Hello, friends! I’m Veronika, coming here from The Regal Critiques, where I blog with my two co-bloggers, Ruzi and Clare. First thing first, I would like to thank Aliénor for coming up with this idea, and for letting me guest-post on her blog. ❤ As a person living in a small, non-English speaking country, namely Hungary, [for those with as much geographical knowledge as I have, it’s in Central Europe] the topic of international bloggers is incredibly close to my heart, and so having this opportunity means a lot to me.
You may be rolling your eyes, asking, “well, if it is so important to you, why have you never written a post like this on your blog?” Valid question – and I have an answer, a more honest one than I thought I’d give when I sat down to write this post. I thought many people would not understand what I’m talking about. Not because they aren’t smart, lovely people, but because I’ve seen it time and time again that whenever international bloggers speak up about something – e.g. the issues with Netgalley – they get called “entitled” and “whiny”. So, yes, I was (am?) scared of writing this, even though I’ve been following the other bloggers’ posts on here, and wow, I’m impressed! Y’all talked about your bookish lives so eloquently that I don’t even know why I am here right now haha.
By writing this post, I’m not at all trying to be the “special snowflake” reviewer, or to call out, or annoy anyone. My only goal is to showcase what a European, particularly a Hungarian, book blogger’s life is like. I fully know and understand that I am still between the more privileged group of bloggers – residents of many countries have a much harder time of acquiring books. So, please, don’t take this as me complaining – I’m only trying to share some info, in a hopefully factual way, about what it is like to be an INT blogger.
FINDING BOOKS IN HUNGARY
The official language of Hungary is Hungarian, and, on that note, the first thing you should note is that, based on the latest census results, Hungary’s population is under 10 million. That’s… definitely not a lot, and that does explain why there aren’t thousands of books being translated to Hungarian every year. And, well, you guys know that publishing is a business – most of the ones that do get translated are the hyped up novels… so, the variety is not the best. Also, absolutely no offense to translators, (FYI, I’m studying to be one, as well) but the quality of the translation is not always the best. With that being said, I do read translated works, just not as often as English ones.
I had a library card to the biggest, most prestigious library in Hungary. They have a fantastic collection of Hungarian books, and most of the time I was able to find whatever I was looking for. Now, they did have a small selection of English titles… and, well, no offense, but it was quite laughable. Y’all, they didn’t even have all the Twilight books, much less anything I was interested in. That said, they are a lovely library, and I am fully planning on going back one of these days.
Books in English.
I looked and looked, but I couldn’t find any recent data concerning the number of people speaking English in Hungary. I was able to dig up a 2012 survey that showcases that only about 20% of Hungarians claimed to speak English at that time. Now, I ain’t trying to be a meanie here, but we all know people can exaggerate tons when asked about their knowledge, so I’d say that number is probably smaller. And if you think about how many of those people are actually into reading (in English or otherwise), the number gets even smaller. So, obviously, not a huge demand for English books, equals not a lot of English books, simple as that.
In one of the biggest book-chains’ stores in the capital city, Budapest, there is one table’s worth of English language books – and you bet your ass it’s (mostly) filled with bestsellers like Fifty Shades, Harry Potter, John Green novels and Percy Jackson. The selection rarely changes, and the prices can be waaay higher than I’m comfortable paying at a non-independent bookstore. #sorrynotsorry
I’ve been to two “foreign language” bookshop in Hungary – meaning they had English, as well as other language novels. One of them, a used book store, was a-okay, but, with very few titles I was interested in, so I never actually went back. The other one, a tiny and adorable independent store is one I’ve been to various times. I’d say there were less than a hundred English books there, so it’s mostly bestsellers, or highly popular ones. Not the biggest variety, no, but I managed to pick up one or two books on each occasion whenever I shopped there. I remember getting More Than This by Patrick Ness here, just to mention an example. (Which, okay, yes, I still haven’t read, so wow, maybe it’s a good thing there aren’t any more English books in Hungary!? I obviously cannot even read the few books I can acquire around here.)
This story will probably sound so cheesy, but so far I’ve only had one (1) experience where I could browse for hours and hours between English-language books. About two years ago, my friend and I went to Vienna, Austria for a day, shortly before Christmas. The trip was organized by the school as a way to visit Christmas fairs, however, I obviously had to check for English language bookshops. And lo and behold, I discovered Thalia, specifically their shop on Mariahilfer Straße, which was supposed to have a wide range of English novels. We were both excited, but also didn’t have that high hopes?? BUT OMG, THAT BOOKSHOP WAS REALLY COOL! They didn’t only have many-many books in English, but also TONS OF Young Adult novels!! The happiness, y’all, it was amazing. Yes, I spent all my money on books. No, my mom was not happy about it. Ooops.
Where Do I Get Physical Copies From?
The Book Depository is my number one source, as it offers free shipping. I also use the German Amazon, because they ship for free if you spend more than 40 euros. I’ve also ordered from Better World Books before, although, I do feel like they are a tad bit too expensive for a used book store. *shrugs* There is also a Hungarian book shop that does offer some English novels on their website, and one that specializes in English books.
What Am I Missing Out On?
If you’re still reading this long as hell post than I just have a few more things to say, and then I’m finished, I swear. Readers, bloggers, bookish people who live in English speaking countries, please, listen to international readers when we are talking. Don’t say, “oh, you guys are whiny”. It’s not that we NEED the ARCs publisher now restrict more on Netgalley, it’s just that many of us feel let down by these changes. You put in a lot of passion, a lot of work into reviewing and, in a way, advertising these titles for years, and then it’s poof, they just take it away, like you don’t matter. That’s a hit.
And when people complain about giveaways? LISTEN AS WELL. I’ve never seen any international reader say that we “deserve” giveaways, or that we want authors, bloggers etc. to go bankrupt in sending us stuff. I legit have no idea why this is the narrative some US bloggers pushed. Smh. One thing I did see people say was to consider buying through The Book Depository if it’s a (pre-)order. That still doesn’t include everyone, but it does include many, and it probably costs little – if at all – more than ordering from Amazon. And, of course, if possible, if affordable, give back to INT readers, as well, by hosting giveaways where you’ll ship anywhere. Like I said, I’m incredibly lucky, I can order from various sources. Many cannot. Perhaps consider that before attacking people for “feeling entitled to ARCs” or giveaways.
Again, massive respect & thanks to Aliénor for organizing this whole thing! (you’re so welcome!!) And for all of you who are reading these posts, and considering international bloggers’ perspectives.