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! ♥
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.
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) ♥
- 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)
- 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)
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 😛
ANYWAY, we might be struggling, but life actually isn’t all that bad. Here are some of my solutions to the problems! 😀
- The Book Depository. Regardless 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) :
- 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 ♥
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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