Reading Around the Globe: Michelle in the Netherlands
” With the German Amazon and Book Depository there are almost no barriers. This doesn’t apply to things like pre-order incentives or exclusive editions though. My country is excluded from those, pretty much always.”
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? Michelle
- Blog URL? Michelle Likes Things
- Twitter handle? @michelle__reads
- Where do you live? The Netherlands
- 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 definitely think there is a culture of reading. I worked in a well known bookstore chain for over four years, until ‘my’ store closed due to rent issues. I loved working there, it was always busy and people were genuinely looking for books. We also have libraries in the bigger cities, though I’m not sure how many people still have library cards. It became too expensive for me when I was a student and I got a discount when working in the bookstore anyway. I think almost every big university has their own library, thought those are only accessible to students of said university.
- What kinds of books do you enjoy reading? I read a mixture of genres. Right now most of my reading is focused on Sci-Fi and Fantasy, though there are some Contemporaries in there. I really love Graphic Novels too! I’ve been buying and reading more and more lately and I absolutely love them.
- Have you always been a reader? Oh yes, I grew up in a boarding school and I was kind of a loner. You were almost pushed towards the children your age, but those never really interested me. So I read. First it was just Donald Ducks and other magazines (maybe my love of Graphic Novels originated there?), later I was old enough to borrow library books and I took advantage of that.
- 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! Not anymore.. There are maybe two authors that I enjoy, but most of the books I’d read in my native language would be books I can also read in English. Ever since I joined Tumblr and I started college, my life became English. Everything I do is in English. My phone, laptop.. It’s just easier. In my country, translating the first book of a series does not mean the rest of the series gets translated as well. It’s all about how good it sells, and I understand that.. People need to make money. I just don’t want to be disappointed. And since I blog in English, it doesn’t make sense to read in another language, unless you can find certain quotes online. Translating text never works well and I hang with other English bloggers – translating in Dutch and making other people translate it seems.. selfish. Wow, I got off topic there, back to the question. As I said, most of the books sold here are translated from English, and the top 10 is definitely the same as in other countries (I assume). For instance, when the 50 Shades series was popular everywhere else, it was here too (I had to read it when I was working in the bookstore, because I needed to tell the customers about the series and I hated it. I’ve never read such dumb books).
- 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 is a library in a big city close to where I live. As I said, I don’t lend books from there. It’s pretty expensive and I buy most books anyway. But, I want to be clear, I buy my books because I can. I understand not everyone else can, so please go to the library if you enjoy it! From what I remember.. The books in the library were pretty dated. Popular series were available sometimes, but the library didn’t really order the books I wanted to read if I requested them.
- How prevalent are English published books where you live in bookstores? (For example, books printed by HarperCollins.) It really depends on the bookstore. While there is one big chain, most of the actual stores are franchises. They can decide whether they want to order English books. There are stores with no English books at all, and some have two displays full of English 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 do! Even though Kal has these amazing guides on Edelweiss (feel free to link them here and here Kal 😉 ), I haven’t really had time to search through the books on the website. NetGalley works so much better for me, I receive almost all of the books I get. I’ve even gotten some books I’ve wished for! Maybe that’s why I don’t use Edelweiss that much.
- Do you experience hurdles or barriers to access for the kinds of books that you read? Please explain if so. With the German Amazon and Book Depository there are almost no barriers. This doesn’t apply to things like pre-order incentives or exclusive editions though. My country is excluded from those, pretty much always. And Barnes and Noble doesn’t ship to the Netherlands anymore (well not officially, there is a way to have them sent to the Netherlands wooo).
- If you could make one change to the publishing landscape, what would you do? This is a tough question, because I would change so many things. But the most important one would be to have publishers listen to readers when it comes to marginalized groups. There are so many books that are being published that contain words/phrases/events/characters that are so hurtful to so many people. And it seems like there needs to be an enormous outcry before something is done about it. And most of the time readers get angry at the author while there is a publisher behind the author as well. One (or sometimes a team of people) that determines whether a story needs tweaking or not. They are just as responsible for the content they bring into the world.
- Help other international bloggers out… What resources do you use to obtain the books that you want to read? I order my books through Amazon or Book Depository, but I always compare prices. Sometimes Amazon is cheaper, sometimes Book Depository is cheaper. For ARCs, I don’t have access to physical ARCs, but I read a lot of eARCs, and you don’t have to have a huge following to qualify for ARCs. You can review them on GoodReads and other websites. It’s truly amazing! And if you do want physical ARCs, take a look at Flapping Pages! It’s an amazing program and Kal is really doing amazing work with it <3
- Do you have any other experiences as a reader around the world that you would like to share? Don’t get discouraged. It’s hard living in a country that’s not included in most book-related activities. You might not get author events, you might not get conventions. You might have to work hard to get the exact same chances as a UK or US blogger gets. But please don’t get discouraged. There are so many things you can still do. Focus on those things and improve yourself, your blog or bookstagram or reading experience. But most importantly, make sure you still love reading, whatever happens.
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!