Funding for Publishers May Lead to Drop in Book Prices

icelandic books

Minister of Education Lilja Alfreðsdóttir says she expects that the price of books in Iceland will decrease as publishers receive more grant funding from the government, RÚV reports. Grant funding for publishers is part of the ministry’s comprehensive action plan to promote the Icelandic language.

The minister presented this plan at the Vigdís Finnbogadóttir Institute on Thursday. The plan is divided into several main areas of focus, including strengthening the book publishing industry, media, and Icelandic in the digital realm. The minister set forth 22 resolutions to help put this plan into action, including the promotion of Icelandic language education, as well as an increase in Icelandic-language cultural materials.

Starting in 2019, an annual amount of ISK 400 million will be invested in grants for Icelandic book publishers. It is the first time that funds of this magnitude have been invested in the local publishing industry.

Last year, the Ministry of Education submitted a proposal to parliament to abolish VAT on books, but this initiative failed to pass. She hopes, however, that the grant funding will encourage publishers to drop book prices on their own, even though they are not required to drop their prices in order to receive state funding. “It is in their hands but I think it’s imperative that they honor these measures [the ministry’s action plan] into account and take them into account.”

“I just trust that they will make sensible decisions where [prices] are concerned.”

President Encounters a Familiar Face on East Iceland Visit

President Gudni Th. Jóhannesson encountered a familiar face on his latest visit to East Iceland: his own. RÚV reports that during a tour of the arboretum in the Hallormsstaður National Forest, the president and First Lady Eliza Reid were not only shown some of the forest’s oldest and most majestic tree specimens, but also a partially completed bust of the president himself.

The bust was carved from a tree stump by the Norwegian chainsaw artist Arna Askeland. The story goes that Arna was at the arboretum on the day the president was elected—June 25, 2016—and decided to create a bust of Guðni when it appeared certain that he would be Iceland’s next president. Unfortunately, he ran out of time before completing the bust and told the forest rangers that he’d need two additional hours to finish it.

Two years later, the bust has still not been finished and mushrooms have sprouted on it, but it has remained in the care of the Hallormsstaður forest rangers. And for his part, the president seemed quite pleased with the bust, finished or not. “Time passes and the years progress and so will be the fate of they who hold the presidency,” he remarked. “There are busts of former presidents at Bassastaðir [the presidential residency]. As it stands, there’s no need to rush into anything: here’s mine done.”

Bláfjöll Mountain Earthquake Felt in Reykjavík

An earthquake measuring 4.1 on the Richter scale occurred on Thursday night at 8:17 pm, RÚV reports.

The earthquake took place 6.4 kilometers [3.98 miles] south of the Bláfjöll mountains and was followed by two smaller ones, but no further tremors had been reported by the Icelandic Met Office at time of writing. The Bláfjöll mountains are only half an hour away from Reykjavík by car; therefore, many people in the capital felt the earthquake.

The Met Office’s report on the event notes that the last earthquake near the Bláfjöll Mountains took place on June 17, 2000 and measured 5.0.