Reading Around the Globe: Marta in Portugal
“There are libraries, but they have very limited resources. In my faculty library, I might find classics, books for required reading, and highly popular books. Same for my local library, except it’s WAY smaller.”
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? Hello everyone, I’m Marta!
- Blog URL? The Book Mermaid
- Twitter handle? @thebookmermaid
- Where do you live? I’m from Portugal and I live in Porto, a city in the north of the country.
- 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 think people in my country usually associate being a reader to being a really smart and dedicated student. Growing up, that was the stereotype applied to me. I didn’t have anyone in my family that actively supported my reading habits and later became an avid reader because of the only reader friend I had.
- What kinds of books do you enjoy reading? There was a time when I was really into historical fiction and non-fiction books but for the past years, YA Contemporary and Fantasy are the genres I read the most.
- Have you always been a reader? Like I’ve mentioned before, I didn’t have anyone close to me that supported my reading habits, and therefore, I haven’t always been an avid reader. However, I think I’ve always enjoyed reading, from the moment I’ve learnt how to. My class in primary school would go to the school library every two weeks to check out books and I’d always be excited for that. I started to read more in 5th grade, because of a friend. And started to develop my reading habits a bit later, when I was in 8th/9th grade.
- 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! Only some. Lots of Portuguese writers want to get published, but national publishers make it a lot difficult for them to do so (I have posted a series of interviews, if anyone might be interested). There’s only one when it’s easy to get published, and they charge writers. Most of what I read that’s been published locally is Fantasy/Sci-Fi.
- 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 libraries, but they have very limited resources. In my faculty library, I might find classics, books for required reading, and highly popular books. Same for my local library, except it’s WAY smaller. For example, my local library doesn’t have all the books in the Percy Jackson series. Besides, they rely on donations and therefore, can’t keep up with requests at all.
- How prevalent are English published books where you live in bookstores? (For example, books printed by HarperCollins.) There are two big bookstore chains here in Portugal: FNAC and Bertrand, and you can find a collection of books in English, although small. Again, it’s mostly big author names, classics, and popular books.
- 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’ve used both NetGalley and Edelweiss before and to be honest, my success rate, at first, used to be higher, but when I started to get more selective about the books I TRULY wanted read, it decreased a lot. I’ve never been accepted to read anything in Edelweiss.
- Do you experience hurdles or barriers to access for the kinds of books that you read? Please explain if so. Unfortunately, yes. It used to be way worse, because now at least my parents are okay with me ordering books online, and I can access most books I wanna read through BookDepository. But I’m a full-time college student and have no income of my own. Therefore, I can only get books on certain occasions, such as my birthday.
- If you could make one change to the publishing landscape, what would you do? Internationally, I’d make Giveaways accessible to everyone! It sucks to read US only when we all love the same books! Nationally, I’d request a larger budget for libraries to order books and I’d stop with that nonsense of charging authors to publish their work.
- Help other international bloggers out… What resources do you use to obtain the books that you want to read? I don’t think I’m gonna be very helpful, but I mostly use BookDepository and AwesomeBooks. Also, maybe try checking out book fairs/second-hand stores in your city? Might find a surprise!
- Do you have any other experiences as a reader around the world that you would like to share? Yes! It was only recently, a couple years ago maybe, that I’ve noticed that, because our Portuguese Reading Community was so small, Portuguese publishers would send books in exchange for reviews to pretty much everyone who would ask. Now, the most popular publishers are already limiting their contact list. Meaning that we’ll likely lose all opportunities, since we won’t have neither international or national ones.
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!