I’ve been wanting to write about this for a while now, and with the recent developments with Netgalley and Goodreads, I think it is the perfect time to talk about this. I won’t be going into depth about the developments on Netgalley and Goodreads because it has been talked about a lot already, and I don’t want to repeat the same things.
As you probably know, I’m not from the US. In fact, I’m from the Netherlands (you know that small country in Europe with clogs and cheese? except that there are barely any clogs to be found in the entire country). Since our native language is Dutch, there are already a couple of disadvantages to reading English books. But more about that later. This post is in no way supposed to come across as if I’m ungrateful for anything, or that I would be entitled to things other bloggers do get, or anything like that. I just wanted to talk about how for internationals, it can be a bit harder to get access to the same things others get easy access to.
There are two types of books in my life: finished copies and ARCs. ARCs are from publishers or authors that send me their books to review, but more about that later. My finished copies (or just regular books you can buy everywhere) I pretty much all buy.
I wish I could borrow books from libraries, but there’s just no good collection of YA in English and basically, English books in general. I know you can request books, but seriously, my library is so small, I don’t think they’d even look at those. And even so, I can’t go and request every single book I read, can I? Anyway, I don’t even have a library card anymore and sometimes I use my parents’ or little sister’s card to borrow books but that has gotten rarer and rarer.
Every now and then, I see library hauls on youtube or twitter and it’s just so surprising how well-stocked some libraries are. I would be lucky to get a book three years after release (mind you, usually translated), and some people get new releases on release date from libraries! That baffles me every time! But yay for you!
I love bookstores. But again, I have the same issues as with libraries, they don’t have a good English collection. There’s one (independent) bookstore I go to that has a decent collection and it’s about 60km from where I live. That’s over an hour by car. And this is the Netherlands, one of the most international-focused European countries there is! I wouldn’t know what to do with myself if I lived somewhere else.
I buy a lot of my books online, because it’s cheaper and they have a good stock. I mean, I would rather buy all my books in independent bookstores, because I love supporting those, but sometimes it’s just not possible. Especially not if you buy pretty much every book you read (and if you’ve read 100+ books in a year…). Quite a few of these books I buy online are ebooks, because I want to save money. And Amazon and BookDepository etc are probably also not the best companies to support either, but where else am I supposed to get my books? There’s one Dutch online retailer that has a good collection of books? And that’s it?
Okay, now to get on to the more interesting part of this post (I hope). Bloggers, reviewers, booktubers etc have the chance to review ARCs (advance reader copies), which are distributed before the book is released to create hype around a book. There are several ways to get these ARCs, via publishers (usually to get physical ARCs) or via services such as Netgalley and Edelweiss (only for digital ARCs). As an international is pretty darn close to impossible (okay maybe not that impossible, but still) to get physical ARCs. I know a few international bloggers that do get them, but for the most part, we don’t get that opportunity. Or only if we have a huge following.
So we as internationals will have to settle on digital ARCs, which is something I’m completely fine with, but even that is getting harder and harder. I have still not been accepted for a single ARC on Edelweiss, for no apparent reason, and Netgalley is making it harder and harder to request eARCs for internationals. There has been a lot of talk, especially on twitter, about how they replaced the “request” option on many books to “wish for it” buttons for international bloggers. This has serious consequences for so many reviewers over the entire world.
The thing I love about blogging is how easy it is to connect with people all over the world, but also how I can read and review books from publishers outside my own country. The books that are published in my country are not really my taste in books (more like, not at all), and having the opportunity to review books from major publishers in the US or UK is amazing. But now they’re taking that away. Without there being any good reason given for it. They’re excluding internationals because…? Legal issues? WHY ARE THERE EVEN LEGAL ISSUES??
Most of the people that read my blog are from the US, that’s a fact. I can post on Amazon in the US, so that’s not a good reason to reject me either. Goodreads doesn’t differentiate either when it comes to reviews. So there is simply no good reason to say I can’t review something, just because my laptop is standing in a different place in the world. There aren’t even costs (not to my knowledge) to sending me a digital file. It’s a digital file, there are no shipping costs!
Anyway, I’m getting sidetracked. ARCs are one of the things that make blogging just that bit extra special, and for US (and UK??) bloggers it’s relatively easy to get access to those, and for internationals we already have a disadvantage. Another thing that’s really making us internationals feel even less welcome is the change Goodreads made to their giveaway system. They’ve decided (for no good reason given) to make them US-only. Meaning there are even less opportunities for international readers.
Lately, I’ve been feeling less and less appreciated and welcome, because of these changes two major bookish platforms have made. What they need to realize is that internationals make up a HUGE part of their userbase and that they can’t just reject us and expect it to be all okay. We are not entitled to anything, and we of all people are very aware of that. We don’t usually get to take part in bookcons, have the opportunity to meet authors, have libraries with amazing selections, and so on, and I’m okay with that, but they’re taking away even more opportunities. And at a certain point, it’s enough. And we won’t take that. I think now is that point.
We work just as hard (some even harder) than some bloggers from the US, but we don’t get the same opportunities they get. Don’t take away the meager opportunities we do get.
Sorry for this very long rambly post, I hope you liked it nonetheless.