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? You can call me Para. Hi!
- Blog URL? https://otherworldsreviews.wordpress.com
- Twitter handle? @paracactus
- Where do you live? I’m from Slovenia.
- 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! When you’re a kid, yes – there’s a reading badge challenge in schools to get kids into reading (read a certain number of books from a list and get an award, though in my school at the time they weren’t badges, and I remember being frustrated with the lists too), I remember something similar focused on parents reading kids book in kindergarten as well, though less…official. But I think that when people grow up, many stop reading altogether – I’m a student and I don’t know many people my age or older who read much, if at all.
- What kinds of books do you enjoy reading? I’m mostly into fantasy, mostly adult (I do read YA, just way less) though I also enjoy the occasional sci-fi or historical nonfiction book.
- Have you always been a reader? More or less, yes. I have never been reading as much as now, but I have 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! I don’t anymore. Translation of SFF is years behind – Dune has been translated in November 2018! – and often subpar (I could go on about one translator in particular…), there aren’t many adult SFF books written, and those few I tried have been pretty bad. I might read a nonfiction book in my language though.
- 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, but they’re mostly useless to me, since I prefer SFF and they don’t have large foreign language sections (as for translations and originally Slovenian books…see above). In kids’ sections, genres are also mixed together, which used to frustrate me so much when I was younger. For nonfiction, I might have some luck in my university’s library, but I don’t read that much of it. Interlibrary loan also costs about 8€ (for comparison, I can order a new paperback for about 10€), so even if I could get books I want that way, it’s completely pointless. Ebook lending – no Overdrive access anywhere (probably never getting it…), only a local lending service with an extremely limited selection of translations. I’m lucky that I’m currently in a position where I can afford to buy the books I read.
- How prevalent are English published books where you live in bookstores? (For example, books printed by HarperCollins.) There’s a section with foreign books in almost every bookstore – it might not be a big one or an useful one, but it’s there. Though I haven’t had much luck with it lately even in the biggest bookstore, since they mostly stock popular stuff that I have either read or heard of and decided it’s not for me.
- 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 have had some luck there…but I also got some potentially bad advice about it when I started. It took me much longer to set up Edelweiss because it’s so confusing. I haven’t tried requesting anything at the time of writing, but I have read and reviewed one ARC that was open for anyone to download.
- Do you experience hurdles or barriers to access for the kinds of books that you read? Please explain if so. Some, yeah. I’ve explained the library issues above, but kindle sales often don’t work either – especially recently, the amount has gone done to basically nothing. I’ve also been region-locked out of some ebooks completely in the past, though thankfully that seems to be rare. Any physical books I want, I have to order (shipping is 1-2 weeks), and there’s only bookdepository left – I used to use Amazon Marketplace on the UK site a lot too, but in the past two years, the shipping prices have gone up so much that it’s no longer an affordable option. It could be worse, but it could be a lot better too.
- If you could make one change to the publishing landscape, what would you do?
Make ebooks and eARCs more available for people in non-Anglo regions and do away with regional restrictions for them in general. The whole thing with foreign rights is a mess and only hurts the international readers. It often feels like we’re an unimportant afterthought.
- Help other international bloggers out… What resources do you use to obtain the books that you want to read? Bookdepository has been a godsend for physical books, and if an ebook isn’t on sale on the kindle store, it might be on kobo. Not always, but often enough that it’s worth checking.
- Do you have any other experiences as a reader around the world that you would like to share? I get really frustrated at how America-centric conversations are, and how rarely people remember we exist and don’t necessarily have the same privileges they do. Both publishers and readers. One thing that especially makes me want to scream is “just go to your local library!” and how often it’s used as a dismissive cure-all in any discussions about piracy, high ebook prices compared to print, or as a reply to those asking where they can get affordable books in their preferred genre. Sometimes it just isn’t an option. And any alternative advice they offer is pretty much always exclusive to America and completely useless as well.
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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