Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Guest Post: International Book Blogging

One of the advantages of Armchair BEA is that everyone can get involved, no matter how far away from New York City you may be. Book blogging is a phenomenon that’s spread all over the world but it’s not without its challenges. Today we talk to just a few book bloggers from our international community about the trials and tribulations of blogging in their part of the world.

Let’s meet our bloggers! Where are you all from?

Cindy from Cindy’s Love of Books: I am a Canadian blogger who blogs from a little city in one of the burbs of Montreal (Quebec). I am about 20 to 30 minutes from down town Montreal. (On a good traffic day)
Chachic from Chachic’s Book Nook: I blog from Metro Manila, the capital of the Philippines.
Marg from The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader: I am coming to you live from the suburbs in Melbourne, Australia!
Iris from Iris on Books: The Netherlands.

First question, what is the book blogging scene there like? Are there any book events you are able to attend? If yes, how was that experience?

Cindy: When I first started out I wasn't sure if there was any one else blogging from here but soon found out there is a bunch of us. We do have some book events here called Salon du Livre (which is a huge French book convention/sale) and then we have the Blue Met that has just started. Sadly I haven't taken part in the Blue Met because the times are conflicting with my schedule. I do attend Salon Du Livre and it’s too bad there wasn't more English there.

Chachic: I actually started a group called Filipino Book Bloggers because I noticed that more and more Filipinos are starting their own book blogs and I wanted to have a venue for all of us to connect. However, not all Filipino book bloggers are members of the site so I know that the list there is incomplete. There are a lot of bloggers here who read and blog in English - most Filipinos are fluent in English because that's the medium of instruction in our schools.
There are local comic cons and book conferences for publishers here but I've never attended those. I've attended a couple of book launches and I enjoyed those because it's always nice to meet authors in person.

Marg: I am pretty lucky because there are always quite a few bookish events to attend in Melbourne. The city is one of only four places designated as UNESCO City of Literature, with the others being Edinburgh, Dublin and Iowa City.
There are a number of festivals that are held during the year with the most well known being the Melbourne Writer's Festival (MWF) which is held each year in August and attracts many big name authors. Even outside of the festival environment, as one of the biggest cities in Australia we do get a lot of authors on tours, and so if you have the time there are always plenty of book related events to attend. Just recently I have been to meet Aussie author Sara Foster, met NY Times bestseller Rachel Caine at my local library, been to a live recording of The Book Show (which is transmitted daily on our public radio network) featuring Australian authors Toni Jordan, Morris Gleitzman and Andrea Goldsmith, and in the next month or so I am going to see Geraldine Brooks and Cassandra Clare. If I had more time, I would definitely be doing more of these things, but alas I have a full time job, and a child to look after!
The book blogging scene seems to be growing in leaps and bounds and I am always finding new bloggers that are based in Melbourne. I have been involved over the last year or so in trying to develop the Australian Book Blogging community by trying to create ways for people to connect with others who might be based in their same city and/or who have similar reading tastes. One of the ways of doing this was by creating the Australian Book Blogger Directory (which is woefully behind and I really need to update) and creating #spbkchat on Twitter with Maree from Just Add Books (from New Zealand) and Tanabata from In Spring it is the Dawn (Japan) which is a chat that suits our time zone. We used to wake up in the morning having seen some awesome chats that had happened while we were sleeping.
I was also involved in organising the recent Sydney Book Blogger Meetup, and the first Melbourne Book Blogger Meetup will be held during BEA week.

Iris: During this last year, I have got to know a few Dutch book bloggers. I think around 6? But some of those blog about food as well. I think maybe the scene might be bigger when I would look into blogs written in Dutch, but I haven't found many of those.
As for bookish events, I have never been to one. There was one event that just started this year, which focuses on European fiction, that I wanted to visit, but I couldn't. In general, I don't know of many bookish events and if I know about them they are usually focused on Dutch fiction, something I do not generally read.

Have you met (in person) any other book bloggers from your country? A book blogger from another country?

Cindy: The only book bloggers I have met from Canada are the local book bloggers that I have met up with on a monthly basis but perhaps now that there is a few more of us perhaps something will be arranged where we can meet more local bloggers. I am also hoping to attend a book convention next year in Toronto so I will probably get to meet some bloggers from there. Since I was able to attend BEA last year I got to meet some US bloggers that I have been dying to meet.

Chachic: The Filipino Book Bloggers group met up several times during the past few months and we talked about everything book-related that we can think of. I blogged about those events here. I haven't met bloggers from other countries in person and I only get to communicate with them through social networking sites.

Marg: I have met quite a few other bloggers. I am lucky to even have other bloggers who live within 10-15 minutes of me and we are starting to meet up relatively regularly. The Sydney Book Blogger Meet up was a great opportunity for me to meet book bloggers from another city too!
There are several overseas book bloggers who I would love to meet! One day maybe it will happen!

Iris: A few of us Dutch bloggers have met up once and had tea together. And when I lived in Sweden for a few months I met up with Zee, which was very nice. She gave me a tour of Stockholm.

What are some of the benefits of being a book blogger in your country?

Cindy: Thankfully some of the big name publishers are here in Canada so we are able to get some books through them. Sometimes if you are lucky you get your hands on a book that is only being released here. Another benefit is getting to discover our own Canadian authors and meeting them.

Chachic: One of the advantages of blogging in the Philippines is that books are cheaper here. I'm not exactly sure why but most books in local bookstores are priced lower than the cover price.

Marg: I have been book blogging for a long time, and yet to me, we are really coming to an exciting time. Australian publishers are starting to reach out to book bloggers in a way that hasn't happened before, and if you can make those connections, there are some exciting opportunities to be had.

Iris: Um, that is a hard question. I cannot immediately think of any benefits. Maybe it is that there are so few book bloggers that you don't feel the need to compete with each other? But then, I never really identify myself as a "Dutch" book blogger, and my closest blogging friends are from all over the world.

What are some of the difficulties of being a book blogger in your country?

Cindy: Personally one of the difficulties about book blogger in Quebec and perhaps Canada in general is not getting alot of the great books that our US bloggers get because of the fact that some won't ship to Canada. I have encountered that when I sent emails to request books.

Chachic: The biggest problem for local book bloggers is probably availability. We don't have good public libraries like first world countries do so most of the books that Filipino book bloggers review have to be bought from a bookstore or borrowed from a friend. There are several local bookstores here in the Philippines but not all of the books that we want are locally available. It's a good thing the Book Depository and Better World Books have free shipping to the Philippines although it takes several weeks (or even months) for orders to arrive. And because shipping is usually expensive, local book bloggers don't receive as many review copies as book bloggers based in the US or UK do. Most local publishers aren't aware of book bloggers so we normally don't get review copies for local books either.

Marg: The biggest difficulty associated with being a reader in Australia is the price of books. They are really, really expensive here. It is really hard though because as a reader you want to be able to buy more books, which mean that you might buy from overseas, but you also want to support the Australian publishing industry so that it remain alive and vibrant and keeps on producing Australian authors. As an example, a few months ago I did a post comparing the price of one book if I bought it from an Australian retailer compared to overseas retailers, and the prices difference between the cheapest option and the most expensive option was.
One of the biggest frustrations of being an Australian book blogger is seeing so many books on other blogs that we either just can't get here easily, or that are being given away, but only to restricted certain countries (US/Canada usually). We do understand that postage is expensive (having sent books from Australia to other countries believe me I know), but when it is so constantly restricted it is very frustrating.
These regional restrictions come into play even more when you are talking ebooks, as it is quite a regular occurence for an Australian reader to want to download an ebook from a legitimate supplier, only to find that geo-restrictions mean that you can't download it.

Iris: Book blogging hasn't really been accepted over here as something that could help spread the word about books. I have never been contacted by a Dutch publisher about a book. But I know Leeswammes has since she has a blog about Dutch fiction as well. For my blog, it could be that I never focus on Dutch literature much. In general, publishers are more reluctant to work with international bloggers, or from my perspective, European bloggers. There is also the disadvantage of the blogging scene being mostly US or UK centered. I think mostly US, really. There are a lot of resources, meet-ups, events, blogtours, etcetera that are open to US only. Which is logical, because of the costs for me to travel to something like BEA, but also because of the logistics on the other side of the atlantic. If you hold a blog tour, why would you invest in sending a book overseas when you could just send it to a blogger from the US? It is really frustrating at times, because you feel like you put in all this work, just as much as US bloggers, and you hear them telling you about all the review copies they receive or ave to decline, while I feel so lucky to receive any review request that first my blog.

Do you ever spotlight your nation's books or authors on your blog? What has been the reception from your readers?

Cindy: Sadly I don't spotlight them as much as I should be I always jump at the chance to read and review Canadian authors. The reaction has been so so I have noticed.

Chachic: I've featured some books by Filipino authors in my blog and they don't get as many hits as my other posts but I think it's a good idea to promote local authors. Other Filipino readers have commented on some of my reviews that they were encouraged to read the local books that I post about. Some of the books that are available internationally were picked up by blogger friends from other countries.

Marg: Every year one of my blogging resolutions is to read more Australian Authors. This year I have actually done it! Part of the reason for being more successful at this resolution was my involvement in Aussie Author Month which ran during April which aimed to spotlight Australian authors, and to raise fund for the Indigenous Literacy Project. I am really hopeful that this initiative will continue in future years as it was a lot of fun to be involved with and I discovered some really good authors like Margo Lanagan, Tansy Rayner Roberts, Marianne de Pierres, Gabrielle Wang and more during the month.
I do find that posts about local authors get less reaction from my readers. I think part of the reason for that is that their names just aren't known by overseas readers. Even if they do like the sound of the book, it can be very difficult for overseas readers to get hold of some Australian authors books.

Iris: I am hoping to do so in June, when I plan to devote a whole month to Dutch literature. As I have said before, I hardly read any Dutch literature and when people ask me what my favourite Dutch author is, I always have to think really hard, because I don't know, really. And I would like that to change. I would like to be able to contribute to a more international sphere of blogging and reading by reading not just the books that are well-known and respected in the US and the UK, but by hopefully having others become curious about European literature. Dutch literature might not be the best place to start for me personally, since my former experience with it wasn't great, but I hope it will work out. Up until now, I haven't had many reactions to it, but the bloggers who have reacted are all very nice and enthusiastic about it.

Finally, Is there one author or book from your country you'd like the world to know about?

Cindy: This is a good question. When I think of Canadian authors such as Kelley Armstrong and Louise Penny they are pretty well known authors but I think Lori Weber is a fantastic YA author who needs some attention.

Chachic: For middle grade and young adult readers, I'd recommend Tally Story by Candy Gourlay. It was the first middle grade/young adult book by a Filipino author that I read and I really liked it. It has an international publisher so it's probably available in most countries. For contemporary romance readers, I'd recommend Fairy Tale Fail by Mina V. Esguerra, which is available in ebook format from both Amazon and Smashwords. It's a good read for anyone who's interested in what life is like for a young woman in her mid-twenties in Manila.

Marg: Just one? There are lots of Australian authors that I would love people to know about, and I am sure that there are tons that I haven't discovered yet myself!

Iris: I think for general fiction, Kader Abdollah and Abdelkader Benali deserve to be read worldwide, instead of just in this small country. However, it seems that only Kader Abdollah has been translated and available at this moment.

Thank you so much guys for giving us insight to book blogging from different parts of the world. I appreciate you taking the time to answer my questions. Please check these bloggers out!

Photo Credit: Stock.xchng


  1. Thank you so much for including me in this interview/feature! It's always nice to get the perspective of other international bloggers. I'm laughing at how similar our answers are to the difficulties of being an international blogger. Looks like availability is a common problem for all of us.

  2. I really enjoyed this post. Living in NYC it's easy to forget that books aren't so accessible everywhere else in the world. The fact that even somewhere as close as Canada, some books aren't available and authors aren't known.
    The other thing I learned and was surprised about is how in some countries blogging isn't a popular or accepted way to promote books. Iris stated this as the case in The Netherlands in particular. It's difficult to fathom since here in the USA book blogs are so popular and sought by publishers.

    The comments by Iris, Marg, Cindy & Chachic have helped me understood the importance of International giveaways. I appreciate their honesty regarding the availability of books and the high cost of books in their countries.

    Thank you for this informative post. It certainly has opned my eyes, provided me a different perspective and also made me aware of how fortunate I am to live in NYC.
    If there's any way I can help you get books Iris, Marg, Cindy and Chachic, please email me!

  3. Thank you so much for including me in this feature. I am loving that I just dicovered three new to me bloggers. Even though we are all spread out in the world we all share the same interests etc.

  4. Amy that is so nice of you to offer. I truly appreciate it.

  5. Dear Chachic, Cindy, Marg and Iris...thanks for sharing so much on this post and thanks BEA once again. Being a book blogger in India, I can completely relate to what all the four of them have mentioned. I simply love these international titles, but the reason I have not been able to do many reviews/ARC peeks, is because

    1.It gets really expensive to get these books from a US source

    2.Many of the times we are not even aware of some really good titles releasing, as these are not marketed that well in countries that are farther away (and I really think this is where the US publishers should really focus - to try and engage more international book bloggers and create a channel to distribute these books locally in these countries). This would give access to so many enthusiastic readers about international titles that should not be missed.

    3.Yes, I too feel really sad when I read so many US book bloggers mentioning that they have to refuse ARCs because they don't have time to do so many, while for us, even 01 ARC would mean the world. I have seen soooooo many books on the blogs of many of the US book bloggers here, titles which I would love to read and review and share with readers in India, but sadly,I have never seen these books here.

    4.All this makes book reviewing pretty expensive here, as international titles are very very expensive and there is no way you can keep on buying books and reviewing them.

    I am glad Armchair BEA did this interview..Maybe we will have a better chance to keep our book blogging passion alive and more global....thanks guys....

  6. Also, I have checked with many publishers in India if they are willing to let me have an ARC so that I can review it and tell readers about it. But all of them have refused,as many times they create a hype and want their customers to pre-order the supposed 'amazing' books. Once its out,it turns out the book was a total dampener and I have personally once THROWN AWAY A BOOK in the bin !!! which is unbelievable given how much I love (n even caress) my books!!! They are also afraid that a book blogger may write something negative about the book and that can affect sales, as most of the books are exorbitantly yes,anyone who is book blogging in the US is really lucky and I am glad for you...Hope we too get to start the ARC system someday and can really and happily concentrate on book blogging, without worrying about doling out large sums of money at the bookstores...
    With love from India....Debolina

  7. What an interesting look at international bloggers! There are lots of things I never think about that you guys have to struggle with. Cool interview.

  8. I love this! Thank you so much. It's so cool getting to know international book bloggers. Also, thank for setting up Chachic to interview me---I really enjoyed it :)

  9. Thanks for highlighting these international bloggers. I really enjoy Marg's blog and Cindy's. I can't wait to start reading these others.

  10. What an awesome post!
    Thank you for the interviews!

    inga from

  11. It's definitely so interesting to read about how things are in other countries. I know I often feel left out here in Canada, whether it be through obtaining books or going to author events, but that's such a bad attitude, really. I have to remind myself that we have a LOT of advantages that the rest of the world doesn't when it comes to books and other things.

  12. I also want to thank you for this post. I am an author who recently left my Big 6 Publisher to work with an independent. I had no idea there were so many bloggers in other countries who blogged in English. I am very nervous about the lack of reach of an indy publisher. But with bloggers in other countries reviewing our indy books, I think those of us making the jump have a chance at international exposure, even before we sell international rights. This sets my mind at ease.

    If any International blogger would like a free ARC of my new YA paranormal novel, Boyfriend From Hell, please let me know. I would be happy to send it to you.

    Thanks Armchair BEA


  13. Thanks for the interview! I just brought home a Louise Penny and will for sure check out Louise Weber, Cindy.

    And how amazing that the internet can join us all in our love of books.

  14. Um, back....I really meant I will go check out Lori Weber's books!