Reading Around the Globe: Greyson in South Australia
“I would say there’s less of a range and it can be very expensive in Australia. Especially in bookstores. There’s no way I could afford to spend $20+ on each book I buy. I would love to be able to support book stores more but I just can’t afford to. Like I said earlier, it is harder to get approval for books on Netgalley as well.”
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.
* Note: after months of crunching data, I decided to move Reading Around the Globe to a different day of the week as Saturdays are a low traffic day.
- What is your name? Greyson
- Blog URL? Use Your Words
- Twitter handle? @useyourrwords
- Where do you live? South Australia
- 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! Growing up the only time I remember people reading is when it was the current Big Book. HP, Twilight, THG. That sort of thing. But I always noticed that I read more than the average person.My mum and I are both readers, she doesn’t get to read as much as I do but she only ever reads books I recommend to her and she always enjoys them. People tend to be really shocked when either of us talk about reading, especially when my mum talks about how much I read. My mum has always supported my reading. When she found out I how many books I read in 2017, which is the most I’ve read in a year that I’m aware of, she had to tell everyone who’d listen because to her it was a big deal. She was really proud and between her support, being able to talk about books with my cousin, who is also a book worm, and finding communities online to talk about books, it’s really easy to forget that there isn’t much of a reading culture where I live.
- What kinds of books do you enjoy reading? I’m definitely a YA reader. But I’ll read anything if its catered to my exact tastes ahah. I less go for any particular genres anymore and more search for particular themes. First and foremost, I read to learn. Whether it’s to learn from reading books that represent different experiences than mine, ones that I’ll probably never experience first hand or from reading books that represent me and put words to feelings I’ve felt and to help me understand why I feel and think the way I do. I like dark books that have a lot of depth and explore very full on topics, usually surrounding abuse, trauma and healing as those are very cathartic for me. I’m also far more likely to pick up a book if it features queer characters, characters with chronic and mental illnesses and ones who battle addiction as those are things I identify with.
- Have you always been a reader? Yes. My mum always wanted to encourage my imagination and learning and so she read me books from a very young age, to the point where she would tell people I could read at 2 y.o. And then have me ‘read’ my favourite book to them. I was just reciting it from memory. I was also a kid who would throw tantrums in stores because I wanted books. Those are some of my mum’s favourite stories to tell people. But I guess you can call my relationship with books a little complicated. When my mental health is especially bad I find it difficult to read because of the type of books I read, it can be triggering and off-putting. So during the worst times in my life I wasn’t reading at all and then can span weeks to years at a time. Now I’m learning that I especially need to read during those times, and that it’s okay to read fluffy books to escape, instead of reading to learn like I normally do. But my ass is stubborn and sometimes I just keep forcing myself through a triggering book, it takes me months because it’s too much for me, and then complaining I’m not reading as much as I’d like the entire time.
- 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 only speak English so I’m privileged that my language is usually the default language for books published, especially here in Australia. I have read a few Australian books but not that many, I just struggle to find ones that cater to my tastes.
- 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? I’m really lucky when it comes to libraries as my state’s library system is fantastic and really accessible! All of our libraries are connected through a one card network. This means that you just have to sign up and get a card for one library and you’ll have access to all the libraries. ALL. OF. THEM. It’s one of the few things I love about my state. You can transfer books between libraries. You can have a book sent across the state! As long as one library in the state has the book you want, you have free access to it. The wait times can be really long for popular books though, that’s the one downside but I love that it means everyone has access to so many different books and aren’t just limited to one library’s worth. I have visited many of the libraries in the state because I like to pop in to one whenever I’m in a new area just to see what they have and how they work as they can be quite different. Some libraries are state of the art and leave me speechless, but all of our libraries are quite up to date and have self serving stations which is great for people like me with anxiety. I took my cousin, who has anxiety too, to her local library for the first time and showed how that she can go in and borrow books and never have to speak to a single person. Which I’m sure some people think is rude but for people like us can mean the difference between us not having or having access to free books. The one card network is also connected to Overdrive so I also have access to loads of ebooks which are great for someone like me with chronic pain and can’t always hold a physical book. It also means you always have free access to books that you can read while you’re anywhere with internet access! And once you add them to your shelf you don’t need internet access to read them. Last year I read 106 books, 94 of those were library books. And so many of them were books I loved from new to me authors. I don’t think I would have been able to read that many books if it wasn’t for my state’s library system.
- How prevalent are English published books where you live in bookstores? (For example, books printed by HarperCollins.) Very prevalent. It’s harder to find books in other languages.
- 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. I looked into Edelweiss but I didn’t really understand the site and so I gave up. When I first started using Netgalley I was pretty successful but then changes were made that make it even harder for those of us outside of the U.S. to be accepted for books and I don’t really get approved much anymore. Granted, I haven’t been requesting much lately as I’m catching up on ARC’s I’m behind on. I for sure have been rejected for over 50% of the books I’ve requested though.
- Do you experience hurdles or barriers to access for the kinds of books that you read? Please explain if so. Like I’ve already said, my library system is amazing and there’s not a lot of books on my TBR that I can’t get from them. Except books self-published to Kindle and a few other lesser known books.When buying books though, I would say there’s less of a range and it can be very expensive in Australia. Especially in bookstores. There’s no way I could afford to spend $20+ on each book I buy. I would love to be able to support book stores more but I just can’t afford to.
Like I said earlier, it is harder to get approval for books on Netgalley as well. I haven’t tried to reach out to publishers for physical ARCs yet as it makes me very anxious but, from what I’ve heard from other reviewers, it can be hard to be accepted for those as well.It’s just so much easier to purchase books online. They’re cheaper and online stores have a much larger catalogue. Between Book Depository and Amazon, I can get pretty much whatever book my heart desires.
- If you could make one change to the publishing landscape, what would you do? I’d love to see publishing just become more accessible for everyone in general. But on a more personal level I’d love to see books include content warnings and the representation on the cover, or at least on the title page inside the book. I think that could really help a lot of readers find books that they can identify with and help people determine if a book might not be safe for them instead. I know you said one thing, but I’d really love to see publishers sell books in a physical book + ebook package. As suggested by Tess Sharpe. Or giving a decent discount on the ebook when you purchase physical books. I love physical books but sometimes they’re too painful to read or inconvenient (like when I’m reading on the bus, it’s easier to read off my phone) so sometimes that can limit what books I can read depending on circumstances. If it was cheaper for me to have both options I would have that problem far less and it just makes reading more accessible.
- Help other international bloggers out… What resources do you use to obtain the books that you want to read? I used to rely on Book Depository for most of my books as it’s free shipping and decently priced. But I’ve also bought a lot of books from Big W and Kmart too which are department stores here in Australia. Their YA sections aren’t huge but they tend to stock a lot of popular titles and they’re a lot cheaper than book stores. I also recommend checking out your local charity/thrift stores if you’re a reader who’s strapped for cash. I’ve been lucky to find some great titles, books that have been on my TBR for years and also new releases! I like to support recycling so, although I’m not directly supporting the author, I am helping to reduce waste. Plus I write reviews for almost every book I read so hopefully my reviews do mean more people are purchasing the book and supporting the author.
- Do you have any other experiences as a reader around the world that you would like to share? This isn’t really about my experiences, but I wish the book community weren’t so harsh on people who do read pirated books. Yes we all know that you should support authors but more often than not the people having these conversations are just alienating those who do not have access to the books they’re interested in any other way. They don’t have access to libraries or their libraries don’t stock the books they enjoy and they can’t afford to purchase books themselves and they don’t get approved for ARCs. Not everyone has the same privileges and whenever the pirated books discourse pops up again it always makes me upset on behalf of the people who have no choice because they’re painted as thieves when they’re just people who want to read. Of course there are people who read pirated books who have no reason for it, there are people who can afford books just fine but don’t purchase them, they’re the ones to focus your frustrations on. I just wish people would check their privilege and acknowledge that not everyone has access to books like we do and instead maybe use that energy to find a way for these people to access books legally without making them feel like criminals. The issue isn’t as simple as people like to paint it, it’s more nuanced than just people stealing from authors. Not everyone is an entitled asshole who hoards wealth and chooses not to support authors because they don’t care. For some people it’s either pirated books or not reading at all and for me, a person reading is always the better option.
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.
Let’s go on another adventure together!