Reading Around the Globe: Marta in Portugal

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“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.

  1. What is your name? Hello everyone, I’m Marta!
  2. Blog URL? The Book Mermaid
  3. Twitter handle? @thebookmermaid
  4. Where do you live? I’m from Portugal and I live in Porto, a city in the north of the country.
  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! 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  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! 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.
  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? 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.
  10. 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.
  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? 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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!
  15. 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.


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spacer_wLet’s go on another adventure together!

14 Comments

  1. Shelleyrae @ Book’d Out

    October 27, 2019 at 6:02 AM

    No funded libraries and a user pays publishing model is unusual and probably doesn’t create a satisfactory climate for writers or readers. Thanks for sharing your experience

    1. Marta

      November 1, 2019 at 3:48 AM

      I don’t really know how libraries are given their budget, but it’s really disheartening to want to read and not being able to. Every time I go to my local library I see teenagers/young adults studying and working on their laptops and kids playing on the computers. I don’t see people often requesting and reading books! ):
      Thanks so much for reading ^^

  2. Mere

    October 27, 2019 at 6:32 AM

    What a great interview!
    I know I say it every time, but it is amazing to me how lucky I am to be in the States. It’s also interesting to see how cultures are the same and how they vary in their views on reading and what they link reading with!

    1. Marta

      November 1, 2019 at 3:51 AM

      I completely agree with you, it’s really interesting to know everyone’s experiences with reading! Even though our resources are very limited here, I consider myself very lucky to have them at all. But I’d LOVE to live in the US, being able to access books and libraries more easily and book events!!
      Thanks for reading 😀

    2. Kal

      November 6, 2019 at 2:18 PM

      I know what you mean, I definitely used to take everything for granted until I started listening to what it is like for other people. Thanks for your comment!

  3. Haley

    October 28, 2019 at 12:06 PM

    I wish there was a way to put a cap on shipping prices, I feel like most giveaways would be international if it didn’t cost such absurd money to mail books to some places. For example, I can send books from where I live in the UK to the US for only like 5.00, but, my sister mailed me a book from the US to the UK and it cost 30.00….whyyy. Maybe Edelweiss just is like some random luck of the draw…I’ve been accepted for maybe 2 things ever lol

    1. Marta

      November 1, 2019 at 3:54 AM

      Yeah, I don’t even understand how it can cost so much to send things from the US to everyone else!! I’m always surprised when I see actual numbers because the difference is astonishing!
      I think I’ve read somewhere that Edelweiss isn’t the most appropriate platform for readers and that’s maybe why we don’t get often accepted there :/
      Thanks so much for reading <3

      1. Kal

        November 6, 2019 at 3:20 PM

        I’ve heard that EW is primarily for booksellers and librarians, but I do know a lot of international readers who have good luck requesting on it so you should give it a try!

    2. Kal

      November 6, 2019 at 2:35 PM

      DUDE THIS SO MUCH??? Why the fuck does it cost $25 to send a 1lb bubble mailer with a book from the US… regardless of its destination?

  4. Laurie

    October 28, 2019 at 11:13 PM

    Oh wow, how can there be such a significant difference between European countries in access to libraries and books in general? Interesting interview!

    1. Marta

      November 1, 2019 at 3:56 AM

      That’s an interesting question! Perhaps it’s related to the budget given to libraries?? My local library probably has a very low budget, since they haven’t updated their catalogue in a very long time and all the books I’ve brought home with me said they were donated to the library …
      Thanks for reading! 🙂

    2. Kal

      November 6, 2019 at 2:39 PM

      Showing that there is a huge disparity in terms of access is the point of this series; I don’t think people realize that just because they have a thing where they live doesn’t mean it is a thing everywhere. Glad you found this post enlightening!

  5. Marta

    November 1, 2019 at 3:58 AM

    Thank you so much for sharing my experience and for the wonderful work you’re doing with these interviews!! <3

    1. Kal

      November 6, 2019 at 3:21 PM

      Thank YOU so much for taking the time to share your experience!

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