Pre-Christmas book sales are up by 30% in Iceland compared to the same time last year, RÚV reports. Giving books as Christmas presents is a long-standing Icelandic tradition, and it looks like that tradition is not going to disappear any time soon. One Icelandic printing company has acquired equipment making it possible to produce hardcovers in the country for the first time in three years.
Icelanders have a long-standing tradition of giving books as Christmas presents. Publishers have supported this trend for decades with a flurry of new books released in the months leading up to Christmas. This surge in new titles is known as Jólabókaflóðið or the Christmas Book Flood. As the nation flocks to bookstores, the period is not only one of increased literary and cultural discussion – it’s also financially crucial for many publishers, who rely on sales during the flood to stay afloat.
Perfect Conditions for Reading Books
Heiðar Ingi Svansson, Chairman of The Icelandic Publishers Association, says many factors explain the recent jump in sales. “Of course very diverse and good publishing to begin with. I think that matters.” Statistics do show that publishing seems to be growing and diversifying in Iceland. “And the conditions we are living with are of course perfect conditions for reading books.” Heiðar says the Nordic noir books of authors Arnaldur Indriðason and Yrsa Sigurðardóttir are selling well as usual, but children’s literature is also flying off the shelves.
Possible to Reprint Locally
Printing company Prentmet Oddi recently purchased a hardcover machine that allows Icelandic publishers to produce hardcovers in the country for the first time in three years. This means that books that sell better than expected can be reprinted locally and return to shelves sooner. Local reprinting can have books ready in five days, as opposed to three to six weeks if they were to be reprinted abroad. This will allow publishers to make the most of the Christmas book flood this year.
Fans of Icelandic literature who don’t speak the language will also be glad to hear that translations of Icelandic literature into foreign languages have tripled over the past decade. Around 40 titles have recently been translated into English, or will soon be published in English, in the US and UK, according to the Icelandic Literature Centre.