Reading Around the Globe: Taasia in Singapore

“The government has established an absolutely fantastic national library system. There are so many libraries around Singapore, and every little detail is made easy and convenient. Their backlist titles are very impressive, but new releases take quite a few months to arrive, and sometimes they don’t come at all.”

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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.

The Interview

  1. What is your name? Taasia
  2. Blog URL? libraepaintspages.wordpress.com
  3. Twitter handle? @libraepaintspages
  4. Where do you live? I live in Singapore, but I’m Malaysian-Chinese.
  5. 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! There’s not really a culture of reading in where I live, though the government tries to encourage it. My parents actually got me into reading, actually – it started before I was born. And when I started to actually read at the age of 3, something just clicked, and I’ve been an avid reader since. My old school was also really great with supporting me as a reader, and that really helped too.
  6. What kinds of books do you enjoy reading? I mostly read (fluffy and hard-hitting) contemporary, but I do read the occasional fantasy, historical fiction and sci-fi, 98% of which is YA, since I’m a teen reader myself. I can and do read adult fiction and (the occasional middle grade).
  7. Have you always been a reader? Yes, pretty much, and I’m glad it’s that way.
  8. 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 was raised on international schools my whole life, so English is my first language, so I read English books.
  9. 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? In Singapore, the government has established an absolutely fantastic national library system. There are so many libraries around Singapore, and every little detail is made easy and convenient. Their backlist titles are very impressive, but new releases take quite a few months to arrive, and sometimes they don’t come at all.
  10. How prevalent are English published books where you live in bookstores? (For example, books printed by HarperCollins.) In the bigger, branded bookstores such as Kinokuniya, English books are extremely easy to find.
  11. 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? Having set up my blog in March of 2018, I don’t use NetGalley or Edelweiss to request e-galleys, and will probably only begin my Edelweiss account at the beginning of 2019, as NetGalley is not great for international bloggers. I’m focusing on consistency on my blog before requesting arcs of any kind for now.
  12. Do you experience hurdles or barriers to access for the kinds of books that you read? Please explain if so. Definitely. Though Singapore has a really great range of books, especially amongst Asian countries, we still have limits on books that we have access too. A lot of people resort to using ePub websites to be able to get the books that they want to read, since books are really expensive in bookstores. Websites such as Amazon is not a great option as shipping rates are an absolute nightmare. Though Book Depository is our saving grace, books that we want can take at least 2 weeks to arrive and the communication between Book Depository and the customer isn’t great. (I’ve had personal experience).
  13. If you could make one change to the publishing landscape, what would you do? Focus more on the international bookish community for sure. It’s a huge market, and it can extend to so many people around the world. I would focus on giving more opportunities to international bloggers, bookstagramers, booktubers and everyone in the community.
  14. Help other international bloggers out… What resources do you use to obtain the books that you want to read? When I buy books (around once every 3 months) I use generally Singapore resources (for example, Open Trolley and Kinokuniya – hi, Singapore readers!). Internationally, I’ve used Book Depository once, but the results were mixed. They do have fantastic prices and free international shipping, though.
  15. Do you have any other experiences as a reader around the world that you would like to share? I would just wish that people in the bookish community hailing from places with immense privilege, such as the US, Canada, Australia and the UK have more empathy for international readers and the lack of resources they have, especially for authors. I understand how they feel regarding piracy, but readers really do have no choice since some places have either little to no libraries and a lack of availability for books such as new releases, LGBTQIA+ literature and have to face censorship.

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! ☕

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17 Comments

  1. Eustacia | Eustea Reads

    June 29, 2019 at 4:11 PM

    Yay Singapore! I LOVE the library system here, especially the ebooks we have available – that was the reason why I didn’t bankrupt myself buying English books in Japan 😂

    1. Kal

      July 6, 2019 at 11:15 AM

      The library system honestly sounds incredible, you are really fortunate!!!

  2. shelleyrae @ Book'd Out

    June 29, 2019 at 9:42 PM

    Thanks for sharing your perspective.

    1. Kal

      July 6, 2019 at 11:18 AM

      Thanks for reading the interview!

  3. Caitlin @ Caitlin Althea

    June 30, 2019 at 3:47 AM

    omg i’m so jealous of Singapore’s library system. the idea of a library sounds so great, but sadly, I don’t live anywhere near one in the Philippines, and if I did, it probably wouldn’t be well-stocked. also, hi, I’m Taasia’s biggest fan over here!

    1. Kal

      July 6, 2019 at 11:19 AM

      I am so sorry you don’t have access to a library where you live, Caitlin!

  4. Izzy

    June 30, 2019 at 7:43 AM

    I love this series! It’s so enriching to see the reality of a reader in places that are not North America or the UK. Do you think you could publish a few of these featuring more South American readers?

    1. Kal

      July 6, 2019 at 11:27 AM

      Thank you so much for reading, and I would be happy to should more people from South America contact me for an interview!

  5. TheCaffeinatedReader

    June 30, 2019 at 12:04 PM

    Your library system sounds fantastic in Singapore, I hope that eventually book costs in general go do for international readers and that would also help libraries to get more titles, the prices can be so mind boggling for even e-books for libraries, it’s a bit of a shame. Darn publishers. It was so intriguing to read about your reading experience! [Thanks for another lovely RAtG post, Kal]

    1. Kal

      July 6, 2019 at 11:41 AM

      I wonder if libraries get any special pricing from publishers for the books they purchase? And if the system the UK has for royalties based on checkouts could be more widely implemented? Like how Kindle Unlimited authors get paid based on pages read (which isn’t a perfect system).

      1. TheCaffeinatedReader

        July 6, 2019 at 11:57 AM

        Hmm I know my local one in Texas didn’t get special pricing for ebooks, but that’s a good question about the UK..I need to look into it and find out, ask some questions, get some answers

        1. Kal

          July 6, 2019 at 1:10 PM

          INVESTIGATOR HALEY IS ON THE CASE 🔍

  6. Scrill

    July 1, 2019 at 9:03 AM

    I love these posts so much!

    1. Kal

      July 6, 2019 at 11:48 AM

      Aww, YAY happy to hear it!

  7. Isabelle @ BookwyrmBites

    July 1, 2019 at 11:09 AM

    international shipping sounds like a huge struggle; though you have an awesome national library system (and tbqh I’m jealous that your government prioritizes literacy, that’s awesome) inequality of access and availability of diverse and/or new releases are clearly still a problem – thank you for speaking to the reality, Taasia! 💕

    1. Kal

      July 6, 2019 at 11:51 AM

      I agree that it’s wonderful that the government prioritizes literacy, and the library system in Singapore sounds incredible!

  8. Kelly | Another Book in the Wall

    July 14, 2019 at 12:14 PM

    I’m really glad you have a great national library system in Singapore, Taasia! I’m very fortunate to have nice libraries by me in the States, and they are a life saver! I really wish the publishing industry paid more attention to international book bloggers, and reached out to them more when trying to promote certain titles. <3

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