Nerd Alert: 2019 Was The Year For Icelandic Books - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Nerd Alert: 2019 Was The Year For Icelandic Books

Published November 25, 2019

Inês Pereira
Photo by
Alísa Kalyanova

This year Icelanders saw a record number of books being published. From poetry to fiction to children’s books, it was an overall great year for the written word, RÚV reports. Be ready for this year’s Christmas book flood, because it’s bound to be Noah’s ark worthy.

Iceland is the country of the most authors per capita and most books read per capitain the world, which Icelanders are very proud of. According to the latest sales data, poetry and plays scored the highest increase with 51% more books to be published. Following them were children’s publications with an increase of 47%. Fiction ranked last in this overall tremendous increase, with only 21% more books wanting to get to the shelves.

This is great but not surprising news for the Icelandic Book Publishers Association. Their chairman, Heiðar Ingi Svansson, says the growth should be related to the bill of repayment. The bill was proposed last year by the Minister of Education, Lilja Alfreðsdóttir. Publishers were to start being refunded by 25% for their costs of publishing books in Icelandic.

Icelandic writers were really upset with this seemingly great news, RÚV reported. Authors and publishers had been campaigning for the abolition of taxes on books for a long time. The thoughts about ending the VAT taxes on Icelandic books faded away with this new bill, leaving a bitter feeling in the authors’ community.

Icelanders’ affection for books, especially around this time of year, is world-known. In one of Iceland’s traditions, Jólabókaflóð, or the “Christmas book flood”, families gather around on Christmas Eve to be gifted new books. If you want to bring this tradition to your home, check out our list for last year’s best English-translated Icelandic literature.

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