I read a ton of books published outside of the United States for work and for pleasure. Even with access to one of the largest university library systems in the world, though, getting these books can be a huge challenge. If the university doesn’t have it, doesn’t want to buy it, and can’t find an old college friend who could lend it, then what do you do? Wire huge sums of money to a bookstore abroad and wait for the steamship to bring it in six months later?
With e-books, we don’t have to do this anymore. Though some publishers and e-book stores still dutifully respect the borders of the nation-state for reasons that are beyond me (I want to give you money in exchange for this piece of information–why won’t you sell it to me?), more and more e-books are available for purchase and circulation outside the publishing country, and I am grateful for it.
Though I had to request his first book, The Family Law, through the university library and have it shipped there from overseas, Australian writer and humorist Benjamin Law’s second book is easily available through Amazon, the Kobo bookstore, Google Play, and the iTunes bookstore. Although I have not had the time to read through the entirety of Gaysia: Adventures in the Queer East***, this paragraph from the first chapter hints at good things to come:
I might have been Australian, but I was ethnically Asian too. For me, it was time to go back to my homelands, to reach out to my fellow Gaysians: the Homolaysians, the Bi-Mese, Laosbians and Shangdykes.
Yesterday, I encountered a very different kind of e-book from Asian Australia, this one for free. One Day, the companion coffee-table-style e-book to the SBS documentary Once Upon a Time in Cabramatta is available as a PDF or as an iPad app. The book includes photos, testimonies, and an illustrated history of the Sydney suburb’s past struggles with refugee resettlement, drug dealing, and gang violence.
The book is a legacy for the community, created by the community of Cabramatta.
Inspired by the series, this collective voice captures the spirit of Cabramatta and serves as a time capsule for future generations to read and share stories from the past, and understand the journey that has shaped their suburb.
I’ve found the iPad version difficult to navigate. The PDF provides the same content.
*** Full disclosure: This is an Amazon Associates link. If you click on this link and end up buying the book, I get a small cut of it.