Originally posted on Book Lovers Inc. in January 2010.
When I was growing up and living in the States, I had plenty of things to read all the time. My family lived in an area with good public libraries, well-stocked with classics and the latest popular fiction titles. If not, there was an excellent Barnes and Noble several blocks away. The neighborhood also had used bookstores, and I had plenty of friends who I swapped books with.
Everything changed when I moved to Japan.
First, mass market paperbacks cost around 1,200 yen / each here. That’s a little over $12 US. If I don’t want to buy from the local sellers, I can try Amazon.com, but the shipping is hideously expensive and s-l-o-w.
Second, there aren’t any decent public libraries, at least not in English. There’s a so-so one not too far from my place, but its collection depends solely on donations. So it’s virtually impossible to get the latest releases through there.
Third, used bookstores? Well, there’s one, but again, UBS are only as good as the selection available. Let’s just say that I don’t bother anymore. And the friends Hero Material and I have don’t read the kind of stuff I like, so it’s hard to swap books with them.
Finally, the book giveaways, etc. that you see on the web? They’re almost always for the people living in the States or Canada. So they don’t apply to readers like me, despite the fact that it’s harder and more expensive to get books overseas.
So for the first couple of years, I’d stock up whenever I flew to the States. It wasn’t uncommon for me to spend over $400 on books and other reading materials and haul them trans-Pacific.
The result of all this was that I had to pay full cover price plus international shipping on books I wanted to read, and I became increasingly selective about the titles I bought because I didn’t want to spend all that money on something that may end up as a DNF. In addition, most authors got fewer chances with me because I didn’t buy any subsequent works unless I was really satisfied with their first (i.e., it got a 4- or 5-star rating from me).
These days, online retailers such as BookDepository and Amazon.co.jp sell books at a reasonable price to overseas customers. But I’m still conservative about my purchasing decisions. I can’t afford to gamble with my book budget. (This is why I think it’s very short-sighted when some authors advocate that readers buy new all the time.)
Thankfully, readers aren’t shy about talking about titles they love and hate. So I spend my hard-earned money on books based on word of mouth and recommendations from trusted readers and friends. There are generous writers and bloggers who sponsor fabulous contests for everyone, including international readers. You know who you are. You have my eternal gratitude. I’ve found some fabulous new-to-me authors that way and bought their works new. I also try to do my share. I donate my books to the local English library and/or give them away to anyone who is interested in reading them.
So I end this post with question for all of you: What authors and/or titles do you consider worthy of buying new?
Either answer the question or leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of Devil Falls written under my contemporary romance pseudonym Angelle Trieste. I’ll ask a member of Book Lovers Inc. to select a winner on Tuesday February 2nd. The giveaway is open to everyone regardless of where you live.
About Nadia: Romance writer Nadia Lee blends elements of paranormal, fantasy and science fiction into her works. A former management consultant, she has lived in four different countries and speaks 2.5 languages. Since she understands how expensive it can be to find a good read, she has made a paranormal romance novella, A Happily Ever After of Her Own, available for free at http://www.nadialee.net/goodies/hea/.
To learn more about Nadia, visit www.nadialee.net.