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Book sales in Iceland dropped 43% between 2010 and 2017, with sales from the first four months of 2018 dropping a further 5% from the same period in 2017, reports Quartz.
The drop in book sales is thought to be connected to increased consumption of media via smartphones and tablets. Data usage by Icelanders on such devices increased by 38% between 2010 and 2016. However, data from government agency Statistics Iceland shows that the number of books published in Iceland has decreased steadily since 2011.
‘The alarming profile we published a year ago has gotten quite a bit worse,’ said Egill Örn Jóhannsson, CEO of publishing company Forlagið. ‘It underscores the importance of the authorities keeping their promise and removing the value-added tax [currently 11% on books] at the end of the year, as has been discussed and proposed in the [government] budget.’
A recent Icelandic poll reported in the Guardian suggests that Icelanders are also reading less, with 13.5% of respondents saying they had not read a single book in 2017, compared to 7% in 2010. The Icelandic tradition of giving books at Christmas time also appears to be waning, with 42% of Icelanders reporting they had not received a single book for Christmas.
The Icelandic government recently announced ISK 400 million in annual grant funding for book publishers as part of a plan to promote the Icelandic language.