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 and catch up on previous interviews on the master post.
- What is your name? Shania (IPA: ʃæniə) but I go by Sha.
- Blog URL? https://bookprincessreviews.wordpress.com/
- Twitter handle? @_bookprincess_
- Where do you live? Quebec, Canada
- 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 see reading promoted in bookstores. There is always a special section for local authors. But I rarely see people reading in public (though it’s hard to tell if someone is listening to an audiobook) and I don’t know many people who read as a hobby. (Even though I studied as a Secondary *English* teacher in university!) I started reading in elementary school, when weekly trips to the school library where mandatory, and then I just never stopped!
- What kinds of books do you enjoy reading? I absolutely adore YA (particularly fantasy, historical fiction, and realistic fiction). I also read a lot of MG and the occasional adult novel (mostly mystery/thrillers and chicklit).
- Have you always been a reader? It feels like it! There have definitely been times when school got overwhelming and I dipped away to focus on homework, or I got really social and my books sat forgotten. But reading is the one hobby (the one PASSION) that has lived with me through thick and thin.
- 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! French is the official language in Quebec. I read maybe one or two French books a year, to keep myself fluent. Usually I pick up translations of YA books I’ve already read in English. I’m not the biggest fan of reading in French, because I lose a lot of the book’s meaning and I read so much slower. Back in high school, I did read several locally published French YA books recommended by my teachers and a lot focused on low income families and the indigenous population. They helped me learn a lot about the social issues in my region.
- 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 local libraries in each city, which you can access if you live in that area (with your citizen’s card). Upside: books are available! Downside: you are limited to what your own library has. My own library, like most, is majority French books with a much smaller English section. I can’t find much in terms of YA at my library (I think there are about 100 books there? and most are before 2015). My library sadly doesn’t have any inter-library loan system, and I can’t download e-books from other libraries.
- How prevalent are English published books where you live in bookstores? (For example, books printed by HarperCollins.) I can’t find any indie bookstores with English YA (but there are indie bookstores with English classics and adult novels). I really, really wish there were more, because 1) I want to support indie stores and 2) I hear so many great stories about indie bookstore vibes. But I can easily find what I want at Indigo, the equivalent of Barnes and Noble here in Canada. Pretty much every book I read is from Indigo, since it’s the most readily available source of English books. Other chain bookstores are French with small English sections.
- 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 and I’m still getting used to Edelweiss! I’ve requested five books from Edelweiss and gotten accepted for three. On NetGalley, I have a 50/50 chance of getting accepted (I’ve been rejected for 21 and approved for 21). I’ve gotten a rejection before because I’m in Canada, which surprised me because I didn’t realize that was a thing. It’s interesting at times to compare my acceptances and rejections with my American co-blogger, Mandy. There are other factors at play (she has blogged longer, and done more reviews) but I wonder sometimes how much my location plays into the decision-making process.
- Do you experience hurdles or barriers to access for the kinds of books that you read? Please explain if so. Definitely. I don’t have a big budget for books. I wish I could borrow more from the library, but like I explained a bit before, my library carries very little English YA or MG. I’m grateful that Indigo exists because every single book I want to read is right there, but those are full priced copies that I really can’t afford. I don’t have the option of other bookstores to price compare (unless I online shop, then I have to pay shipping) or libraries to avoid a cost completely.
- If you could make one change to the publishing landscape, what would you do?
I’m not going to ask for a book convention/festival in Quebec, because I already know this is impossible. I can see our language laws tackling the idea to the ground before it even makes it an inch past our border. But I would love for more cons and festivals for YA in the rest of Canada. I would make trips for those! Ontario isn’t too far for me. And I mean an at least medium-sized festival, with several authors and pubs (not just one, because it’s a struggle and really costly to travel far for one author in Canada, our air fair prices are not friendly.) Right now it feels like Canada is secluded from the publishing industry, when we’re literally right next to the States. It wouldn’t be so hard to come here, would it? (Says me, who struggled to go the States for a con not two months ago.)
- Help other international bloggers out… What resources do you use to obtain the books that you want to read? I request a lot of the books I want to read on NetGalley or Edelweiss. That’s usually the first place I go with my TBR. I still haven’t tried requesting a physical copy, because I know how tough that is to do in Canada *and* I’m so nervous to be rejected. One of my goals in 2019 is to get my first physical ARC! I shop a lot in thrift stores, since I can’t find any indie bookstores, and find some books there. Sometimes I borrow my friends’ library cards, so I can access libraries in other cities. (This is legal right? Trust me to break library laws.)
- Do you have any other experiences as a reader around the world that you would like to share? Giveaways. I wish wish wish I could enter giveaways. But do you know who is excluded from literally every single giveaway? Quebec. Goodreads giveaways, Instagram giveaways, Twitter giveaways. It doesn’t matter. Quebec likes to be special with its language laws and contest regulations, so it’s way too complicated to include us in anything. I can’t count how many times my heart has broken seeing a treasured book in a giveaway that I wasn’t allowed to enter. Even Indigo, which is *in Quebec* excludes Quebec from giveaways. I can’t even win books I like to read. I really hope this changes!
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.
💖 If you like the work that I do here at Reader Voracious, consider fueling my pumpkin spice latte and black tie addiction by buying me a ko-fi! ☕