From Iceland — Literature Comprises 1.5% Of Iceland's GDP

Literature Comprises 1.5% Of Iceland’s GDP

Published January 18, 2016

Andie Sophia Fontaine
Photo by
Alisa Kalyanova

The literary arts are a big enough deal in Iceland to have contributed significantly to the country’s economy.

Icelanders do love their books, but writing is not just an art; it is also a significant part of the economy. Viðskiptablaðið reports that, according to a new book by Ágúst Einarsson, a professor at Bifröst University, the literary arts as a whole make a significant contribution to Iceland’s GDP.

According to his findings, the publishing, printing, distribution and sale of books and other print media in Iceland is responsible for about 1.5% of the country’s total GDP. In all, the literary arts put about 27 billion ISK into the economy in 2014.

“It came as a bit of a surprise to me how extensive the literary arts are in this country, economically speaking,” he said. “There’s a lot more connected to the literary arts than people realise.”

Ágúst points out that this is not just a matter of writers getting paid, either, but also printers, as well as the newspaper and magazine editions from media outlets.

The results come at a time when the Artist’s Salaries, an annual public grant to writers and artists, is typically given out. The salary is still controversial, amongst the arguments against it being that it is a drain on tax revenue. These new findings may have a significant effect on that argument.

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