Welcome back to Part II of our third The Pond Gets Loud collaboration series, friends!
The Pond Gets Loud is a feature where I invite book reviewers from the community to share their experiences and talk about anything related to book blogging. The overall goal of The Pond Gets Loud is to give book bloggers a voice, give book bloggers the opportunity to share their honest experiences, and promote transparency and awareness within the book blogging community.
Today is the second part of current collaboration series, where we are exploring ‘The Experiences of Being an International Book Blogger‘. As an international book blogger myself, this is a topic that means a lot to me and also to a lot of other international book bloggers. I hope that as a member of the book blogging community – or simply someone who is curious about the varied and diverse experiences of book blogging – this collab post will be insightful, eye-opening, and thought-provoking.
This collaboration series arose from my desire to help book bloggers outside of the United Kingdom, United States, and Australia understand the challenges that international book bloggers face. When I invited book bloggers in my last series, The Cost of Book Blogging (you can read Part I, Part II, Part III and the summary and analysis of the series as a whole), to talk about how much they spend on books and book blogging, it stirred up a lot of discussion of what ‘cost’ meant and how much these costs matter.
What was clear to me was that a lot of people do not understand – or simply just don’t know – how vastly different book blogging is experienced. In particular, there was significant lack of understanding of how book blogging differs across countries, the different barriers that international book bloggers experience, and how accessibility to books can differ.
Therefore, to give people the opportunity to learn and read about different experiences, I invited eight amazing international book bloggers to share their experiences with all of us.
What I hope you will takeaway from this series
- Promote greater empathy and understanding of different book blogging experiences. Book blogging is a fun hobby that we all do for fun, but the ‘how’ of book blogging differs from country to country. This collaboration post aims to be transparent and candid about book blogging by international bloggers to promote greater understanding and empathy.
- International book bloggers have greater limitations and barriers than US/UK/Australian book bloggers. As you will see in the responses that we’ll be sharing today and the next two weeks, international book bloggers have to jump through more hoops, spend more money, and have less access to books, just to do what they love to do like any US/UK/Australian book blogger.
- There are differential privileges within book blogging – and international book bloggers just want you to acknowledge that. International book bloggers don’t want you to take drastic action. At the end of the day, all book bloggers love what they do and book blogging is a hobby we all enjoy. Most international book bloggers just want you to acknowledge and consider your own privilege.
Today, I am pleased to share with you eight more responses that I received from book bloggers! I hope you all enjoy reading their interesting and insightful responses.
Jolien, Book Blogger at The Fictional Reader [Belgium]
I’m Jolien, she/her, and I’m a book blogger from Belgian.
As an international blogger, it always baffles me how unaware US/UK bloggers can be when it comes to the privileges of blogging. As a Belgian reader, I am privileged in many ways. I have easy access to a library, even though it doesn’t have many English novels. There are tons of bookstores here, even though they are expensive and once again don’t have many English novels.
It saddens me every time when I see bloggers discuss ways to save money on reading and have them only feature ways that aren’t accessible to me. Libby? Doesn’t work here. Other library apps? Not in Belgium. Go to the library for new releases? Nope. Get manga from the library? Not possible. In many ways, these options to save money on reading are closed off to me. Buy cheap books? Book Outlet or similar sites are simply impossible for international readers.
The only way to save money here is to receive books for review. Yet you receive so little acknowledgement as an INTL blogger. Netgalley has all but closed off requests from us, instead letting us “wish” for books. It truly discourages me to see bloggers and vloggers return from conventions with 50+ ARCs. How could you even read them all?
It’s something that we don’t like to think about, but reviewing new books helps your blog or channel grow immensely. Not having access to these books impedes growth as well, making international bloggers have to work 10 times as hard for the same reach. If I could afford to buy all the new releases, I would. I already hold off on requesting ARCs for diverse books, as the amount is limited and I would rather they go to someone who is being represented in the novel.
Unfortunately, I also have to pay rent and bills. There’s only so much I can afford. Which means I don’t read many new releases at all.
Jolien is a Belgian book blogger. She loves to read, travel, and cook and will push everyone to read The Song of Achilles.
Krisha, Book Blogger at Bookathon [India]
I am Krisha (she/her) and I am a blogger at Bookathon.
As an INTL book Blogger one of my biggest frustrations is not being able to get books easily, sometimes not even E-ARC. We are denied for books which are Indian ownvoices. That is my biggest challenge to get access and as a result talk about those books so that it can reach others.
Shipping charges are super high which makes shipping books quite expensive. We can’t do it for all books and hence have to do it for only a few books which becomes near impossible when you are a student/teen blogger. I just hope others would be considerate of all these factors.
We do have libraries here but they almost never have the latest books. They have no diverse titles and requesting them and getting them on the shelves is not always supported again because of the high costs. Most of the libraries don’t have a good collection as a result of this.
New releases and diverse titles are not available here easily. Even if we pre-order them they’ll usually come 1-2 months later. If there is a kindle edition it may come earlier and hence we have to stick to that way for getting books then.
Sometimes I feel it restricts me in the sense that I can’t read the latest books and can’t always contribute to its promotion the way I want to. Of course reading it 3-4 months later is not necessarily bad but for me it does bother me that I can’t get the books I am excited for just because I am not in the required country. *sigh*
I hope they get that if we don’t have a particular book, saying ‘why don’t you just order it’ or ‘it’s just $50 dollars’ is not the kind of things they should say. They shouldn’t make us feel bad about not having the resources. Privilege is loud when they say things like you can get books really easily and it’s not that big a deal or why don’t you just request them? It’s because we are denied them. I hope they can be more sensitive and understanding rather than being rude about it.
Krisha is a diverse book blogger and an avid reader. She loves fantasy, flowers and dance and is a passionate supporter of diverse and own voices books.
Maria, Book Blogger at A Logophile’s Love [Bangladesh]
As an international book blogger, what often hurts me to see is the lack of support and respect from both authors and US/UK/Australian bloggers.
I’m mostly barred from entering Goodreads giveaways. Most international giveaways are limited to where Book Depository/Wordery ships (not in Bangladesh). NetGalley gives us merely “Wish for it”. Edelweiss never accepts our requests for even diverse/ownvoices books.
And on top of it all, authors, every time the topic of book piracy comes up, disrespect and disregard us. Some suggest us to use local libraries, without stopping to think about how privileged and dismissive it sounds. Some blatantly call us thieves. I just wish more giveaways included eARC/eBook so everyone could participate.
I wish international bloggers were not used and abused like we don’t matter. It really hurts to see people we look up to mistreat us like this. Some of us (including me) go a great length to save and buy books despite our economical restrictions. The least we deserve is some respect, and authors acknowledging our labor and efforts, and treat us decently. It costs you nothing to treat people, who look up to you, as equals. In the long run, we are and will be your biggest supporters. So I entreat all authors, please give us our due respect and inclusive space.
I’m a book blogger, a writer of ownvoices books, and an English literature Masters student from Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Maha, Book Blogger at Sunshine N’ Books [Morocco]
Hi, I’m Maha (she/her), and I blog over at Sunshine N’ Books.
As an INTL blogger, books aren’t always available. You have to wait for weeks, sometimes months, to get a book delivered to you, and there’s only ONE bookstore in the country that has this option. This, of course, aside from the fact that most books are pretty expensive, I’d say around $25 for a YA book. This issue always comes in the way of buying new books to talk about them on my blog, and I usually like to talk about something that interests my readers.
Another thing that saddens me as an INTL blogger is that I can’t go to book events, like ALA, YALLWEST, etc. I just wish I could go just to meet all the other bloggers and just talk about books! But I can’t. *cries*
I’m Maha and I blog and read (and eat cookies)! On my free time I can be found reading, watching korean dramas, or screaming about BTS.
Michelle, Book Blogger at Love, Stars and Books [Singapore]
I am Michelle, who goes by she/her pronouns and I am a book blogger and bookstagrammer.
My biggest frustration as an INTL book blogger is that we don’t have the same access to ARCs especially if they are own voices or for POC.
One of the biggest challenge is not getting to read books by POC authors because I don’t live in the US although I’m Singaporean Chinese and would love to read own voices books. My local libraries do take a longer time to bring in new books, but they do after a month or two after release dates, but buying books in my country are extremely expensive. New releases and diverse books aren’t very accessible to me as I usually don’t get approved for them on Netgalley or Edelweiss (which is so weird even though I’m own voices).
I do feel that as an INTL book blogger, I am already disadvantaged as compared to other book bloggers in the US and UK because bigger publishing houses don’t even consider me for ARCs.
I wish that non-INTL book bloggers would ‘get’ that INTL bloggers are valid too and I would actually love if they would pass on their own voices ARCs to the POCs.
Michelle is a book blogger and aspiring writer. She loves fictional characters and crying over the deaths of them.
Aïcha, Book Blogger at Aïcha’s Bookshelf [Morroco]
Hi! My name is Aïcha, I am from Morocco and have started book blogging 8 months ago. I absolutely loved my experience especially that it made me exceed my already-high goodreads challenge.
I would say that my biggest frustration as an INTL book blogger comes from the struggle of building a big audience. I know that blogging is also supposed to be personal/ a creative time but I think we must admit that it is hard to spend a lot of time working on articles, writing posts and then end up with little interaction.
Books are fortunately accessible to me, my grandfather having left me the eternal treasure that is his gigantic library when it comes to older books (I wrote about our story on my blog) and my local library allows me to focus on modern reads as well.
Aïcha has been a bookworm for as long as she can remember and decided to create her own blog on “all things books” by writing reviews, making reading lists by themes/specific times, documenting bookshop crawls and just generally, sharing her thoughts on subjects pertaining to literature. Since she reads in different languages, she has chosen to divide her book reviews page in different sections according to language. Apart from reading, she enjoys painting, playing the piano, travelling, writing, photography, binge-watching tv shows and movies, spending time with her family and friends and way more!
Myta, Book Blogger from Oro Plata Myta [Philippines]
I’m Myta (they/them), and I’m a book blogger on WordPress.
My main problem as an international book blogger really is a lack of accessibility to the books that the West are privileged to obtain because the major publishing groups are located there. Since I am a Filipino and would like to read more books by Filipinos, I have to look for ways to purchase them elsewhere because our bookstores sometimes don’t carry these titles or have limited copies or are sometimes waaay expensive as if they’re coffee table books.
Books written by Fil-Ams that are available on Edelweiss or NetGalley are not accessible to us (we often get denied). It’s the same for diverse books. My main cost is the book buying, and if I need to go to book-related events, it’s food and drinks, but it’s all part of the hobby.
Libraries are too specialized here, mostly for academic purposes, so it’s a little useless. Hoping the non-international book blogging community would understand that not everyone has the same access as they do. They think $12 is cheap, when the same amount can feed an individual for a few days in other countries.
I think they’re smart enough to know the world is highly unequal in an economic sense, but they should really go beyond their worldview and see that there are people who are dying to read and express their thoughts while making sure their finances stay afloat.
Myta is a content strategist based in Manila, Philippines. She’s also into Magic: The Gathering and Dungeons & Dragons, so you know she budgets her hobbies wisely.
Follow Myta: Blog
Sakhile from Sakhile Whispers [South Africa]
One of the things that hardly ever gets spoken about when talking about issues facing international bloggers is internet access. Considering that internet access is a huge part of blogging, internet access is not cheap or accessible in some countries.
I’m lucky enough to know a person who has unlimited Wifi and they don’t mind when I come in and use it but before this, I was using internet cafes and it was quite a challenge. I don’t have the luxury of writing blog posts and immediately publishing them. I usually have to type on my laptop then find time to upload it or schedule it in advance.
When it comes to buying books I usually stick to ebooks and second hand when they’re cheaper but that’s not always the case as they are usually “available” so I use the library a lot. South African libraries are okay – on a scale of 1 to 10 I’d give the ones I’ve been to a 6.5. I got excited a few weeks ago when they had A Darker Shade of Magic in the new releases section – it’s been 4 years but that’s how quickly we get new releases unless it’s a widely popular book in Adult fiction.
And I can’t even mention diverse books, South African or otherwise, there are so many amazing South African authors and they have one shelf that’s filled with books published ten years ago. I really wish South African libraries supported local and continental authors more.
Sakhile is blogger and an aspiring designer. Her favourite musicians are Lana Del Rey and Floracash and you can find her doodling in her bullet journal or watching apartment tours on Youtube.
My biggest thank you’s!
Even though this is my third collaborative series, I’m still so thankful for all the incredible book bloggers who give their time and energy to contributing to these discussions! Therefore, I want to thank the eight incredible international book bloggers for sharing their experiences as international book bloggers. Thank you all; you’re all amazing.
Please do take a moment to check out their awesome blogs! Give their pages a follow, a like, or leave a comment. They do incredible work!
- Jolien, from The Fictional Reader
- Krisha, from Bookathon
- Maria, from Logophile’s Love
- Maha, from Sunshine N’ Books
- Michelle, from Love, Star and Books
- Aïcha, from Aïcha’s Bookshelf
- Myta, from Oro Plata Myta
- Sakhile, from Sakhile Whispers
And thank you, reader and friends, for reading all of these responses. International book bloggers often feel like they are not heard in the wider community, so your support is greatly appreciated. I hope you all take a moment to reflect, not only on these very different and unique experiences, but also on your own.
Next week, I’ll be posting eight more responses from international book bloggers! I hope to see you all next week, and, as always, if you would like to share your thoughts, please share in the comments below!