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? My name is Marco. I’m 24 years old and studying to become an English Teacher in secondary/high schools.
- Blog URL? My blog can be found over on barelyablogger.wordpress.com. Here I mainly blog about the books I want and post my book reviews.
- Twitter handle? @barelyablogger and on Facebook, I can be found at https://www.facebook.com/barelyablogger
- Where do you live? I live in a city called Leeuwarden which can be found in the topmost province (Friesland) in the Netherlands. Before that, I lived in a little village about 20km more up north, but I moved out about 10 months ago. Quite the remote location if I do say so myself.
- 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! From what I can tell, there isn’t really a reading vibe in the city overall. We have about 2 bookstores which focus mainly on the very young or the elderly from what I have experienced. They also don’t really keep up with newer releases, unfortunately. Overall, reading does get stimulated in primary school/elementary. We tend to start learning our own names quite young here and letter recognition plays a big part in the earlier school years. We do reading tests to check our level from the age of 8 to about 12/13, but around secondary school, most kids tend to stop reading and just play games. It does differ from household to household as some parents do value it more than others. We do have mandatory book reports, but those might just be the reason most teenagers here don’t pick up a book voluntarily anymore.
- What kinds of books do you enjoy reading? Comics & Graphic Novels, Horror, LGBTQIA, Mystery & Thrillers, Sci-Fi & Fantasy, Teens & YA. These are my favourite genres to read. Lately, I have stopped ignoring the others genres and dabble from time to time based on the recommendations from my friends or fellow bloggers. I am a sucker for a good plot twist and somehow keep picking the books where the protagonists parents are dead or dying…. It’s a talent.
- Have you always been a reader? Looking back, I definitely have always been a reader. My current collection can be a testament to that: 374 books and counting. We used to go to the library every week to take out at least 2 or 3 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! I used to read a lot in Dutch, but that switched over to English I think around when I was 11 or 12. I decided that I wanted to read a book, but that one hadn’t been translated to Dutch yet and I just couldn’t wait any longer. My teacher at the time told me it would be a challenge, but support goes a long way. Anne Frank’s diary is a major book that originated here in the Netherlands.
Miffy by Dick Bruna was created here as well. The books I mostly encountered growing up were books about World War 2 and the adventures kids would have during that time period. I was a bit obsessed with the second world war though. Everything was so fascinating to me. The main series I devoured as a kid was about two boys and their boat who went on adventures around their village. Which even has their own little theme park around it new. Seeing their boat, doing an obstacle course and tends to be used as a school trip quite often.
- 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. Luckily libraries are a common thing here in the Netherlands. We can find books of all genres here including some English ones in a smaller section. I haven’t been to one in years though, mainly because the moment you turn 18 you have to pay for a membership and as a college student, I just can’t afford that on top of my other bills. The positive thing is that most libraries can get a book on demand. Sure you might have to wait a few days/a week but most books can be hunted down with the proper ISBN number.
- How prevalent are English published books where you live in bookstores? (For example, books printed by HarperCollins.) I’d say the chance is about 35/65 of not being able to find your book in the bookstore in Leeuwarden. Simply because the demand isn’t high enough, I think. Other cities have specialised bookstores such as Waterstones in Amsterdam, but overall the English literature section tends to be disappointingly small.
- 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 have used NetGalley yes and overall my 85% of the Arcs I request go through. Others mainly get rejected because my blog is to small for the publisher or they don’t want to give it to me because I am not the intended demographic (No longer a young adult) despite the fact that it clearly states on my profile that I am an educator and have to use literature in my classes. Edelweiss is totally unknown to me but I am going to have a look now that I know about them.
- Do you experience hurdles or barriers to access for the kinds of books that you read? Please explain if so. This used to happen a lot more often. Most stores simply don’t have the book available on release. With the rise of Amazon and Bookdepository; however, I no longer have to wait over 6 months or ask my local store to order it for me. Sure, wait times for Amazon from the UK or US can be long and I have to take customs into account when ordering, but this tends to be a more accessible way for me personally.
- If you could make one change to the publishing landscape, what would you do?
In all honesty, I’d love to be able to get paid in return for my reviewing services. Or even just have publisher pick smaller retailers in other locations than the US/AUS/UK. If they had a contact in 1 chain of bookstores per country, that would solve so many problems most of us face.
- Help other international bloggers out… What resources do you use to obtain the books that you want to read? My main resources are:
– Bookdepository (Due to the free shipping worldwide)– Amazon (pre-orders and if Bookdepository doesn’t have my book yet.)
– My friends (some of them read in English too.)
– Goodreads (to keep track of my TBR and ones I have read in numbers.)– In the Netherlands, www.bol.com has next day delivery which is very handy. They don’t always have the book you’re looking for though.– Reaching out to authors and publishers can be scary but if you keep trying and ultimately get a breakthrough it will be worth it.
– State on your blog if you are open for Arcs or not. This helps viewers and researchers. Mine’s currently closed due to my massive backlog of books and due to my study.
- Do you have any other experiences as a reader around the world that you would like to share? Read what you want to read and stop feeling guilty over it. We all love what we love and there is nothing wrong with reading genres that aren’t your typical societal okay.If you don’t manage to finish a book so be it. You learned more about your tastes or reading style and that can help you in the future. And if like me, visuals tend to attract you first when looking at books, do judge by the cover. Gut feeling hasn’t steered me wrong yet.
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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