents in Italy). In Italian, the written register is different from the spoken one and I don’t love it. I do read magazines in Italian while on vacation in Italy.
- 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, there are libraries in every town, even small ones. Zurich has several ones. However, there aren’t many new releases in English available at public libraries; there are more at other, private libraries.
- How prevalent are English published books where you live in bookstores? (For example, books printed by HarperCollins.) Quite prevalent, for a non-English-speaking country. Most libraries have at least a small English section, and in Zurich we have an English bookshop, and many other bookshops have a small English section.
- 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 don’t. I have found that I don’t enjoy unfinished copies; that might be because I used to work in the publishing industry and I switch into proofreader/editor mode! It pulls me out of the story. I do better with physical ARCs.
- Do you experience hurdles or barriers to access for the kinds of books that you read? Please explain if so. Well, yeah. as much as I love the local English bookshop, they don’t always have the edition I want, and hardcovers are a little too pricey for my budget, because I get through books so fast and I have to find a way to make it work. So I do a lot of swapping, some online ordering, some I catch on Kindle when the price goes down, and some I do get at the local bookstore, because I believe in supporting local businesses and I do appreciate that they take such good care to have as many new releases as possible!
- If you could make one change to the publishing landscape, what would you do? I would really like if publishers could avoid changing cover style mid-series. Also, I would make posters of book covers a lot more common and easy to find!
- Help other international bloggers out… What resources do you use to obtain the books that you want to read? I have a few tips:
1. Take up swapping, either online or in real life. I have been organizing a monthly book swap meet-up for many years and not only have i saved money and space, I have also met lovely bookish friends because of it!
There are also swapping sites in a lot of countries.
2. Consider using a Kindle or Kindle app. The Kindle can allow you to buy recent releases at very low prices, and carry hundreds of books with you at all times. I scored both Illuminae and Gemina for 1.99 on Kindle, as well as a ton of other popular books!
3. Check out Overdrive, it might work for your library or other libraries in your country!
4. Check out Scribd. It allows you unlimited e-books and audiobooks for under 10 bucks a month, and you can try it free for two months here (Elisa’s affiliate link). I did that, and enjoyed it for two full months free before being charged membership; but honestly I had decided after 2 weeks that I’d subscribe! On Audible I would have spend hundreds of dollars listening to the audiobooks I have enjoyed for free in the first month!
- Do you have any other experiences as a reader around the world that you would like to share?When I have luggage limits, I like to travel just with my kindle and iPad, fully loaded (with books!); as well as with my old iPhone, on which I download some audiobooks from scribd so I don’t have to wait till I have wifi.
If I go on a road trip or when I’m just out and about, I love book sleeves to protect my books! I get mine from MelvisMakes, on Etsy.
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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