Blogging as an International | Access to books and ARCs

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.

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Finished copies

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.

Libraries

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!

Bookstores

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.

Online

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?

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ARCs

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.

Digital ARCs

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!

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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.

 

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Sorry for this very long rambly post, I hope you liked it nonetheless.

Are you an international blogger/reviewer? Do you ever get ARCs? What do you think of the changes Netgalley and Goodreads have made? Do you agree with me (or not)?

70 thoughts on “Blogging as an International | Access to books and ARCs

  1. I’m from Luxembourg (another small country in Europe ^^) and I rarely get e-Arcs. Well, I only started blogging 6 months ago so that’s not surprising at all. I don’t do the blogging thing to get free books but I still find it disappointing that we, as international book bloggers don’t get the same chances than a US or UK blogger. Here in Luxembourg we only have one All English bookstore but it is very small so it doesn’t have a large selection which is a bit sad because Luxembourg is well-known for its people speaking different languages and having a lot of English speaking workers. I honestly don’t understand why NetGalley took the decision to stop giving e-arcs to international readers. I mean it is an e-arc and not a physical copy so I honestly don’t understand the logic behind it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know exactly how you feel! I don’t know why NetGalley is being so hard on us, they haven’t even released a press statement or something. They’ve just increased the number of “wish for it” books for internationals without reason! I wish they’d just explain something, then maybe I wouldn’t feel like we’re kicked out of their community.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree with all of it. I’m from Germany and getting English books at the library or in a bookstore is almost impossible. I haven’t talked about the specifics in my post but I completely agree with everything you say. There really is no reason why international bookblogger or booktubers shouldn’t get eArcs. There are no costs involved. The thing that makes me so angry is that the entire book community and publishing industry talks about diversity in books, but what about diverse reviewers from different countries? We don’t only need diverse books we also need diverse bloggers.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. It wouldn’t bother me if the diverse bloggers would get the books as well. I just really don’t understand it. It is as if they are afraid of ownvoices reviewers critisizing the work of authors because they are more sensitive about stereotypes and stuff like exoticism in books. Sure, there are a lot of diverse reviewers in America but even those don’t get enough attention. There needs to be some serious change in how publishers and companies like netgalley work with reviewers and book marketing in general.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. I agree with you, many times I’ve seen white reviewers getting ARCs of #ownvoices books, while #ownvoices bloggers didn’t get the ARC. It’s seriously a problem, because us diverse bloggers should have more importance when regarding an #ownvoices book

        Liked by 2 people

    1. Definitely! Concerning how most US publishers sell books over the entire world, you should at least give those people a shot at reading an ARC. All cultures are different and if you promote diversity, you should also keep in mind that diverse people live over the entire world. Not just in the US. The US might be their target audience but that doesn’t mean the rest of the world doesn’t buy their books.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for your post! It’s so upsetting to see us international readers get excluded even further. Like you said – these changes appear to happen for no solid reason and that angers me the most: that there is not even great reasoning behind them, apart from focusing even more on US readers, because everyone else is not seen as important. For some readers these changes are even more devastating than for me, because they largely rely on getting eArcs and getting these opportunities.

    I am trying not to let all of this spoil my joy for reading and blogging, but it does affect me. I just really hope that everyone else is still finding the joy in those things, no matter how upsetting things have been lately 💕

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I could do without ARCs too, and I’d survive, but it’s the fact that they’re actively excluding us for no given reason, that’s bothering me the most. They earn money from internationals, the least they could do is give us something in return. And eARCs are not exactly expensive (not to my knowledge).
      I hope so too! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m Australian. I’m still kinda new to the book blogging world, only recently discovered netgally and have been considering it. It’s disappointing to heard about the changes.. at the moment I’ve just been receiving books for review directly from authors here on WordPress.

    Does your library do ebooks? It’s something my library has started. Might be something for you to look into? 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Getting review requests from authors directly is great!
      My library does have a few ebooks but I don’t even have a library card anymore, so I can’t borrow them. Even still, their collection is very small.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Shannon A Thompson seems pretty keen for people to review her books. Take a look and if you’re interested she’s on Twitter @AuthorSAT 🙂
        (Obviously I can’t make promises though)

        Liked by 1 person

  5. This was a fantastic post, Lia! And really, really well put! I couldn’t have said it this well – I would’ve just ranted and used curse words and what not. Because I’m angry! I’m an international blogger with a HUGE part of my readership being in the US (with the UK being second) and the fact that it’s just gotten this much more difficult to get copies of upcoming releases SUCKS. I would love to be able to let my US and UK readers (and everyone else, obviously) know about fantastic new releases that are coming out soon – but I just won’t be able to. Right now, I almost don’t even feel like reading and reviewing the few eARCs I have left on NetGalley because it feels like my voice doesn’t matter to them anymore. So why invest the time, you know?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Swetlana! Hahaha I tried not to be too ranty, glad it worked out 😛
      I know exactly how you feel! I have a couple of eARCs still on Netgalley and I think I will continue using it while I still can. I don’t feel very welcome but I also don’t want to stop supporting new releases because the platform sucks.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Dude, you should have been SO ranty, okay? It is SO appropriate in this particular situation! Especially with the conversation that has been going on on Twitter about it….

        That’s a PERFECT description of how I feel, actually! Not very welcome! But I hope that by finally taking the plunge and contacting publishers directly, I’ll be able to still at least get some of the upcoming releases and hype them some more that way! I mean, I think it’s pretty obvious that I’ll be talking about some of them anyways because I’m just THAT excited for them – ARC or not!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. But if I would have ranted for a thousand words, I don’t think anyone would have taken me seriously haha
        If we can’t have a decent conversation about things like that, shouting about it won’t help.
        That’s true! I hope you’ll be able to find publishers that want to send you books!

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I agree fully. Also posted my own piece on this and honestly, I was afraid I’d come off as a brat for speaking my mind. To see so many others agree is just such a welcome thing. So thank you 💙

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha I hoped not to come across as whiny! I think we all need to speak up as internationals because nobody else is going to do it for us. I just read your post and it’s great!! Thank you!

      Like

  7. This is such a good discussion, thank you for writing it! I’m from Hungary, and as it is a rather small country, books in English are VERY hard to find. I know two booksellers, but they have a rather small collection of English titles, and mostly adult fiction + hyped YA, like John Green. I have a library card to the biggest library in Hungary, and while they are pretty great, they have close to no English titles, and the ones they DO have are 95% adult and then the Twilight Saga (I’m not even kidding lol). As far as translated books go – again, small country, there are not that many books being translated each year to begin with. Plus, being really invested in new releases, if I cared about a title I usually have already read it by the time it is translated to Hungarian. And don’t even get me started on how the publishers are rushing translators, and so sometimes the translation turns out less than satisfactory. 😐 I usually order from The Book Depo and Amazon. I obviously try to appreciate what I do have & I don’t feel entitled to anything, but I do wish that it was more understood in the community how hard INT bloggers have it sometimes? And I’m not even talking about ARCs, just generally book shopping. The only time I actually could browse through a good amount of YA titles was when we went to Vienna’s biggest bookshop, and I obviously can’t go to Austria every month lol. ANYHOW, this was a fantastic post & you got a new follower. 😀

    Veronika @ The Regal Critiques

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aww thanks for following! I completely understand where you’re coming from! I am quite lucky to have more English books to choose from at my library and bookstores, but still I wished people from English-spoken countries would realize how lucky they are to have all the opportunities they have. Thank you for commenting ❤

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  8. Lisa, so true!!! I get so disheartened when I see a slew of white, American reviewers getting free Advanced Reader Copies of Own Voices or books by Black authors (The Belles, to name one). I am a Black American and while I have way more access to books than Europeans, it also feels like the book publishers cater to white, Americans (There is nothing wrong with being white!!! I just wish there were ways to get free books as a minority). I’m sorry if I didn’t phrase myself better.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I am from Canada. I actually live less than an hour from the US border, and I am also facing these issues. While my library has a pretty decent collection, we don’t get books on release day, and ebooks are hit or miss. I also tend to buy ebooks when I am buying new releases, because I am trying to save money. Thankfully, new books are accessible in stores here, but they still cost a fair bit.

    This whole US-centric attitude is just awful, and I am so done with it. Us international reviewers put in so much love and effort, and we always seem to be getting the short end of the stick. We don’t get the author visits, we don’t get the big book events, and now our access to ARCs is being diminished so greatly. It is a slap in the face, and I am so tired of it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know what you mean, I think we all are tired of the focus on US reviewers when there are so many dedicated internationals out here willing to do so much work!

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  10. It is true…I am from Pakistan, English books are not that much popular(or Available), don’t have the trend of libraries ( of course in big cities they are) but not in mine…Physical ARCs are just a fool dream for me…So Netgalley is my first and last option to hope for ARCS…Yeah, can buy books after publishing online but then what will be special about our blogs( International bloggers)…😣😡

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I feel so sorry for you, I hope Netgalley will do something about this and make ARCs available to you and to others ❤
      I don't think ARCs should be what makes a blog special, but I hate that they're excluding so many dedicated bloggers from eARCs.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I agree with a lot of what you have written. It seems hugely unfair for bloggers outside the US to be excluded or marginalised, especially when as you say with digital files there should be no cost really. I order lots of books online, because my interests tend to be different/esoteric 😂, although I do love independent bookshops and we do have a few good ones in Melbourne, Australia. It is a pity your library is not well stocked with current books. I must admit my local library is great with even new releases. Your blog is great, I don’t visit that often because I’m busy, but you definitely deserve to be getting advance copies. Good luck!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aww thank you Cynthia! I love independent bookstores and I would definitely use my library more if they had a better stock, but there’s not much to do about that. Thanks for commenting!

      Like

  12. I’m a blogger in Germany and I am new to the book blog world aka was too shy until now to even request an ARC. I wanted to build up my blog first, but I digress; I think it’s really shitty what they are doing and I think it’s important that international bloggers continue to fight. I mean, who wants to read 10 reviews through the same lens? International/diverse bloggers are just as important as diverse media. It’s scary that we’re being limited/silenced. Keep fighting, reading, and writing everyone 🖤

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Ugh what’s been happening with Goodreads and Netgalley lately has been so infuriating! I feel less and less appreciated every single day and it sucks because I love blogging, and I love sharing my love for books (old and new releases alike) with people all over the world! But with these changes, I genuinely feel like I don’t matter anymore and my voice won’t be heard. It’s saddening me that they are taking all these opportunities away from us! Fantastic post Lia, you’ve managed to put all of my own thoughts about this issue into this post! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I feel the same way! As an international, it feels as if we’re kicked out but slowly, and that sucks. But we’re all in this together so we should stick together and help each other out, even if others won’t. Thank you Jackie ❤

      Like

  14. I just found out about this when I logged on to twitter 15 minutes ago and stumbled to your post. Wish for it is all I’ve been seeing on Netgalley, but I thought it was just a coincidence. I never actually thought that they purposefully cut us off from the rest of the world. Sure, a lot of the readers are from the US but hello, there are other countries other than the US and I bet all readers combined are more than readers in the US. And you’re right, it’s not a problem of entitlement towards ARCs, but it’s a problem of ACCESS and being part of the community. I mean, US readers got comic con, screenings, fan meetings, book conventions, givewayas, physical arcs, well stocked library, amazon… you name it, they got everything first. ARCs is one way we got a piece of those privileges and now they are trying to cut us too? Where does that leave us? Aren’t we readers to, bloggers or not? Don’t we deserve to get a tiny bit of privilege our friends got?

    I love blogging, but you’re right. It feels like us international bloggers are being sidelined more and more these days. I’ll still support the authors but I hope they (not the authors) won’t be shocked or starting to point fingers when the stats and traffics are going down because well… they started it first by discredit us.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I couldn’t agree more! We definitely deserve more opportunities. US reviewers get a lot of things we don’t, and that’s okay, but we had this one thing we could hold on to and now that’s taken from us, and they’re the ones complaining that we’re whining… I hope something will change!

      Like

  15. It definitely sucks that this is happening, and I’m pretty certain those of us in the UK are affected by the changes with Netgalley and Goodreads too. It is just stupid. Unless they’re directly from the publishers, I think the only other place we can get ARCs is at YALC, but since that is held in London, it’s not always accessible for those of us living in the North! It would be nice to get my hands on an ARC at some point, but now all this has come about, I think it will be damned impossible.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think they are, but there still are a lot of UK publishers sending out ARCs to UK reviewers so at least they still have that. And there is the new UK version of Netgalley, on which internationals are also not often able to request books anymore. There are not that many publishers sending out ARCs to internationals, and with Netgalley as (one of) their/our only source of ARCs, I think they are the ones affected most.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It does suck and I think it’s mainly the bigger UK blogs and booktubers that tend to get the ARCs, so smaller bloggers within the community are still hit with the changes. With the UK version of Netgalley doing this, I’m actually now glad I’ve never used it because I can’t go along with what they are doing. It’s awful and horrendously unfair. With the outcry, I think we all demand a reason from Netgalley as to why this is happening.

        Liked by 1 person

  16. ALL OF THIS! I live in Malaysia, and thankfully English books are available at major bookstores and book sales, but a lot of books are only available here months after the release in the Western countries, and it is just so frustrating to see more and more opportunities for DIVERSE BLOGGERS and different points of views taken away from us, just because we do not live in the States.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. This was such a great discussion post, thank you for writing it Lia. I’m from the UK so haven’t experienced the things you’ve mentioned firsthand, but it sucks that this is happening to you and other international bloggers!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. UK blogger here, have been blogging since 2011, and I still find it really hard to get ARCs. The ones I got this year were from a Con, NetGalley. and work (in a book store). I dont think I’ve ever had one from a publisher.. ?

    But I 100% agree its terrible that this has happened recently and also with no explanation? no word from anyone? its weird and i dont like it

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Most content industries have geo-specific licensing policies – other examples are TV and film. Primary publishers likely can’t distribute copies of a book into a territory to which it has not been licensed already (probably contractually with the author or their management), and same for territories in which they’ve sold distribution rights to secondary parties.

    Like

  20. Thank you so so much for writing this. I agree with everything you wrote. I can’t buy books online cos the exchange rate between the Nigerian naira and US dollar is very very high. I buy thrift education books in my country but many of them have been published since 2014 or even before then. It’s nearly impossible to see a 2016 or 2017 thrifted book. The few bookstores that sell new books sell them at outrageous prices that I simply can’t afford. Netgalley and blog Tours where the ways through which I got nearly all the books I read. With the Netgalley rule, I’m not sure what I’m going to be reading. I almost feel like asking authors to pay me to review their books cos I have no money to buy books.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so sorry that it’s so hard to get books in Nigeria! I hope Netgalley will fix their mistakes and enable you and other internationals to read more eARCs! Thanks for commenting!

      Like

  21. I agree with everything you said, Lia 🙂 I live in Switzerland, and we’re also more or less in the middle of Europe. However, for such a tiny country, there are four national languages – and those languages are always at an advantage when it comes to books that can be found in libraries or bookstores.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. I’m glad to hear your opinion on this! I will say, I’ve still yet to receive any physical ARCs, so I don’t know that it’s “easy” to get them even in the US, but I do understand that it’s much more difficult in international countries.
    I do tend to get most of the books I read from the library! My actual library doesn’t actually have that many of the books that I want, but a town ~20 minutes from mine has an awesome, up-to-date selection, so I order probably 90% of my library books from there. I’m very lucky!
    In any case, I’ve heard quite a bit about the situation with Goodreads and Netgalley, and I’m very sorry to hear about it. It’s totally unfair for them to cut out all international bloggers and readers, and I really hope this changes.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Amy! I understand ARCs are never easy to get unless you have the right contacts and have many followers, and I can definitely believe it is hard for UK reviewers as well. That’s great about your library!
      Thank you for your support!! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  23. I’m not an international blogger – I’m from the UK but I am finding it really upsetting that other bloggers from regions all around the world are being purposely excluded by publishers. I think it’s a shame that big publishers such as Harper Collins which have offices in Australia, UK, Canada and America aren’t attempting to set up offices in other countries since then it be easier to have a book more widely published and accessible for international bloggers.

    I have heard rumour though, Goodreads will be opening giveaways back up for international. Just at the moment they are trialling a new giveaway service which is why it’s only he US. But that is just a rumour and I’m not sure what will happen.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I really hope Goodreads will do that, I thought they might, because they said ‘initially’, but I’d love it if they were to confirm it for us 🙂
      Thank you for your support!

      Liked by 1 person

  24. yeah those rules aren’t actually helping international bloggers. I get it if your publication is limited, but if it’s not I don’t understand why you limit people like that? I hope that they reverse the decision, though in Australia I still have fairly good supprt, just no book conventions

    Liked by 1 person

  25. I just found out… I can not believe they would do this! I guess this works just in the ways of Trump America, doesn’t it? I can’t believe it still. I’m going to be angry for a while.

    Don’t despair about Edelweiss! I get accepted there a lot. If you want to know how my profile looks, just DM me on Twitter or something, I’ll help you set it up and maybe they’ll start accepting you. This is a time we internationals have to stick together :/

    As for legal issues.. They should just let the publishers decide. God… It sucks 😦 I don’t care about the Goodreads giveaways, they never had anything good for internationals to begin with, but NetGalley… is a blow.

    I guess it’s time we’re going to have to start canvassing publishers, if not for print ARCs, then at least for eARCs.

    It’s incredibly silly how much usership they’re going to lose… Half the bloggers I know are not from the US! The really good blogs aren’t even from the US, cause they need to try harder than their US counterparts (I feel like pretty much anyone gets ARCs there anyway, print ones at that)… Ugh, I am so angry right now, angry and sad 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much (again) with the help on Edelweiss! The legal issues are so weird, I don’t know why they’re being so difficult.

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