News

The book flood before Christmas / "Jólabókaflóðið"

This great boost in sales and publications around Christmas, fueled by the Icelandic tradition of buying books for Christmas gifts, is what sustains Iceland's vibrant publishing scene. 

5.12.2013


The majority of Icelandic book titles are published in October and November. The result is that between then and Christmas, the media is inundated with coverage and advertisements on books, and a flurry of readings takes place in bookstores, cafés, bars, libraries, schools and local businesses all around the country. (For example, it is popular to book an author reading for the Christmas celebrations of Icelandic work places.)

The deluge of Christmas books comes to a head in the final weeks before Christmas, when all books are in place in the stores, and the publishers and authors wait in nail-biting apprehension to see how their works will fair in the great affair. This great boost in sales and publications around Christmas, fueled by the Icelandic tradition of buying books for Christmas gifts, is what sustains Iceland's vibrant publishing scene. Most Icelanders receive a book for Christmas, settling into bed at the end of Christmas Eve (which, rather than Christmas Day, is when Icelanders open their presents) with a brand-new book.

Click here for a video showing the book flood before Christmas from the point of view of the bookseller. (Video made by Sagenhaftes Island / Fabulous Island November 2011.)

Click here for a video showing the book flood before Christmas from the printing houses' viewpoint.


Iceland's guide to the literary year arrives


         

Each year, in November, Bókatíðindi, a nearly exhaustive overview of the year's printed publications, is distributed in roughly 125,000 copies and delivered into every home in Iceland. Bókatíðindi, in its present form, was first published in 1983, making this its 30th anniversary. To many Icelanders, the catalog is an indispensable part of Christmas preparations, with a good chunk of time often spent on leafing through its pages, mulling over which books to buy for friends and relatives, or in no less measure, constructing Christmas wishlists of one's own. More than 100 Icelandic entities publish books every year, and this year over 700 new titles are registered for the catalog. Only 1 title in 3 is a translation, meaning that the vast majority is made up of original Icelandic material. Click here for an electronic version of Bókatíðindi (Icelandic only).


The Reykjavík Book Fair


The third Reykjavík Book Fair took place in late November, at the Reykjavík City Hall. At the event Icelandic publishers presented their Christmas publications to the public, and there was an ongoing schedule of literary events for all age groups. The Reykjavík Book Fair is organized by the Icelandic Publishers' Association and Reykjavík – UNESCO City of Literature.

Author reading for children in Reykjavik City Hall.

Discussions with authors at Reykjavik City Council's
 meeting hall.


Senda grein