Reykjavík Book fair
The ‘Christmas Book Flood’
The term ‘Book-Flood-Before-Christmas’, which may sound strange and even horrific in English, is familiar to every Icelander (as ‘jólabókaflóð in Icelandic’). This can be said to be one of the main reading promotions in Iceland, not in the traditional organized way, but one that has grown out of tradition. This tradition is the Icelandic habit of publishing books primarily in the months leading up to Christmas. It is no exaggeration to say that in Reykjavik, the time from early October until Christmas is dedicated to books in a massive way, publishers put out new books in large numbers, bookstores, libraries, cafés, bars, schools, workplaces and the media promote them in various ways and the public takes part by flocking to events and discussing what the books of choice might be. Writers have been known to become shop assistants in bookstores for the occasion and readings take place all over town. Books are the single most popular Christmas gift item in Iceland and this is the time of year when books are quite literally the talk of the town.
The Reykjavík Book Fair
The Reykjavik Book Fair grew out of this habit. It has been an annual event in the City of Literature since Reykjavík became a member of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network in 2011. The fair is jointly hosted by the Icelandic Publishers Association and the Reykjavik UNESCO City of Literature office. It is held during one weekend in late November. The fair is open to all and entrance is free of charge. The first few years it was located at the Reykjavik City Hall but moved to Harpa, the Reykjavik Concert Hall and Convention Center in 2016.
The fair gives a great overview of the Icelandic ‘Christmas Book Flood’, accompanied by a diverse literary programme for kids and adults. Guests can enjoy readings, discussions, story hours for children, exhibitions, music, games etc., all connected to books published in Iceland during the year in question. The fair is thus not a business to business fair, but rather a business to customer fair with the purpose of introducing in one place the bulk of Icelandic publishing in all genres. Readers can look at books in the booths hosted by a great majority of Icelandic publishers, talk to publishers and writers about these books, meet other readers, and enjoy the rich literary programme hosted by the City of Literature.