30 May 2012

The World Ends on Wednesday #7 - Being an International Book Blogger

This post was inspired by Books, Biscuits and Tea's post 'Is Blogging Becoming a Popularity Contest'.

I'm proud to be an International book blogger, and I'll always be one, whether in the Netherlands or in Australia. But being an International book blogger, while having some positives, also has a whole lot of negatives. If you are an International book blogger, or thinking of starting a book blog and you live outside the US, I hope this post will be interesting and relevant to you.

Firstly, I have to say that this post is in no way intended to be derogatory towards US bloggers. It is more to give a greater understanding of the challenges we face being from outside the US, and to encourage people that think you can only be a successful book blogger if you are located in the US.

I'm the kind of person that likes to get the bad stuff out of the way first, so I'm starting with the negatives:

To Most Publishers, You Don't Exist

- Getting physical review copies if you live internationally are next to impossible. Firstly, the cost of international postage pretty much kills any motivation a publisher (and some authors) has to send you a physical book. Secondly, geographic rights mean that most books cannot be sent to you as they are only available for distribution by that publisher in the country where they will be published.

Giveaways Are Restricted

- Although this is not always the case, I estimate about 70% of book giveaways I see (for physical copies & swag) are restricted to US or US/Canada. If it is a blogger paying for the giveaway themselves (from their personal book collection), I totally get this. If I was going to do a giveaway for a book out of my own library, I'd be restricting it to Europe myself.

- Publisher sponsored giveaways are restricted by the same things that publisher ARCs/Review copies are.

You Can't Go to BEA, ALA, Book Signings, Conferences, Blogger Meet-Ups.

- Almost all book events are held in the US. And this is something I don't imagine would change much any time in the future.

- There are a lot of international book bloggers, but they are spread out all over the world, so planning a blogger meet-up is difficult (and expensive). For example, I know 4 other book bloggers in the Netherlands but as far as I am aware, none of us live in the same cities, so there'd still be travel involved for a blogger meet-up.

- Only BIG authors (think Lauren Oliver) do international book signings. Even then, they can't visit every major city in the world, and if you don't live near a major city, local authors are the only ones you're probably ever going to get the opportunity to meet - not that is necessarily a BAD thing!!!

Now, we need some positives!

You Stand Out From the Crowd

- Some of the bloggers I know the best are international bloggers. We are unique - it's much easier to remember the two bloggers you know from Germany, or the one you know from Tasmania than the 200 bloggers you follow in the US (and I can't discern them by state!).

- You can talk about unique bookish things - not so much in the Netherlands, but in Germany a lot of books are released with completely different covers than US/UK books which is a great talking point! There are also the titles of books that are completely changed to fit in locally - the story is the same but the only similarity on the cover is the author name.

- If you live in a country where English is not the native language (and unlike me, you can READ the local language), you can read books that other people can't!

You Can Get Some Review Books - But Do You Really Want Them All?

- E-books - there are some geographic restrictions on e-books for review, but as far as I've seen, this only affects a handful of local publishers. Macmillan, HarlequinTeen, HarperTeen, Crown, Egmont, Flux don't care I'm not from the US when I'm requesting review copies through NetGalley! (I know we don't love ebooks as much as paperbooks, but if you love a book enough, it's not about which medium you read it on!)

- You read what you want - do you really want dozens of books arriving unsolicited that you don't want to read? Sure your library would look prettier, but wouldn't you feel guilty about having all those books that you are probably never going to read that could have gone to someone that actually wanted them?

Giveaways Are Changing

- I participate in a lot of giveaway hops, and over the last six months I've seen a lot more bloggers choose to host International giveaways rather than US only. The Book Depository has opened up a whole new option to bloggers, and Amazon giftcards can be used by Kindle users worldwide (unless the book has geo-restrictions).

- Small swag giveaways are often open internationally - bookmarks can be put in a standard sized envelope and sent worldwide for only a couple of bucks.

And Then There's the Funny Stuff
- If you like to post about non-book related things, funny stories, strange local customs, you've got loads of material. One of things I got the most comments about was saying my favourite Dutch word (kokosnoot), on one of my giveaways. Kokosnoot revolution!

There you have it, my personal negatives and positives about being an International book blogger.  Are you international and have any positives to add?  Are you a US book blogger - what do you think about your international counterparts?


  1. Great topic! And now I want to know ... who's that Tasmanian book blogger!? Just teasing, hahaha!

    I'd like to add something regarding receiving review copies - yes, it is harder for non-US bloggers, though if you've established yourself in the book blogging world, then you should definitely give it a try with UK publishers if you happen to reside in Europe. I've already been blogging for a year when I first sent out review request to UK publishing houses. Many included me right away in their blogger lists and I now request books on a regular basis. Personally I haven't received unsolicited copies yet, and my contacts will ask me about whether certain books are of interest to me - this makes sense considering shipping costs, plus you keep your review piles better under control if you only request according to your personal taste and the time you have on your hands.

    Giveaway ... ah, yes ... so much has been said about that already and what really sets me off as of lately are those that give away Amazon GCs to US only. Come one, we can use them internationally too!!

    1. The Tasmanian book blogger is actually NOT me ;)

      To be honest, I rarely ask for books, but I've also heard that UK Publishers are open to European bloggers. I'm waiting until I've been around a bit longer before asking, but I should say to any International blogger - there's no harm in actually asking - you never know!

      I actually buy all my kindle books through Amazon.com, so I can certainly use the giftcards (European rights are connected to Amazon.com not .co.uk). And it's not difficult to also have a .co.uk account, just exchange USD to GBP!

  2. Kat you nailed it. That is exactly how I feel about this topic as well. Great post!
    We international book bloggers should try to see the positive things and we all blog because we love doing it but yeah, sometimes it sucks when I read about cool author sinings and stuff.

  3. This is a great post and I would put me somewhere in between. Let me explain.
    I'm German, sitting in Germany, blogging in English for the US market. But. I my friend and co-blogger who lives in the US lets me use her US mailing address. So, I can enter US giveaways and all these things. Also, we publishers send books to her.

    In fact, I never asked a publisher to send to Germany. I know myself how expensive this is since some books I'm dying to read my friend sends over to me. 1 book $15 shipping... So, the book has to be epic!

    The only ones that ever send to me personally was Macmillian, but just twice and not regularly.

    I don't ask, instead I am happy with eCopies. I love my eReaders so I'm actually more happy with an Ecopy. But, there more it stinks that Harper switched to Edelweiss and there changed already twice the person who's handeling the requests...

    I was at BEA last year and I go again this year, but this is not an option for everyone since it's really damn expensive. But, for me it's worth every cent because as you said. we don't get to see many awesome authors right?!??!

    That's the thing I miss most, Author signings... my friend lives in Chicago and every big and awesome author is coming to Chicago ... *sniffles*


    Anyway, I'm happy with the way it works for me right now and I do not distinguish so much from where a certain blogger is from. I just read their content and often realize later she's from somewhere else :)

    1. You're lucky to have someone in the US that can be your postbox!

      I could go to BEA if I really wanted to, but I'm saving madly for my move back to Australia - maybe one day I'll be able to go!

      I don't actively look to see where people are from - it's a nice surprise when I realise someone is close to me though!

  4. Yep, I do feel jealous when read about BEA for example :) Such a huge event and completely unreachable to European bloggers! and Kat, your blog is big enough to try the UK publishers (says someone who only contacted two so far :)) I'm dreading it myself.
    Don't start me on international giveaways as well! I'm frequently ranting about them anyway. It's actually cheaper for me to buy a book from TBD/Fishpond, than to post my own physical copy anywhere in Europe or worldwide, so I can understand US restriction for ARCs.

    1. Oh I HATE asking publishers for books! I've only ever done it once (and it did work out, so I shouldn't be scared!), and luckily I loved the book - but I think it's a good thing because we only ask for books we REALLY want.

      I completely understand the US restrictions for ARCs - I honestly would rather do a TBD giveaway than have to also pay exorbitant international postage!

  5. This is both sad and happy. I've been trying to do more international giveaways. I do that for follower appreciation, and for my book of the month!

    1. Hon, I completely understand why people can only have their giveaways restricted to the US, or Europe, or the UK. Who the f*ck do those postal companies think they are?! ;) Love my US chicas even if I can only spam their giveaways, not enter ;)

  6. Am I the only one who finds it really weird to be called an ''International'' blogger? How am I myself international? xD I know what people mean by it (i.e Not From the US) but it feels odd to me!

    Great post!! I used to be bothered by being ''international'' but now I don't even care. I have too many books as it is and don't actually have much desire to have 20 ARCs arriving in my door every week!

    And I too use my Kindle through Amazon.com so go all twitchy when I see the GCs only open to the US!

    1. I hate the term 'international' - we're all equal even if we live in Timbuktoo or Tasmania!

      It's never really bothered me, but I feel for people that really want a book to read and can't get hold of a copy.

  7. Excellent post! I don't really look at where people are from, so it's a nice surprise when I see that someone is from a place I've always wanted to visit! :)

    1. I don't always notice either, and then I go all :-O when I find out, especially if they are then near me :)

  8. Love this post! This pretty much sums up my feelings about being an "international" book blogger (I feel very cosmopolitan now... ;) ). When I first started reading book blogs, I loved finding those that were being written "nearby" (or, you know, anywhere in Europe), and although I don't notice so much now I do still like to stumble upon bloggers outside the US!

    And I don't think I will ever forget the word "kokosnoot"... :)



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