When I first discovered LGBT fiction it was through the internet and fanfiction. It was readily available there, if you knew where to look for it, but sadly the same could not be said for original fiction. Wanting to read more of what I'd loved online, I went hunting for hardcopy stories with original characters. Local stores gave me no joy at all, and a hunt through one of the big bookstore chains on one of my visits to Auckland didn't do much better. Of this 3 storey shop, I managed to find half a shelf of LGBT fiction, most of it being slim volumes priced at $50 each plus.
A friend from the States sent me some books in a care package by authors I didn't know existed. I devoured them, and started looking at Amazon and the like as I was beginning to realise that they were going to be my only source for such things, although I'd be paying as much in postage as I would for the books. On a whim I searched the library catalogue and to my surprise found several books, but still not that much.
Enter my friend again who pointed me in the direction of ebooks and recommended some of her favourite authors. I haven't looked back.
Today I am finding LGBT fiction more accessible but on the whole it's through the internet, whether Book Depository (with its overseas prices and free international postage), or Amazon, although a local online store, Mighty Ape, has a good stock although at high NZ prices. NZ book prices are very high with an average paperback selling for $25-$30NZ. Trade paperbacks are up around the $40 mark. Ebooks are wonderful as they are also postage free and I can often buy direct from publishers' websites, although if I love an author I still want to collect their stories in hardcopy.
The local library too, is expanding its LGBT collection, although very slowly. I've made several requests to purchase titles, and my own books are on the shelf there which makes me happy. I was also pleased to find books by authors such as Charlie Cochrane, Ruth Sims, Sean Kennedy, Josh Lanyon, and Jordan Castillo Price appearing on the catalogue over the past eighteen months. Not as much since that influx but it's a good start.
And, on a slight digression, the other thing I've been very impressed about in regard to the local library is that they have a really good selection of LGBT DVDs.
I'm hoping that the event of ePukapuka, which has introduced ebooks into New Zealand libraries, will bring with it accessibility of LGBT titles to readers who might be persuaded to try something new.