The Struggle of an International Bookworm

SPARKLING LETTERS BOOK BLOG- The Struggle of an International Bookworm%2FBook Blogger.jpg

Hello everyone! ♥

From reading the title alone, you probably thought or expected this post to be some kind of response to the drama on book twitter last week. But NOPE, this is not what it is. I’m not going to talk about ‘serious’ stuffs like privileges, theft, or piracy. This is just a rant of MY struggles as an Indonesian bookworm/book blogger. In fact, I’ve had this post planned for weeks 😛 In case you haven’t noticed, it’s not that easy being an avid reader not living in US or other major countries. 

Brief introduction before we begin. Indonesia is the world’s largest archipelago located in South East Asia. We are surrounded by Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, and Indian & Pacific Oceans. We’re tropical islands and a bit famous of our tourism destination. You might have heard about the island of Bali? Go check it out if you haven’t 😛

Now we begin! ♥

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It’s Hard to Find Latest Releases with Affordable Price

In Indonesia, we have several giant chain stores that sell imported books like Kinokuniya, Periplus, Books & Beyond, and Times. Gramedia, our largest local bookstore, also sells imported books but only in selected outlets. It’s actually not that hard for me to find imported books for sale. But I live in a big city 40 minutes away from the capital, Jakarta. I could only imagine how much more difficult it is for people living in suburb/small towns.

However, new releases don’t always come on time. I remember almost crying at Kinokuniya because they didn’t have Empire of Storms and A Torch Against the Night yet. That was disappointing because I thought they already had it and I went there thinking I’d be reading EoS/ATATN on my way home.

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But the weird thing is, sometimes some of them come on time and there was no way to tell which books would come on time and which wouldn’t. Gemina and Holding Up the Universe were available a day before their official release dates but A Darker Shade of Magic and Nevernight still aren’t available until now. Some books don’t even make it to our bookstores at all. This is confusing! I mean, if I know a book isn’t gonna come on time (or at all), I’ll order it from TBD, but it’s annoying every time I already place my order, the book becomes available.

Most of the time, they are expensive! I know 10USD might seem small, but convert it to local currency and wow! They’re like 2.5 times more expensive than the expensive local books :’) they get cheaper over time though…

Shipping Cost is A Lot More Expensive than the Book Itself

I’ve always wanted to buy books from amazon. They have various collections from new books to old ones, brand new to used ones. Some of the books are a lot cheaper on Amazon than TBD so I was excited. I planned to buy this book (don’t remember the title) and it was only 7USD! I checked the shipping cost to Indonesia and it was 30USD. Hahaha… abort mission. It’s too ridiculous to even consider it :’)

So yes, free shipping worldwide is a miracle for us. Bless TBD, which brings us to point number 3

Shipping Takes Forever

I am so, so grateful for TBD free shipping policy, but I’m not gonna lie that the shipping takes so long! The policy said 7-10 days of weekdays delivery worldwide. 10 week days = 14 days in total. I thought… ok, I could live with 2 weeks. But no, it takes AT LEAST 3 weeks for the book to arrive (most of the time even more). Not to mention TBD always ships the items separately.

I once ordered End of Days and A Court of Thorns and Roses at the same time. Obviously they shipped it separately. My copy of End of Days arrived a month later, but my copy of ACOTAR didn’t arrive yet. I emailed the customer service and they sent me another copy. Both books eventually arrived 3 months after my initial purchase </3

The worst thing is that they don’t provide tracking number so I couldn’t check the shipping progress. I wish TBD would apply this policy in the future though.

It’s More Difficult to Receive Free Books/ARCs

Again, the issue of shipping. All authors/publishers who contact me for review request only offer ebooks. I know a lot of you receive physical copies, but it’s not the case with me. I, of course, understand that international shipping could be time and cost consuming, especially for indie authors and smaller publishers, but that doesn’t change the fact that I do want physical books 😛

Library System is Significantly Different

I am so jealous of everyone who could borrow their favorite books from library! </3 I don’t know if this happens on other countries, but in my country, libraries are kind of rare. Sure we have public library, school library, and several independent libraries, but they only provide generic and mostly old books. Some of them are so old and dusty. They don’t even provide the latest local books, let alone imported ones 😦 there’s no way in my world I could ever ‘request’ for a new release on the library.

I think the purpose of our libraries are more educational than recreational, because they did help me finish my thesis. Governments, NGOs, and some other related institutions are working on improving the library sistem, so I hope it will get better soon.

I Can’t Recommend Local Books to Fellow Book Bloggers

This is probably the most painful of all. I buy imported books more often than locals, but that doesn’t mean I don’t read local books. There are A LOT of amazing local books that I want to recommend, but I can’t because 1) language 2) availability and 3) shipping. Like, even if they have been translated to English, they’re not available everywhere.

But psst… here are my favorite local books. All of these have been translated to English and I’ll also provide links to Amazon, in case you want to check them out (or even buy them) ♥

  1. Supernova by Dee Lestari. This is my favorite series from Indonesia. It has everything, magical realism, genius plot, unpredictable twists, unconventional love stories, and major elements of diversity! This series reminds me of The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater. Actually, The Raven Cycle reminds me of Supernova 😛 this is definitely worth checking out 😀 (Amazon)
  2. Pulang by Leila Chudori. Pulang a.k.a Home is a story of Indonesian political exiles living in France. It takes place during the Suharto’s regime (1967-1998). It’s so heartbreaking and emotional and I really hope more people would read this book! (Amazon)

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I still have A LOT but they haven’t been translated to English so there would be no use recommending them :’) but in case you’re interested, feel free to message me and I’ll give you a bunch of great recommendations 😛

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ANYWAY, we might be struggling, but life actually isn’t all that bad. Here are some of my solutions to the problems! 😀

  • The Book DepositoryRegardless of its shipping time, TBD is still a life safer. Most of my imported books are from TBD and they’re also cheap (+a lot of discounts as well). Plus the customer services are all so nice and accommodating. It’s unfortunate that they don’t ship to all countries in the world. Pro tips: don’t buy latest release or books you want to read immediately from TBD. By the time your order arrives, local bookstore would have had them anyway.
  • Local online stores. For some reasons, online stores always have the books way earlier than their offline stores. Which is weird. I purchased my copy of Crooked Kingdom from Books & Beyond online store, but the offline store still hasn’t had it until now. My go-to online bookstore (Indonesia) :
    • Books & Beyond. Affordable price, fast response, fast shipping time.
    • Periplus. More complete collections, various price, various shipping time.
    • Open Trolley. Affordable prices, more complete collections, longer shipping time.
  • EBOOK!! Ebooks are life savior ♥♥♥ I do prefer physical books, but I literally wouldn’t read this much if it wasn’t for ebooks.
  • Don’t forget to buy local books as well! International books might be more compelling, but that doesn’t mean we should just ignore local books. There are a lot of amazing local authors who write fabulous books. And chances are, they’re more affordable and more available. We should absolutely support & promote them too ♥

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Well those are my struggles as an Indonesian book worm/book blogger. To you fellow international bloggers, do you ever feel the same? Do you have any other struggles beside the ones I listed above? What do you do to overcome them? Lastly, what are your favorite local books that you’ve always wanted to recommend? I’d love to hear your thoughts! ♥

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45 thoughts on “The Struggle of an International Bookworm

  1. I’m in aus so our bookstores are pretty well stocked on new releases but that saying we still have about a 2 weeks difference in release times + the books are more expensive here as well and its rare to find a hard cover 🙂 In saying that though Books Depository is a life saver even though shipping times can seriously suck, the free shipping policy makes up for it 😄

    I found a new site called biblio and not sure if it ships to you but I ended up getting 19 books for $130 inc shipping they are in the UK though so shipping prices can be really good or really bad depending on what your looking for but there are some awesome savings on there 😀

    Great post ! xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ahhh yes and hardcovers are always A LOT more expensive than paperbacks! I mean, it’s given but it seems like in US the price difference isn’t that significant :’) totally sucks but AT LEAST it’s free so we can’t really complain hahaha 😛 But isn’t TBD also ships from Aus?

      I’ve never heard of it but I’ll definitely check it out! Who knows maybe they ship to Indonesia *fingers crossed* and 19 books sound like a big haul hahaha thank you! ❤

      Like

  2. Living in India, I pretty much have the same struggles, except for the online shopping ones. TBD doesn’t ship in India, but Amazon India is absolutely amazing, it has almost every international as well as Indian book you could think of, the shipping is either free or quite less and the book(s) ship within a week, at the most. I swear, if it wasn’t for Amazon, I wouldn’t have this many books 😅 But every other point you mentioned, I deal with it too. We don’t have a lot of big bookstores like BooksAMillion, Barnes and Nobles etc. We just have Crossword and it is very selectively stocked in international releases. Getting books from publishers is difficult, and even though most big publishers have an outlet in India too, some of the releases are postponed here. And yeah, libraries! We hardly have any good libraries here 😭 I’m so jealous of people having access to well-stocked libraries! Also, there are hardly any book subscription boxes in India, and the international ones don’t ship here (even if they do, the prices are ridiculous in our currency). One final struggle I feel, living here, is not being able to attend author signings and bookish events. We don’t have them at all here, and even if we do, it’s nothing as good as the ones held around the world.

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    • Ohhh why doesn’t TBD ship to India?? India is a large country though 😦 but at least there is Amazon without its crazy shipping cost hahaha yessss I wish we have Barnes&Nobles or even Target :’)

      Me too OMGGG I wish our libraries were more well stocked! I mean, I know it’s a long shot because it’s not that ‘urgent’ to have the latest YA release here but I’m still hoping 😛

      There are a couple of subscription boxes in Indonesia (I subscribed to one of them) but the books are… um… different. It’s obviously because we don’t get new release on time so the books on the subscription boxes are rather old. Or mostly locals. I desperately want to try OwlCrate but just thinking about the shipping cost made me shudder </3 ahh really? That's bummer! We once had Sarah J Maas here and I missed it and who knows when she'll come back 😦

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I live in Australia which sounds like it’s slightly better than Indonesia but it still is so difficult not living in the US or UK. I am grateful we have relatively good bookstores and libraries but it still can be so hard locating some books and there are never any events on in my city since I am in Western Australia and have a much smaller city. Shipping is also so expensive if i get anything from outside Australia so there is a lot of bookish merch that i never buy and i only really get books from TBD but shipping takes for ages as well. Hopefully things will slowly improve over the next few years.

    Liked by 1 person

    • YESSS international shipping is the worst it’s either expensive or takes forever :’) but I thought TBD also ships from Aus, doesn’t that mean you could receive the book sooner? Yes I desperately hope so, it’s so difficult to keep up with release date lately 😦 thank you for reading! ❤

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  4. I would say “I feel you” but I guess that sentence is not enough HAHA. I never bought online because I kinda don’t trust them? (weird I know) But I think I would try one soon! Books & Beyond is definitely the cheapest, online or offline, but their collection is smaller compared to other stores! Do you know paperclip now selling imported books too? With price that’s close to Gramedia’s of course (read=too expensive).

    And agree, the library here sucks. There are barely any “modern” books, and when there are, it’s limited to teenlit. I don’t hate teenlit, it’s just… I’m already over it. My school library has the whole supernova series, but only one copy so I had never been able to borrow it (12 grade was hell you know).

    Another struggle, I think, is the non-existence of special editions. And when there is, it’s like 3x more expensive than normal. *shudders*

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    • YEAHHHH I know you feel me!! Hahaha :’) I get it, I’m extremely selective when it comes to online shopping and only willing to try those I deemed trust worthy so…. you could say my recs are legit 😛 Try books & beyond & periplus online, they’re easy to contact and periplus even provides tracking number 😀

      Totally!! And yes their collections aren’t complete, but at least the online stores are better than their offline counterparts 😛 ahh really? The last time I visited Paperclip there was only local books haha yesss Gramedia is expensive 😦 but it’s the nearest one from my house so I kinda don’t have choice 😛

      YES! Even hardbacks are ridiculously super expensive!! </3

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  5. Thank you for this wonderful post – I’m in Australia, and I think my compatriots above have covered my points. I mainly buy e-books and audio books. Thank you for the recommendations too – I’m going to be embarking on a reading around the world challenge – I’ve put ‘Pulang’ on my list for Indonesia. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank YOU! ❤ Yesss I thought Australia had it so much better than we did here but it seemed like you guys have your own struggles 🙂 AHHHH I'm so excited you want to read Pulang!! I read the original version so I don't know if the translated version would be as good, but I really, really hope you enjoy it! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Living in the USA, I never realized it was hard for some people in other countries to get books! Thank you for this post because it really opened my eyes. However, I’m really glad you have TBD to find books! I used it for the first time a few weeks ago and was pretty pleased with it 🙂
    Also I’m excited to check out the local books you mentioned! I’d love to see more posts about local books even if we can always get them 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ohhh really? Well I hope more people would be aware of it 🙂 and you’re so welcome! ❤ yessss TBD is so great, I remember freaking out over excitement the first time I discovered about it. I mean, free shipping? YES PLEASE 😛 yayyy I was planning to write a post about my favorite local books and where to get them so I'll probably post it next month 🙂

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  7. I recently posted about this too! Although my woes are a lot different to you because I live in England and I can get mostly every book I want here. Now my problems feel less important…

    I can’t imagine having to deal with all of this! I can’t believe the libraries over there don’t offer recreational reading! Although over here the library system is still pretty bad compared to my home in New Zealand. ~I find that really sad they don’t offer that kind of support.

    That really sucks they also don’t offer a lot of new releases on time as well. That would do my head in. Although I buy my books off of amazon as ebooks, so I don’t actually have to wait for them to arrive to my door. Well except Gemina. I ordered Gemina through TBD because I thought it would be cheaper, but it still hasn’t arrived… It’s only a week since it was released though so it’s not too long.

    I really hope your country improves on offering the books you want to read! This sounds so hard!

    Jordon @ Simply Adrift

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    • They do offer recreational readings but most are for children and old releases, they really don’t keep up with release date :’) ahh really? I don’t know about it. I assumed England has great systems for everything 😛 I ordered Gemina online too because I want the hardbacks and the ones available here are the paperbacks, it’s still on its way but it should arrive soon 😀 I really hope so too!

      Like

  8. Brilliant post, Puput. I always find it so interesting to read about others experiences. I feel like it really helps make us more empathetic and is a great reminder that the world isn’t the same for everyone.

    I live in the middle of nowhere in Australia so TBD takes ages to ship here too. I’m lucky enough to have access to most new releases, but they’re always pretty pricey. Being in a small town my library is limited too – they don’t order in books ect.

    Shipping is a nightmare. There’s so much awesome stuff I want on Etsy but the shipping costs more than the product and I can never buy any of those really cool preorder packages for books or music.

    It also sucks when you see a cool giveaway and it’s US only 😅

    I really wish everyone had easier access to books and others could be more understand to everyone’s situations!

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    • Thank you Lauren! ❤ I actually didn't plan it to be an eye-opening post or something just like I said it was a rant but the responses I got are pretty great! Turned out a lot of people don't mean to be condescending or anything but they just simply don't know the bookish situation in other countries so yeah I'm pretty happy with this post 😛

      Yeeeessss I could never order those pretty bookish candles I so desperately want because shipping is indeed nightmare 😦 I hope so too! Thank you for your concern ❤

      Like

  9. Last week’s episode of What Should I Read Next (podcast by Anne Bogel of Modern Mrs Darcy) dealt with this same issue. Her guest lives in Columbia, and she has the same problems with finding books, unless she gets the Kindle version. That must be so hard! Thank you for the reminder of how lucky I am to live in the U.S.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. This post was SO RELATABLE. I lived in South Africa for 9 years of my life. I moved to the U.S just under two years ago, so I have seen both sides. When I walked into a library here in the US, I was speechless. SPEECHLESS. I didn’t know that libraries could have YA books! In South Africa, like you said, all the books were either educational, or for little kids.
    I was lucky enough to live near a big city, and was able to go to bookstores, but books were ridiculously expensive. New releases took months before arriving. We couldn’t order books from out of the country on things like Book Depository or Amazon, because mailmen were always on strike, or were stealing international packages.
    Honestly, it’s just so great to talk about these problems, that are sometimes not acknowledged or just plain ignored. I’m thankful that I live in the U.S now, and have virtually unlimited access to whatever I want to read, but it still sucks that readers in South Africa or other developing countries don’t have that kind of access. Really great discussion!

    Liked by 1 person

    • AHHH thank you ❤ IKR!! I never thought libraries could have new YA books until I joined the bookish community hahaha oh did they really steal the packages? That's… bad 😦 My mail always comes although sometimes months late :')

      Me too, I'm glad this discussion has been useful to most people! I hope the reading/library system in all over the world would improve soon 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Oh my gosh, what a true post! I am having the affordable price and taking forever to ship problem right now! I love paperbacks and I’m trying to grow my bookshelf instead of my kindle but it’s so hard because paperback is so much more expensive! Grrr lol. Love this post!

    Liked by 1 person

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  17. I live in the US, but I have a huge amount of respect for international book bloggers because of the sheer number of hoops they have to jump through to obtain ARCs and new releases! That’s commitment! You guys are awesome. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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