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Old 12-14-2010, 07:24 AM   #1
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Are you region-ist?

I started a thread about Kylie Chan's fantasy series, Dark Heavens. Other than seeing that 75 people have viewed it, there have been no replies. This, I suppose, means that there are not many regulars on that forum that have read her books. This led me to wonder about how many people consider the region of the author when selecting new books?

I have to admit that it does come into my consideration. When we were shopping for books last Christmas we had a number of new authors (new to us) that we considered trying. Kylie Chan's book, White Tiger, got through to the final selection and one of the factors that I considered was that she was Australian. This is not say that I would buy anything just because it is about Australia or has an Australian author, but when it comes down to two books of equal interest, and I can't afford both, then the one relating to Australia in some way probably wins out. There are, after all, many books out there and you have to filter the list somehow. Reviews play a part, the blurb plays a part, the cover plays a part, even the title and cover art plays a part in attracting your attention ... well, to me, the region - either of the story or the author - also plays a part.

I specifically asked about "region" rather than nationality because I am not sure country is exactly what I mean here. Australia has a pretty small population, so it seems to me that a proper comparison here could be whether, in America (for example), you were more inclined to buy books about or by authors from your home state? Or is that taking this idea too far?


One of the things that makes this a potentially interesting question, is why it should be so? In the case of Kylie Chan's books they are a fantasy series set (mostly) in present day Hong Kong. So if my interest is fantasy or science fiction (or pretty much anything except perhaps historical fiction or locale-specific non-fiction), then why should I care where the author came from? I can read English or American with equal facility so there is no obstacle there - I barely even notice.

Of course there are artificial geographical restrictions these days with e-books, and in the past with where books were actually distributed. (I was always fascinated by the idea that books had to have new covers etc to be sold in America.) Comments on this aspect could be interesting too, but mainly I am curious about people's own preferences.
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Old 12-14-2010, 08:02 AM   #2
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No, I'm not. I don't know the nationality of many of the authors of my books, and I really don't care.

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Originally Posted by gmw View Post
So if my interest is fantasy or science fiction (or pretty much anything except perhaps historical fiction or locale-specific non-fiction), then why should I care where the author came from?
I read some historical fiction, and don't see any difference between that and other genres of fiction.

Some locale-specific non-fiction might benefit from a local author, who would potentially have a greater knowledge and understanding of the area, but it's certainly not certain that a local author would be better than a non-local author who did plenty of research.
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Old 12-14-2010, 08:08 AM   #3
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I do have a tag in Calibre for books I know are Canadian, but that's more the lit major in me who likes to sort and categorize I do follow the awards, like the Giller and Booker, and some of those authors are Canadian but if the book does not interest me, the nationality of the author does not factor in.

I suppose the only way I am 'region-ist' is when I read an article on how Google or B&N or some other America-only company is going to be Number One and Win the Ebook War or some such nonsense, and then I laugh because the author of the article clearly does not realize how many non-American book customers there are and how ALL of them shop at other stores...
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Old 12-14-2010, 08:17 AM   #4
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I don't know whether I'm region-ist or not, about English books.
But my reading history tells me I've enjoyed British SF more than American...

So, when I start with a new author, I'm slightly biased if (s)he's American...

:-)
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Old 12-14-2010, 08:44 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gmw View Post
... and one of the factors that I considered was that she was Australian.
Yeah, I'm region-ist, in that if I have a choice between several different books to read, I'll make an effort to read more works by Australian authors, having read very little so far, nor have I read any of the local heavyweights such as Tim Winton, Kate Grenville, Peter Carey, etc. Otherwise I don't really care about the origins of the author when it comes to fiction. I would care more if the work in question is non-fiction.

As an aside, thanks for making the Kylie Chan thread. I've seen those books before in many stores, but haven't paid much attention to them probably because to me the covers have:

Quote:
maybe more of a feeling of the mysterious east or something (remember the music and the "back in China" scenes from the old Kung Fu television series?).
Your review as well as others on Amazon have convinced me however that these books seem to move beyond the usual cliches associated with the East, so I've just nabbed the first book off Kobo. Thanks.
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Old 12-14-2010, 08:48 AM   #6
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I make an effort to read Canadian literature. I immigrated to Canada about a decade ago and I am enjoying getting to know my adopted country in this way. I probably added it on top of my existing reading habits and just read more. I look for compelling stories and writing that takes me along into the world the author constructs by making the characters come alive. Location and nationality doesn't matter.
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Old 12-14-2010, 08:51 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ficbot View Post
I do have a tag in Calibre for books I know are Canadian, but that's more the lit major in me who likes to sort and categorize I do follow the awards, like the Giller and Booker, and some of those authors are Canadian but if the book does not interest me, the nationality of the author does not factor in.

I suppose the only way I am 'region-ist' is when I read an article on how Google or B&N or some other America-only company is going to be Number One and Win the Ebook War or some such nonsense, and then I laugh because the author of the article clearly does not realize how many non-American book customers there are and how ALL of them shop at other stores...
Ditto for me.
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Old 12-14-2010, 08:53 AM   #8
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What type of books does she publish? What's her writing style like? The answers to these questions deermine if I will read her books or not, has nothing to do with her nationality at all. At the moment I am looking for political thrillers, so unless she writes novels about scandals within her native government its a no go for me.
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Old 12-14-2010, 09:15 AM   #9
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If I can detect regionalism, or culture-ism, or gender-ism, then I'm gone, another victim in the culture wars.

Who, now, uses solecism? Perhaps this is at the root of my difficulties reading fiction, my inability to suspend disbelief and empathize with any of the characters.
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Old 12-14-2010, 09:45 AM   #10
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A curious mix of reactions so far.

Quote:
Originally Posted by avantman42 View Post
No, I'm not. I don't know the nationality of many of the authors of my books, and I really don't care. ...
This could almost make up a topic on its own. I have pretty much always read the author's foreword or afterword (if any), and these days I often look up the author on Wikipedia or their website (if any). One of the reasons why I do this is to find out what else they've written, but in addition I find myself interested in who would write such a book and what they have to say about what they have written. ... Strange the habits we can pick up over time.

Quote:
Originally Posted by viviena View Post
... As an aside, thanks for making the Kylie Chan thread. ... I've just nabbed the first book off Kobo. Thanks.
I hope you enjoy it. Please do add to that thread once you've read it - the thread could do with some filling out.

You mentioned our local heavyweights: I had more luck with David Malouf, who sort of fits into the same category I think. Anyway, I did enjoy The Conversations At Curlow Creek and have been meaning to try some more of his. (But it's probably still a matter of: only if you're into that sort of thing.)
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Old 12-14-2010, 10:04 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ficbot View Post
I suppose the only way I am 'region-ist' is when I read an article on how Google or B&N or some other America-only company is going to be Number One and Win the Ebook War or some such nonsense, and then I laugh because the author of the article clearly does not realize how many non-American book customers there are and how ALL of them shop at other stores...
Very true, though that's true of pretty much everything, not just e-books.

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This could almost make up a topic on its own. I have pretty much always read the author's foreword or afterword (if any), and these days I often look up the author on Wikipedia or their website (if any).
I'll read a foreword and/or afterword if they're present, but it's very rare that it occurs to me to look the author up on Wikipedia or their website. Each to their own, I guess.
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Old 12-14-2010, 10:07 AM   #12
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I mainly read SF&F. About a year ago, I realised that I didn't even know if there were any Irish Science Fiction & Fantasy authors. So I started asking around at local bookshops and online. Turns out we have a small but talented pool of authors. Just last night I started Celine Kiernan's The Poison Throne - and finished it at 4am

I'm telling myself that every Irish book I buy is helping the country dig itself out of the Recession. It's my patriotic duty to buy and read as much as possible!
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Old 12-14-2010, 10:22 AM   #13
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Nope. As with avantman42, I usually don't know where authors come from (I do know they're not Dutch, as I generally read English books...)

I usually pick books by reading a distract and looking at the cover...
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Old 12-14-2010, 02:55 PM   #14
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I don't ever pay attention until I notice phrasing in the book that is unusual to me, then I usually check the author's nationality out of curiosity. Really, it doesn't make much of a difference to me. I'm flexible!
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Old 12-14-2010, 03:06 PM   #15
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Quote:
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No, I'm not. I don't know the nationality of many of the authors of my books, and I really don't care.
Ditto...
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