Iceland is not a huge country, but it has a millennia long rich literary history, beginning with the Old Norse Sagas. Everybody in Iceland reads, and everyone buys books, and just about half of the people of Iceland have written (and often self-published) books. Every year, there’s a traditions of Jólabókaflóð, or “Yule Book Flood,” a reference to the national Icelandic practice of giving books to friends and family, who then spend Christmas Eve staying up and reading their new books.
Jólabókaflóð started because of World War II; import tariffs and currency problems, among other difficulties, made gift-giving difficult. But paper wasn’t so dear, and books were available. Book-giving became a cultural institution, and in a nation of readers (Icelanders read more books per capita than most), a Yule-tide phenomena, culminating in a national book catalog, the bókatíðindi, sent to all Iceland households. The tradition has shaped Iceland’s publishing tradition, with most books, and almost all hardcover books released between October and November, in time for gift-giving.
Gifts are usually opened on Christmas Eve, and it’s not Christmas if you don’t receive at least one book. Memes about Jólabókaflóð have reached Facebook, Twitter and mainstream media, popularizing the idea of curling up with a books, some chocolate and a beverage as you read through Christmas Eve.
This quote pretty much says it all. According to m/m author Heidi Cullinan:
“One of the reasons why more women are ravenous for these books is that they want to read something about gay men that doesn’t involve them suffering from [HIV/AIDS], committing suicide or getting bullied. I know I was,” Cullinan says, adding that mainstream TV shows such as Queer As Folk and True Blood have helped heterosexuals embrace guy-on-guy fantasies as “normal.”
Contrary to popular belief, the costs of creating an e-book and a hardcover edition are similar. About 10 percent of hardcover costs go to printing, binding and shipping. Publishers set a retail price for an e-book, and selling agents such as Amazon.com and Apple receive a flat percentage of that retail price. These estimates are based on sales of 75,000. Expenses for a book include one-time costs such as editing and marketing. Many e-books lose money for publishers; e-books that sell millions of copies offset losses from less popular books. – Andrew Schneider
COST TO PUBLISHER $9.09
Author royalties $2.27
Operating profit 2.36
COST TO RETAILER $3.90
Digital rights management .10
Pre-tax operating profit 3.30
Price to consumer $12.99
Washington Post Saturday, February 5, 2011