Show Summary Details

Page of

 PRINTED FROM the OXFORD RESEARCH ENCYCLOPEDIA, LITERATURE (literature.oxfordre.com). (c) Oxford University Press USA, 2016. All Rights Reserved. Personal use only; commercial use is strictly prohibited. Please see applicable Privacy Policy and Legal Notice (for details see Privacy Policy).

date: 22 October 2017

The Modern Swedish Book Business, 1800–2000

Summary and Keywords

The Swedish book business began as a poorly developed market with serious economic, social, and infrastructural issues, but transformed over the course of two centuries into a well-functioning, albeit small, market with strong international ties. The 19th-century book market was hampered by poor infrastructure and underdeveloped publishing and book sales. Technological innovations in printing techniques and the new wood-based pulps for paper, in combination with better infrastructure, improved matters. The book business was increasingly professionalized at every stage, and by the turn of the 20th century could fairly be described as industrial and modernized. Access to forestry (and hence inexpensive pulp), inexpensive hydroelectric power, and strong industrial growth have been important factors in the advances in the Swedish book trade: they contributed to making printing cheaper and faster and thus paved the way for the low-priced books that were to dominate the business throughout the two centuries. Regardless of the era or the ideologies and purposes involved, cheap books have always driven the industry and have also been one of the most important factors in breaking down the social and cultural barriers to reading.

Developments in Sweden’s book trade generally followed the same course as socioeconomic history, with the notable exception that Sweden’s book trade has always been more liberal and commercial than other forms of trade and industry. The book market was regulated through trade agreements between 1843 and 1970. These created a stable, but strictly controlled, market. A deregulation of the trade in 1970 saw the pendulum swing far back. In comparison with other Western European countries since 1970, Sweden has had fewer restrictions and regulations and thus a highly commercial and price-conscious market.

A further notable aspect of the Swedish book trade is that despite the smallness of the country in terms of population and language, exports and imports have been far larger than most comparable countries. The international ties in terms of business-to-business relations, translations, and foreign rights sales remain strong, with the Swedish book trade very dependent on the international trade.

Keywords: Sweden, Swedish history, book trade, book sales, publishing history, Swedish literature, printing, Nordic

The modern book trade in Sweden emerged in the early 19th century with the expansion of printing, book publishing, distribution, sales, and reading. In the Nordic countries, the book market’s growth came later than in Central and Western Europe, although there was some semi-industrial book production as early as the 17th century. Overall, publishing in Sweden in the 17th and 18th centuries was irregular, modest, and mainly made up of religious material published by printers or bookbinders.1 Toward the turn of the 19th century, printing and book production had increased, mirroring the rise of the bourgeoisie and with it a growth in reading thanks to lending libraries and cheaper print.

The Swedish book trade was very underdeveloped at first, consigned to a poor periphery with economic, social, and infrastructural obstacles. Only gradually did it grow into a well-functioning domestic trade with strong international ties. This was obviously linked to the country’s socioeconomic history, but two specific aspects should be noted. The first is that despite a strongly social-democratic political climate, the book market in Sweden is one of the most liberal in Europe. The second is that though the country is small in terms of population and spread of language, its exports and imports of literature are larger than most other comparable countries in terms of production and sales of books domestically and abroad.

An introduction to the Swedish book trade has to take into account that the country is geographically large, but small in terms of population, and with a very low population density. In the early 19th century there were a few more densely populated areas in the south of the country, but most towns were small and scattered—and still are. The demographics made transportation difficult before the expansion of the railways in the latter part of the 19th century. Insufficient infrastructure made book dissemination meager and proper bookstores scarce, far apart, and small. In a country where darkness settles already in the afternoon during the long winter months, artificial light is obviously important. In the 1860s, the paraffin lamp was introduced, which made it possible to read in the evenings. The advent of electricity in the 1890s was a further improvement; however, it was not until the 1920s that electricity become widely available to Swedes.2

Swedish is a language spoken mainly within the country and is thus limited to the small population of approximately two and a half million speakers in the early 19th century, and nine million by the end of the 20th century. A minority of the population of Finland speaks Swedish as their first language, and Swedish has historically been an integrated part of Finnish cultural life. Danish and Norwegian, although separate languages, can be read and understood in Sweden and vice versa. In combination with a widespread knowledge of French, German, and English (the dominance of the various languages varied according to the era), the country’s book culture and the dissemination of books were richer than might be expected of a small nation.

Translations have been a substantial part of the publishing market these two hundred years. The proportion of translated works has varied, with one high being 70 percent of the market in the 1870s, mainly due to a lack of copyright to protect international authors. On average, though, translations have tended to account for around half of the published books in Sweden. Additionally, foreign books have always been imported in their original languages. Studies have shown that these imports were essential for a flourishing cultural life in Sweden. For example, in the late 19th century, 25 percent of all reviews in newspapers were written on foreign language books. The prominent British publisher Stanley Unwin also recorded this openness to foreign markets and literature in a trade overview in the 1930s.3 For most of the 20th century, it was standard for Swedish bookstores to keep a large stock of imported books, and when the Internet bookstores opened in 1997, the market grew rapidly.4 Except for short hiatuses during the two world wars, British and American publishers have consistently sold fairly large numbers of books to Sweden.

The Emerging Market

The early 18th-century book market in Sweden was still slowly developing and faced constant difficulties, including censorship, royal privileges that controlled the market, high customs duties on imported paper, and high costs for shipping books. The trade in these early years has been described as “unorganized and heterogeneous.”5 At this point, publishing was hardly a professional pursuit; instead, it was always combined with other occupations. Precisely how underdeveloped the market was is something researchers disagree on, but whether it was in a dismal state or whether it had established structure of a kind, the pre-industrial Swedish book market can only be described as “emerging.”6

The modern book market in Sweden is generally dated to 1810 and the passage of the Freedom of the Press Act. Before then, printing, publishing, and bookselling had been under strict state control and censorship, particularly between 1798 and 1809—“the iron years.”7 This had ended with what is often described as the last blow to the Sweden’s dreams of once again becoming a great power. In the war against Russia in 1808–1809, Sweden lost Finland, an event that sparked cultural upheaval. Swedish nationalism coincided in literature with Romanticism, creating a particular kind of literature where national, conservative, and moral ideals were melded with Old Norse mythology.8 History, language, and culture mixed with mythology, folklore, and notions of Sweden’s origins, nature, and national character to create a national identity. Important to the furthering of “Swedishness” were literature, book culture, and reading, as can clearly be seen in folk tales and traditions, as well as the strong interest in reading, writing, and producing Swedish-language books on issues of the country.

There was a simultaneous reaction against this literature and its retelling of patriotic stories from Viking or Old Norse material. In the first half of the 19th century, this was mainly visible in the early realist accounts of modern society, the most controversial being Carl Jonas Love Almqvist’s 1839 novel about female independence and modern marriage, Det går an (“It will do,” published in English translation in 1919 as Sara Videbeck). However, Fredrika Bremer (1801–1865) established the realist novel in Sweden in the 1830s. With her strong observations of society and her often radical ideas, she became a central figure in Swedish culture. Bremer was also the Swedish author most widely translated and read in English mid-century.9

Sociopolitical change was indeed important, but to understand the growth of the book market one cannot ignore the material aspects, particularly the various technological and infrastructural developments in shipping, printing, binding, and paper manufacturing. Until the 1830s, book parcels were sent by boat along Sweden’s coasts, and internally by river and canal. Overland, the mail service and other deliveries relied on farmers with horses and carts. Access to published material was slow. In remote areas it could take up to a year for a book to arrive. Booksellers were another option: they took books from the publishers in Stockholm out to the various county fairs where books could be sold. The system was unreliable at best, and the changes in infrastructure over the course of the 19th century would prove essential for the growth of the book trade. These improvements included stagecoach routes in the 1830s, which were followed by the first public railroads in the 1840s. Jointly they made up a reasonably comprehensive network for the shipping of books. During this period the Swedish mail service also opened new offices and introduced stamps and payment services, making it easier to send correspondence and book parcels to remote areas.

Printing took a leap forward with the introduction of Applegath and Cowper’s improved steam printing press, first imported to Sweden in 1829 by the publisher Johan Per Lindh. In the years that followed, a number of printing machines were imported that improved speed and quality. Another crucial innovation was wood-based paper. Technology imported from Germany, invented by Friedrich Gottlob Keller in 1844, made a significant difference. Until then, Sweden had been dependent on imported paper, but its vast forests offered cheap and accessible wood for the new kind of pulp. In 1857, the first pulp mill of its kind was established in Trollhättan, and others soon followed, establishing Sweden as a force to be reckoned with. Sweden was—and is, in the 21st century—Europe’s largest pulp and paper producer, and this domestic access was essential for the growth of publishing. Together, these technological shifts transformed the Swedish book business from one of craftsmanship to one shaped by industry.

The publishers themselves came from varied backgrounds and had different goals and ideals. Professional publishers, devoted to the business of producing books, first appeared in the 1820s and 1830s, establishing a number of publishing houses. Many of these early publishers still operate and remain influential—Norstedts förlag founded in 1823, Gleerups förlag in 1826, and Albert Bonniers in 1837. Nevertheless, in the 1830s, the number of publishers, large and small, was still fewer than seventy.

While publishers grew in number and professionalism, the same cannot be said for booksellers. In the early 19th century, professional bookstores were unusual outside the capital, Stockholm, and the two university cities of Lund and Uppsala. Even in larger cities such as Gothenburg and Malmö, there were only small bookstores, and they were rarely long-lived; in the countryside, there were none. In 1830, a publisher said of the situation, “In many places, and even in Gothenburg—the country’s second city—there are no open shops for the sale of books. If you desire a book you must be lucky enough to find the bookseller at home.”10 He was not the only one to complain about the lack of a functioning book distribution and sales system. Swedish book sales before the 1840s were underdeveloped in every respect, and many booksellers were inexperienced and even ignorant about books. The publishers complained that many of them sold anything from paper and pens to compact mirrors, flowerpots, and all sorts of odd paraphernalia among their books. These retailers hardly provided a secure outlet for the publishers, and most books were sold through catalogues direct to individuals, through traveling peddlers at fairs, or through local ministers or teachers.

The 1830s: The Liberal Market

In the 1830s, newspaper and book publishing was fueled by the liberal ideas that were becoming increasingly fashionable with the growth of the middle class. The most important newspaper was the liberal Aftonbladet, founded in 1830 by Lars Johan Hierta, who also set up a publishing house.11 Hierta was a telling example of the strong links between newspaper and book publishing in the 19th century. An industrialist and entrepreneur, Hierta got into book publishing when he began printing a series of cheap weekly booklets that were distributed using the same channels as his newspaper.12 This was not only an established and easy method for him, but it also meant he could take advantage of the free postage that the government allowed to periodicals.13 Inspired by publishing strategies developed in Britain and on the Continent, Hierta introduced a “reading library,” Läsebibliothek, which in 1833 was a series of translated fiction. The following year he acquired a cylinder press from Applegath and Cowper, thus increasing production tenfold.14 His series was published in forty-five installments throughout 1851, and with its low price and large print runs, it became a success—and a turning point in the book business in general.15

Historians have argued that the 1830s marked the beginning of a “consumption revolution” in Sweden, as private consumption grew and a strong domestic market was established.16 The rise of the bourgeoisie, as in many other countries, led to an increased demand for books that could be read for leisure. Particularly popular was the so-called robbery novel, the crime fiction of the time, often printed in simple editions and available from private lending libraries for a small fee. Robbery novels were simply the beginning of a long line of popular fiction, produced for a new kind of readership during the 19th century; however, the popular novels of the day were only a part of the business, and most books published were still educational or religious.

What is particularly interesting about the 1830s is not only that it was a time of innovation and early industrialization but also that with a growing market, the inadequacies of the business became more and more obvious to many publishers.

The 1840s: Establishing a Professional Book Market

The 1840s marked the beginning of the professional book trade in Sweden. The decade saw a number of key changes: book trade organizations were set up; the first public railroads were built; a public school system was established; the medieval guild system was abolished; and modern manufacturing and forestry industries emerged. All these factors contributed to the modern book market and its readership.

The book business was still unorganized, however, and by and large nonprofessional. Publishing was almost always pursued alongside something else—often printing, bookbinding, or bookselling. There were also any number of “private publishers,” such as self-publishing authors and small micro-publishers.17 These small-scale publishers—or “dilettantes,” as the more professional publishers liked to call them—were a threat to the professionalization of the business. In addition, there were other and larger problems, one being incompetent booksellers. Facing poor payment systems and patchy distribution at best, publishers were pushed into joining forces. Inspired by the newly created trade organizations in neighboring countries (for example, Germany in 1825 and Denmark in 1837), a number of publishers in Stockholm formed a Swedish Publishers’ Association, Svenska Bokförläggareföreningen, in 1843. The main aim of the organization was to take control of distribution by establishing a network of professional bookstores under the association’s aegis. Booksellers could apply to become registered agents, and they were then carefully vetted to ensure that they were serious, that their business was in order, and that they had some knowledge of books. The bookstores were relatively free of competition as the association only approved of one store in every area, town, or district, depending on the size of the market there. Books were then sent out to these stores for sale on commission—hence the name “commission bookstores.” Initially there were not enough bookstores to qualify. The first catalogue had sixty-one booksellers but only twenty-two bookstores per se, while the rest included teachers, bookkeepers, pharmacists, and a wine merchant.18 This gradually changed as the commission system gave the producers complete control over book sales.

Undeniably linked to bookselling was book shipping. A major issue in the Swedish trade in the 19th century was transportation, and thus it was something that engaged the Publishers’ Association. Efforts were made to improve the mail and to lower costs, but in comparison to most European countries at the time, Sweden had a poor stagecoach system. Instead, steamboats and carriers were used, and these were slow and dependent on the winter weather. Some years, books could not be shipped to rural areas at all. Transportation was greatly improved by the advent of the railroads, which by the 1870s connected all the larger cities. The railroads have been identified as “the most important factor behind the emergence of a national, literary culture.”19 Another important part of the professionalization of the trade was the foundation of a large shipping agency, Seelig & Co., in 1848 (which only ceased trading in 2006). The company had strong ties to the Publishers’ Association and would become an important link between the publishers and the commission bookstores.

Professionalization often meant that many more were able to make a living from publishing alone, which is one of the distinguishing features of the modern publisher. However, others still kept a strong link to a print shop or a bookstore. That was particularly true for the two powerhouses, the publishers P. A. Norstedt & Söner and Albert Bonniers förlag. These two publishers, which to this day are still the most important publishers in Sweden, also represented two major types of publisher: publisher as printer and publisher as bookseller. Norstedts began as a print shop and, in order to make sure there was enough work for its very expensive press, ventured into publishing. This kind of publisher tended to focus on the product—on printing and production. Norstedts’ publishing was initially a sideline, which encouraged it to concentrate primarily on the production of print ventures regarded as safe—government and other official publications, schoolbooks, legal texts, and religious prints. Meanwhile, the publisher as bookseller, in this case Bonniers, often owned a bookstore and started to publish its own books after realizing that there was customer demand not met by other publishers. Such bookseller–publishers tended to be more focused on customer demand. Albert Bonnier and his brother came from Denmark, a country that was more advanced in terms of book sales, and they used their knowledge in a wide variety of enterprises. Some of these were risky, others experimental, but all in all the brothers were successful in testing new kinds of publishing.

The Common Reader

Any book trade is dependent on its readers and on general literacy. Religious reading was already common in 18th-century Sweden, but reading of other kinds of material was rare among the wider population. One reason was that religious texts were printed in Fraktur, the Swedish version of black-letter or Gothic type, while profane books were printed in an Antiqua or roman type. Sweden had high literacy rates early on, which came from the clergy being required to teach their congregations to read, a system that dated back to 1686 and was still going strong until the mid-19th century. In the early 19th century, far more were able to read in Sweden than in most other European countries where literacy only developed hand in hand with compulsory education.20 The wider population’s ability to read, despite a great lack of schools in Sweden can be attributed to this parish reading system. However, this meant that the teaching of reading was based on the catechism, the hymnal, and to a lesser extent the ABCs.21

While the majority of the population learned to read religious texts in Fraktur only, the middle and upper classes were taught a wider range of reading skills. In the early 19th century, Swedish book production was divided fifty–fifty between Antiqua and Fraktur. Books printed in Fraktur were mostly religious texts and generally cheaper. Books in roman type were often more expensive, and most fiction was printed in an Antiqua type.22 The ability to read Fraktur and Antiqua types divided the population; hence printing type was a social and cultural marker for most of the 19th century.

Until 1842, any schooling was unusual, and only 10 percent of children were provided with basic teaching in a school environment. The 1842 School Act required there to be a school, or folkskola, in every parish and made school attendance compulsory for young children.23 Although the development of the education system was slow, the new organization rapidly improved reading levels. These schools also taught children to read Antiqua; thus, more people could access a wider range of publications. A study of literacy among parishioners in a rural community in the 1850s shows what have been accepted facts ever since—that socioeconomic factors impacted reading ability, but also that women generally had a higher reading grade.24

Evidence suggests that Sweden had the highest literacy rates in Europe in the mid-19th century.25 Reading the Catechism and Bible might not have provided a wide set of reading skills but did bring basic literacy to a large proportion of the population. School reform brought broader reading and comprehension skills, but still the economic and social obstacles were evident. An interesting, and indeed unusual, example is a study of reading ability among Swedish convicts. It provides telling evidence because convicts often belong to the lowest of the lower classes. In the 1860s, 5 percent of convicts in Sweden could not read, a fact that points to the understandable connection between education and social circumstances. However, improvements in the education system changed this, and by 1910 the number of convicts who could not read was almost down to zero. In a comparison of different sources, Egil Johansson concludes that the breakthrough that heralded widespread if not full literacy came at the turn of the 20th century.26

A Growing Book Industry

The second half of the 19th century brought industrialism to Sweden. Technology made printing faster and cheaper, the new middle class spent more time and money on reading, and society provided a political as well as practical structure for the book business. Throughout the 19th century, Sweden was dependent culturally and economically on the northern parts of what in 1871 became Germany (particularly Prussia and Pomerania). Industrialism began to change this dependency, and Sweden slowly turned toward Britain, importing both new technology and literature.27

Printing, shipping, and selling were essential to the trade, but so were the books themselves, and the readers who spent their time and money on them. With expansion followed a diversification of the market, catering to different consumer needs. The production of books up until the mid-19th century was still by and large religious and educational, and only to some extent literary. With the growth of the market, publishers began experimenting with new formats, production materials, and print techniques. Two very different types of books stand out: inexpensive, plain books and their polar opposite, expensive books of a high material standard. The production of books as exclusive commodities were often hymnbooks, almanacs, and illustrated children’s books—aesthetic items bound in gold-tooled leather. These were books for the rising middle class and their personal libraries, and can be linked to a burgeoning consumer society.

Toward the end of the century, when cloth and leather binding became more common, they were often used for nonfiction books made to last, in genres such as history, society, mathematics, and technology.28 The mostly industrially bound books that became common in the second half of the 19th century were a consequence of technological innovations. In 1853, Isak Elkan established the first bookbindery in Sweden that could bulk produce publishers’ bindings, and the industrialized bindings gradually became standard.29 While the new kind of books with publishers’ bindings became increasingly common, as late as 1910, half of all the books published were sold unbound.30 Most published books were printed in large quantities, folded, and sewn, and they tended to be either religious or inexpensive, popular skillingtryck (a kind of broadsheet that was popular throughout the 19th century). Printing as a business grew. In 1800, the number of printers in Sweden was 26; by 1870, their number had grown to 136; and just a decade later, in 1883, it had risen to 186.31

While cheap books did increase in number, it was not until the latter decades of the 19th century that book production and sales really picked up. In the 1870s and 1880s, the financial and industrial situation in Sweden improved, which in turn had a positive effect on the book business. For example, in 1878, Henry Morton Stanley’s Through the Dark Continent sold five thousand copies, which was regarded as a great success. A decade later, books such as Swedish-Finnish author Zacharias Topelius’s The Field Surgeon’s Tale, a highly nationalist historical novel, sold in the order of thirty thousand copies.32 These were well-known titles often mentioned or discussed in literary or cultural histories, but most of the books successful in a certain period do not survive canon formation. Publishing history and literary history are not one and the same, and some of the most important names of 19th-century fiction in quantitative terms—meaning publishing and sales—are all but forgotten.33

1887–1914: Industrialization

Sweden had its agrarian and industrial revolutions in the 19th century, but they took place later than in Continental Europe. Agrarian reform in the first half of the century pushed people toward the cities. The rising population compounded the problem, and hardship and lack of work meant emigration became a demographic regulator. Thus it was not until the last two decades of the century that the modernization of the book market gained momentum. There was a long period of economic expansion in the country between 1870 and 1914, although it should be noted that by most standards Sweden was part of a “poor European periphery.” Like Ireland, Italy, and Spain, it was distinguished by poverty, little industrialization, and low labor productivity.34 As late as 1860, 90 percent of the population was still rural, and industrialization in the last three decades of the century, while important, was still only a relative change. By World War I, only a quarter of the Swedish population was living in urban areas.35

As elsewhere, the book business was mainly something for the middle classes, dealing with moral and political issues pertinent to them. In the 1870s, political, ideological, moral, and religious issues were much debated, and publishers were forced to get involved. One of these controversies resulted in a poisonous clash between some publishers. It followed the publication of August Strindberg’s collection of short stories, Giftas (1884; Married, 1913). Strindberg was perhaps Sweden’s most prominent author, but the book led to his accusation, trial, and acquittal on charges of blasphemy. Not only was the book much debated but by the time of the acquittal, it had caused an intense argument and a serious rift between publishers. On the one side was the head of Norstedts, G. B. A. Holm, and other publishers who regarded the book as immoral; on the other, Bonniers, the publisher of the now infamous collection.

While Strindberg was at the heart of the storm, his book was in fact part of an important shift where, in the 1880s, realism, and a decade later naturalism, became the key literary forms. Realism and naturalism broke with the bourgeois moral code, and previously unthinkable motifs found their way into Swedish fiction and drama. The period, termed “the modern breakthrough” in 1883 by Danish critic George Brandes, is also renowned for being the only time when Scandinavian literature achieved a high international profile. Of the Swedish authors, it was mainly Strindberg and Selma Lagerlöf who were known across Europe for their plays and prose.36 While Swedish fiction and drama of the time is the best remembered, it should be noted that it was still the case that most published books were nonfiction. Of the books published between 1880 and 1900, the largest number were about politics and economy (38 percent), followed by theology (13 percent), education (12 percent) and public administration (10 percent). Fiction—meaning novels—came in fifth place, accounting for only 8 percent of book production.37

Moral and religious issues might have been high on the agenda in a number of pamphlets and letters, but the controversy that racked the Publishers’ Association had as much to do with the organization of the book business. Who should sell books? How should the system be organized? Should publishers be allowed to sell to outlets outside the commission bookstores? These questions divided the publishers along much the same lines as the furor over the Strindberg book. As a company, Bonniers was geared toward sales and wanted to sell its books to any distributor who would have them. Norstedts, by contrast, was more focused on the printing side and wanted a strictly controlled system for sales. The moral and business issues could not be solved, and the Publishers’ Association split in 1887 with the creation of a splinter organization, the New Publishers’ Association (Nya Bokförläggareföreningen). There had been only 15 founders of the original association in 1843, but the book market had grown and many new entrepreneurs had entered the business. By 1881, as tensions within the organization rose, there were 104 members of the Publishers’ Association. In the 1870s alone, 65 new publishing companies had been started, and it was this expansive phase that created a much more competitive market.38 Unfortunately, book sales were not as strong, and by the early 1880s, it had become increasingly difficult to make money. While there had been exponential growth in the number of titles published in the century as a whole, publishing in the last two decades accounted for fully 80 percent of all books published in the 19th century.39 It was a change that explains much of the growth in Publishers’ Association membership and the split in 1887. It was an impractical division, of course, and by 1912, the two organizations had merged again.

An extensive study of the book trade in Sweden in 1887–1943 by Johan Svedjedal, a sociologist of literature, has identified four significant trends in publishing in the period up to 1912. Bonnier and Norstedts dominated Swedish publishing, and both continued to grow, partly through acquisitions. The fortunes of medium-sized publishers fluctuated, with quite a few closing down, but others becoming established. A new kind of publisher appeared, geared specifically toward cheap books and genre fiction, most prominent of which was Åhlén & Åkerlund. Finally, the labor movement founded its first publishing houses, which became culturally and socially significant. Overall, publishing structures changed, as did practices. Professionalization led one-man businesses to expand and hire staff. But most notably, the practice of publishing cheap books became virtually universal. As publishers were allowed to sell these low-priced publications outside the commission bookstores, many specifically targeted this wider market.40

The importance placed on literature during the last years of the century was also visible in the institution of the Nobel Prize in Literature. Under the terms of Alfred Nobel’s will, the task of drawing up the regulations for the award of the prize, like the nomination and selection of the laureates, fell to the Swedish Academy (founded in 1786). Some of the Academy argued that this large sum of money should be earmarked for Swedish authors, thus promoting native literature. But Carl David af Wirsén, in his capacity as the permanent secretary of the Academy, argued that the best way to support Swedish literature was to make it an international prize. If the prize were well known, af Wirsén argued, it would in turn generate interest in Sweden.41 The prize, when it was first awarded in 1901, was announced to be an international award, which suggests these new cultural ideas had taken root. National sentiment had, to some extent at least, been replaced by internationalism.

The Professional Author and Copyright Protection

The beginning of authors’ rights in Sweden can be dated to the 1810/1812 Freedom of the Press Act, which included sections on authors’ rights.42 However, this first version of copyright did not protect authors against free translations into other languages. During most of the 19th century, Swedish authors were widely translated in other European countries, albeit mostly in Germany, without any or with little compensation. Some authors regarded it as literary dissemination, but others were not equally pleased. The system made it cheaper to publish translations, and therefore harder for domestic authors to get published. At the same time, Swedish authors were not paid for foreign publications of their works. In 1893, the Swedish Writers’ Union (Sveriges Författareförening) was formed chiefly to address the issue of copyright. Two established authors, Verner von Heidenstam and Hugo Tigerschiöld, who helped found the organization, were clear on the need to address authors’ financial situations and publishing contracts.

Back in 1877, the authors’ domestic rights had been formally addressed in a new law that had all the hallmarks of modern copyright legislation. Yet the problems remained, and the Writers’ Union pushed for rectification, especially that Sweden should join the Berne Convention. When this finally happened in 1904, Swedish authors were for the first time protected internationally, which did lead to a decreased production of Swedish works in many countries. The number of published translations into Swedish simultaneously fell, and opened the market for more domestic publishing.

In the 20th century, the Writers’ Union’s main focus was copyright protection and protecting authors’ incomes. Negotiations between the Publishers’ Association and the Writers’ Union were at times vituperative. The most important agreement was the standard contract for royalties and payments, settled in 1947. This so-called standard agreement has been the norm ever since, despite the formal agreement being abandoned in 1995. In recent years, due to advent of rights agents as well as self-publishing, the standards for payment, advances, and copyright have rapidly collapsed.

Book Production in the Early 20th Century

In the early 20th century, many European countries saw a rapid expansion of cheap printing.43 In Sweden, book production rose fast and prices decreased. The new cheap books were sold in outlets close to the readers: kiosks and newsstands, workplaces, and the many local markets and fairs. Bookstores were often few and far between, and their highbrow approach to customers made many feel inadequate, while other, smaller outlets offered a larger and less off-putting arena for book sales. Books were produced for railroad passengers and sold at Pressbyrån (lit. “the press agency”), a newsstand chain founded in 1899 that had exclusive rights to all train station sales of daily newspapers, and soon an important outlet for inexpensive books.44 These small retail outlets gave their name to the kiosklitteratur, or newsstand fiction—a rather derogatory term for commercial mass-market fiction used ever since.

Two particular enterprises by Ljus förlag and Nordiska förlaget set the pace in Sweden. In the 19th century, the publishing houses’ inspiration and business models were often taken from magazine and news publishing. Ljus was no different in this respect, having originally published a weekly magazine for fiction and popular science from 1898. Although initially a success, Ljus’s magazines were soon replaced by books, published in long series at a low price, the most important being Ljus Enkronasböcker (“Ljus’s one krona books”), which ran from 1904 to 1916. The price of the books was held down by large print runs and a standardized format, and by republishing famous Swedish authors.45

Ljus’s series inspired many followers, the most important being Nordiska förlaget, which in 1910 introduced 25-öresböcker (“books for 25 öre”).46 Nordiska förlaget’s motto was “a library in every Swedish home,” and their books can be seen as an adaption to the economic realities of the working class.47 The introduction of these cheap books opened the floodgate of inexpensive publishing but also created a competitive market and an endless debate about overproduction in the book business. The prices were in fact too low, and these extremely underpriced books disappeared by 1920.48

The first two decades of the 20th century thus witnessed a strong increase in fiction publishing. In 1870, there had been fewer than one hundred fiction titles a year, but by 1920, that had risen to well over five hundred annually.49 This increase also brought diversification to the book market. Much of what was published was genre fiction in plain paperbacks—what is known as “pulp fiction” in some countries, but in Sweden was called “Nick Carter books” after one of the most prominent fictional heroes of the day.50 These were cheap, accessible books, available to all kinds of readers and consequently accused of being too cheap and corrupting the young. Something of a moral panic erupted against the reading of low-quality books. Adventure, passion, and crime stories were targeted, but also authors such as Rudyard Kipling, Jules Verne, and Conan Doyle, in what developed into an organized campaign in 1908–1909 against “grubby literature.”51

Apart from what was seen as the low quality of the texts, the moral and value issues were often connected to the place of sale. The market, divided between bookstores and small retailers, paralleled a social and cultural stratification that saw the working class and the middle class buy their books in very different places. Comparisons of book consumption in 1913, 1923, and 1933 show a large gap between the working class and the middle class; they also show that weekly magazines and cheap books were the most widespread reading material among the working class. The divided market also meant that the cheap books were not bought in bookstores. The traditional commission bookstores were geared toward the middle class and had not adjusted their sales systems and ideas to the new working class. While other areas of consumption recognized that the working class was enjoying a growing prosperity that transformed consumer society, the bookstores remained conservative.52

Keeping prices down required rational and cheap production, and the popular books were most often sold unbound with a simple paper wrapper.53 Books bound with hardboard covers with cloth, however, became the norm for new fiction sold in bookstores. The difference between cheap and expensive books thus covered content, material, and aesthetics; sales and distribution; and audience. The price-determined division between sales points thus split the market between prestigious hardcover books in bookstores and paperbacks sold elsewhere. The many derogatory names for books read by the wider reading public hint at this divide—“newsstand fiction,” of course, and the common kolportage-romaner (“novels sold by traveling sellers”), both indicating that the system of sales equated to a certain type of book. A kolportör was a traveling bookseller, a peddler who sold cheap, short books and booklets at the markets and fairs so common at the turn of the last century. The novels came to represent mass-produced genre fiction, mainly crime and romance.

Publishing was already diverse, and businesses’ ability to adapt can be seen in the English-language publishing of the 1940s. During World War II, Sweden, as a neutral country with no lack of paper, had a fairly prosperous book business. Books were confiscated and censored, particularly any anti-Nazi publications that went against the government’s policy of appeasement intended to keep Germany at bay, but while the war affected publishing in general and fiction in particular, it should be noted that in comparison with most other European countries, Sweden’s book trade was stable. Obviously, foreign imports plummeted, but this generated domestic English-language publishing. Most notable was Zephyr Books (1942–1949), with 162 titles published by the Continental Book Company, a subsidiary of Bonniers. Inspired by the Albatross Modern Continental Library, with its color-coded covers for classics and well-established authors, Zephyr was a first attempt in Sweden to enter the international book business. However, as European book publishing recovered after the war, the enterprise was abandoned.

Mass Movements and the Book Market

Mass movements have been a determining factor in Sweden’s history, as elsewhere. The three major movements—the labor movement, the temperance movement, and Christian revivalism—had an abiding effect on reading, the production of texts, and book sales. Both the labor movement and Christian revivalism led to new publishing houses to cater to different interest groups. Not only did they publish an extensive variety of books, but they were also able to reach outside traditional publishing networks. Through local representatives or religious leaders, publications from the movement-connected publishing houses were sold in small villages, workplaces, and congregations. One example was Evangeliska sällskapet (the Evangelical Association), founded in 1808, which was able to distribute almost three million evangelical tracts by means of the clergy and congregations in a short period of time. Religious publications increased dramatically in number over the century, the most influential being Evangeliska Fosterlands-stiftelsen (the Swedish Evangelical Mission), which between 1856 and 1909 printed and distributed forty million religious prints and tracts, making it the largest publishing house in all the Nordic countries in the early 20th century.

The rise of the working classes and their political organization was perhaps the most important factor in Swedish cultural life from the 1880s onward. Tracing the history both of the political labor party from 1889 (Socialdemokratiska Arbetare-Partiet, SAP, later Sveriges Socialdemokratiska Arbetarparti) and organizations connected to the party, such as trade unions, educational organizations, and workers’ movements, links it strongly to publishing and literature. While literacy was almost universal in Sweden by the early 20th century, the standard of education in mathematics, history, law, and the social sciences was low. The working-class movements chose to focus on this, in the belief that education can change the society and every individual’s situation. Newspapers and books testified to how “a simple man” could change his life through reading and learning.

In Sweden, as in many other European countries, the early 20th century was marked by class struggle in both politics and labor regulation. The Great Strike of 1909, although it failed, spurred on political commitment, unionization, and social progress. In 1920, the Social Democratic Party formed the national government for the first time, and between 1936 and 1976, it held office uninterrupted, apart from a unity government during World War II. When the Social Democratic Party came to power, it prompted a far greater interest in working-class culture, living conditions, and education. Within the labor movement, meanwhile, publishing became an important means of reaching out to the people. The most significant initiative came from the magazine publisher Folket i Bild (“People in Pictures”), which for a time was owned by the Social Democratic Party: in 1940, it began publish a series of folkböcker (“peoples’ books”), intended to improve workers’ reading skills and education in general and to encourage people to recognize the value of reading. These books were initially not available in bookstores but only through individuals, who sold them at work and in their local area. It was a highly successful system with nationwide coverage, often in combination with reading groups. The concept—inexpensive reprints and local distribution—was simple, and soon copied by others. The main competitor, Bonniers, which in 1947 started its own series, Bonniers Folkbibliotek, and had an extensive backlist to choose from, soon had print runs of well over fifty thousand copies. Its target market was also the new working class, and the publisher even had its own shelving system, String, designed specifically for the club and still today common in many homes.54 This type of book was widespread throughout the 1940s and 1950s, and was only replaced by a new kind of inexpensive paperback, the pocket book.

The labor movement’s paperback publishing, with its large print runs and wide reach, shows the varied nature of cheap publishing in Sweden. Eva Hemmungs Wirtén argues that in the postwar period “the mass market constituted both a threat and a promise.”55 Mass-market publishers and the labor movements all used similar means and benefited from improved technology, but with different goals. The duality of quality and category publishing in the market has remained a prominent feature, one that time and time again has been criticized. In the 1970s, for example, the workers’ educational organization ran a campaign against category books. “Don’t buy trash!” was the slogan, echoing the attacks on low-brow literature at the start of the century. Promoting a new series of quality paperbacks, the campaign identified the enemy as Americanized culture, packaged in mass-market paperbacks.56

Linked to ideals of education for all was the development of a government-supported library system. Parish libraries existed already in the 19th century, but these tended to consist only of books on religion, housekeeping, and agriculture, and depended on enthusiastic individuals. A modern state-supported system was created in the 1910s and was based on the American public library model: open for all, open shelves, and a wide-ranging collection. Inspired by a study tour of the United States in 1912, Valfrid Palmgren was commissioned to lay out a plan for a national library system. She created a strong system for standards, organization, collections, and activities.57 Although Palmgren’s plan had thoroughgoing effects, the full scale of public libraries was not visible until the postwar years. The early 1950s to the mid-1970s was the peak of the Swedish welfare state and “Folkhemmet” (“the home for the people”), which explains the breakthrough and strong growth of the Swedish library system during this phase.58

1945–1970: The Golden Years

The postwar years were expansive for most Swedish businesses. The period is sometimes referred to as “the golden years” in Sweden because the economy grew faster than in most other Western countries.59 Sweden had been neutral during both world wars, and thus the country enjoyed economic and social advantages that led to strong expansion and growth in the 1940s and 1950s. On a general level, mass consumption grew quickly, which in the book business meant that more books were sold, more titles were published, and more and more people were reading. Books published for the general public—including children’s books, biographies, and nonfiction in areas such as history, the social sciences, philosophy, and psychology—increased faster than fiction. Many of these publications met the demand from an expanding educational system. A larger, well-educated public, with more time and money than previous generations, formed a promising new market.60 Publishing grew between 1945 and 1970 both in terms of title output and the number of active publishers in the Publishers’ Association. The increase can be interpreted as a direct effect of the development of the Swedish welfare state in the postwar period, with a substantial number of nonfiction and specialized titles catering for the burgeoning civic society. This expansive phase attracted new kinds of businesses, and publishing moved from a traditional, Bonniers- and Norstedts-dominated structure to a market with many smaller companies of more diverse character.61

A conclusion that can be drawn from most of the 19th and the 20th centuries is that innovation and change in the publishing industry was almost always driven by publishing and printing becoming cheaper, faster, and more diverse. Inexpensive publishing was key to reaching new readers and opening up the market. The postwar years were no exception, and there were two main areas where this change took place. One was the advent of quality paperbacks inspired by Allen Lane’s Penguin; the other, yet again new kinds of cheap, mass-manufactured genre paperbacks printed on low-quality paper, by then called mass-market paperbacks.

The quality paperback was introduced in 1957 by the Bonniers’ imprint Aldus. It was the beginning of a new kind of paperback with a fixed format, modern cover design, and claims to quality on the covers and in advertising. The publishers deliberately avoided any connection to previous inexpensive editions and book series, even though many of those continued to be produced. Once Bonniers had introduced their first paperback, others soon followed suit and these books came to characterize the trade throughout the 1960s and 1970s. They were generally published in series with distinct brands, and every publishing house had to have their own with logos, colors, and designs to set them apart: Aldus (1957) and Delfin (1960) were both Bonniers imprints, but then followed Prisma (1960), W&Wserien (1963), Tema (1964), and the Norstedts imprint PAN (1967). By 1969, the number of published quality paperbacks had risen to 659 separate series.62

Sweden had a strong book production: in an international comparison from the 1950s, Sweden came in fifth place in terms of book production per capita, with countries such as the United Kingdom and the United States far behind.63 Despite this strong development and the expanding production, sales and reading came to an abrupt halt in 1970. This year saw the complete deregulation of the trade and a crisis in publishing, but it was also the beginning of a very different kind of book trade than the regulated and stable market of 1843–1970.

A few years later, Per I. Gedin, a senior partner at the publisher Wahlström & Widstrand, wrote an influential book on the Swedish trade, Literature in the Marketplace, which became the established version of events.64 He argued that an overly rapid growth in published titles in the postwar period, and in particular the 1960s, was the main cause of the financial difficulties that the larger publishers experienced in the late 1960s. He named it “the publishing crisis,” and his analysis said it was caused by overproduction and market concentration: a few large companies—Bonniers, Esselte, and Almqvist & Wiksell/Geber—had 60 percent of the total Swedish market.65 However, concentration per se is not an obstacle to growth; rather it was the large companies’ expected market share and anticipated profits that were the main problems. The dominant publishing houses believed that there would be status quo, and when new, small publishing houses were successful, their only response was to publish more titles. Small and large publishers alike contributed to the noticeable inflation in the number of titles; however, only the larger companies, with their wide range of genres and types of publication, suffered, as salaries, production costs, and rents rose in the 1960s.66

At the same time there was a radical transformation of the systems for sales. A report from the national competition authority concluded in 1965 that the book market system was indeed illegal and demanded the total deregulation of the trade. Similar debates in other European countries took a different turn. In Britain, for example, the publishers successfully argued that “books are different.”67 Given that Sweden at the time had a mixed economy with strong state control and constant economic intervention, it is surprising that the political stance was to require the complete deregulation of the book business.

1970–1995: Deregulation and a Competitive Market

Deregulation in 1970 meant that Sweden was the first European country to abandon fixed book prices, but also that the book market opened for competitive sales. Not only was Sweden the first in Europe with a deregulated trade, few countries followed, and most still have some kind of regulated system, primarily fixed prices.68

The deregulation of the book trade in Sweden covered four main areas. There was a ban on fixed book prices; all books became available to every retailer; publishers lost their control over the establishment of bookstores; and the old system of sales on commission was abandoned.69 A description of the predominance of different sale systems after 1970 gives 1970–1985 as the time of the subscription book clubs, 1980–1995 as the period when the chain store booksellers grew, and after 1995 as the time when Internet bookstores expanded rapidly.

To begin with, the deregulated market led to a rapid rise in subscription book clubs. In 1970, there were four book clubs in Sweden, but their market share was small and they were little more than a fringe phenomenon. By 1980, however, there were thirty-nine subscription book clubs with a joint market share of well over 30 percent. Due to the fast expansion and exploitation of the new market conditions, book clubs as a phenomenon was heavily criticized. They became a symbol for bestselling fiction and a commercially driven book market, and were regarded as a threat to quality literature and “good” ways of selling books.70 The gatekeepers in retail—the small centralized group of buyers for bookstore chains and book clubs—became increasingly powerful during this phase. In abandoning fixed book prices, the Swedish book trade became a price-focused venture—a trait that has become increasingly prominent over the last thirty years.

Table 1. Number of bookstores in Sweden81

1950

464

1962

524

1982

425

2014

343

As Table 1 shows, the number of bookstores peaked in the 1960s, when the middle class was still on the increase but before the book market opened up. Ever since then, the bookstores’ market share has been 30 and 40 percent.71 It should be noted that Sweden never had a particularly large number of bookstores. In an international comparison from the early 1950s, it is clear that most European countries had a significantly higher number of stores in relation to the population.72 Since 1970, the market share of book clubs, department stores, and more recently, Internet bookstores has fluctuated. One conclusion that can be drawn is that sales systems have changed. While the bricks-and-mortar bookstores are still regarded as the prime outlet for books, competing sale systems and vendors have been prominent in the business. In the 19th century, traveling booksellers, teachers, and clergymen were important in the dissemination of books; in the late 20th century these were replaced by new kinds of small-scale sales. Mail order, newsstands and minimarkets, supermarkets and department stores, wholesale and book clubs, and more recently, Internet book and e-book sales are all examples of this diverse market.

Apart from changes in books sales and distribution, two features stand out during this phase: the unique position of the pocket book and the support system for what was termed “quality books.” Combined, they have been the means for a more extensive production of diverse and often inexpensive books than otherwise possible. The pocket book, a small format paperback with a very low price introduced in the 1950s and with strong growth ever since, is so deeply embedded in literary culture that it explains the later unsuccessful attempts to introduce e-books in Sweden. The second trait was the introduction in 1976 of a support system for publishing. Publishers can apply for funding for good-quality books, basically covering print costs, in return for keeping prices down. The system, which is still in place in the 21st century, has encouraged a diverse book production, although the notion of quality has been debated from time to time. In the scheme, fiction publishing was dominant for a long time, but since 2000, nonfiction and children’s books have increased their share. Another change that was made during this period is the inclusion of free distribution to libraries of all supported titles.73 All in all, the support system has meant a great deal to small independent publishing and has thus compensated for some of the effects of the liberal and commercial market.

The Digital Book Market

The driving forces in the book trade in Sweden all the way to 1970 were publishing, printing systems, and technological innovations in production. After 1970, the propelling force has been sales, distribution, and other kinds of dissemination. Albeit a generalization, there have obviously also been changes in production in the same period, the most important having been driven by sales, while in the 1990s, Internet book sales had immense impact on the Swedish market.

When Amazon opened its site in 1995, it had a thoroughgoing effect on the Swedish market. Initially, those who sought to use the online bookstore were individuals who wanted to access English-language books, mostly professionals and people with particular interests. The attraction of the sales system was soon obvious, and in 1997, two competing Internet bookstores opened in Sweden: Adlibris and Bokus. These two stores were modeled on Amazon and grew quickly.74 Other competitors entered the market but were unsuccessful, and ever since the late 1990s, Adlibris and Bokus have dominated the Swedish market for online book sales.

Internet bookstores in the 1990s could easily capture market share as they had such low prices. A pricing comparison between the different outlets a few months after their opening in 1997 shows how low their prices were. In some cases, the price was even half of the asking price in a brick-and-mortar store.75 A second important aspect of the Internet bookstores in Sweden was their supply of English-language books. As it turned out, there was a surprisingly strong demand for imported books, which led to turmoil in the business. The conflict concerned sales tax on books, which at the time was 25 percent. The substantial sales of books from Amazon tended to get past customs unnoticed, which meant that people did not have to pay taxes on them. The blatant difference between international and national sales caused quite a stir, and led to the lowering of the sales tax on books in 2002 to 6 percent.76

This historical overview of the Swedish book business in the 19th and 20th centuries demonstrates that it began as a poorly developed market with serious economic, social, and infrastructural issues, but during the period transformed into a well-functioning, albeit small, market with strong international ties. Its development generally kept pace with the country’s socioeconomic history, with the notable exception being that the book business is more liberal and commercial than other parts of trade and industry. Compared to other Western European countries, Sweden has had fewer restrictions and regulations, and thus a highly commercial and price-focused market, since 1970.

Access to forestry and hence inexpensive pulp, inexpensive energy thanks to large hydroelectric plants, and strong industrial growth have been important factors in the rise of the Swedish book trade. These factors helped make printing cheaper and faster, and thus paved the way for the low-priced books that came to dominate the 19th century. Inexpensive books with different ideologies and purposes have been a driving force in the industry at various stages, and have also been one of the most important factors for breaking down the sociocultural barriers to reading. An extensive public library system and national reading campaigns have been important governmental efforts to create a book market for everyone. Still, the inexpensive paperback has reached more people than anything else in the book market.

An important aspect of the Swedish trade is its international character. Yes, the country has a small population and a minor language, but sheer quantity of imports and exports is still striking. Combined with international business relations and Swedish companies’ overseas expansion, the national book business is largely dependent on the global market. The international character of the trade can be explained with a strong translation tradition, an import culture of books in the original language, and in recent years the cross-border character of the digital book market. Swedish authors have also been successful internationally, in relative terms: in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, authors such as August Strindberg and Selma Lagerlöf were translated and they sold well. Children’s literature has been another staple export ever since Astrid Lindgren’s 1945 Pippi Longstocking series.77 The success of Stieg Larsson’s Millennium series since 2005 led to crime fiction becoming the number one book export, which in turn has paved the way for other genres.78 The export of Swedish literature had previously mainly been directed to other Nordic countries and to some extent Germany, but this changed in the 2000s. With the rise of literary agents in Sweden in the 1990s, crime fiction could successfully be promoted all over, and Nordic Noir has had impact on the entire business.79

The modern book trade points toward digitalization. The existing international character of the Swedish book business has made it vulnerable to global companies and at the same time offers new opportunities for Swedish authors and publishers. The digital challenges and changes visible in, for example, the United States and the United Kingdom have influenced Swedish business models and ideas of publishing. Despite being in the very top of the world network readiness index—which means that there is a low resistance to new technology and services—Sweden has still a very small e-book market. It is clear, however, that the business structure of this market is rapidly changing.80 Self-publishing, fan fiction, micropublishing, and online sites for literature and reading are examples of the multitude of small-scale initiatives creating a more diverse market. Global publishing conglomerates such as HarperCollins and educational publisher Infinitas Learning have also invested in the Swedish business. Despite an increasingly polarized market, it is conceivable that the market will be formed by a variety of agents—large and small companies as well as public institutions and private individuals.

Discussion of the Literature

Most research on the Swedish book business is written in Swedish and unfortunately not accessible to many. To a large extent, the research is done within literary studies and in a strong tradition of literary sociology, but in recent years, book history and publishing studies have grown. The few works in English used as references and suggested as further reading are basically the reading material available on the subject. For those with specific interests, there is further research available in Scandinavian studies focused on history or specific authors or literatures.

Further Reading

Algulin, Ingemar. A History of Swedish Literature. Stockholm: Swedish Institute, 1989.Find this resource:

Appel, Charlotte, and Karen Skovgaard-Petersen. “The History of the Book in the Nordic Countries.” In The Oxford Companion to the Book. Edited by Michael F. Suarez and H. R. Woudhuysen, vol. 1, 240–247. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010.Find this resource:

Berglund, Karl. “A Turn to the Rights. The Advent and Impact of Swedish Literary Agents.” In Hype: Bestsellers and Literary Culture. Edited by Jon Helgason, Sara Kärrholm, and Ann Steiner, 67–88. Lund: Nordic Academic Press, 2014.Find this resource:

Gedin, Per I., Literature in the Market Place. London: Faber and Faber, 1977.Find this resource:

Gustafsson, Karl Erik, and Per Rydén, A History of the Press in Sweden. Göteborg: Nordicom, 2010.Find this resource:

Hemmungs Wirtén, Eva. Global Infatuation. Explorations in Transnational Publishing and Texts. Uppsala: Avd. för litteratursociologi, 1998.Find this resource:

Lundblad, Kristina. Bound to Be Modern: Publishers’ Cloth Bindings and the Material Culture of the Book 1840–1914. New Castle, DE: Oak Knoll Press, 2015.Find this resource:

Magnusson, Lars. An Economic History of Sweden. London and New York: Routledge, 2000.Find this resource:

Steiner, Ann. “The Book Trade Expansion: Books and Publishers in Sweden 1945–1970.” Scandinavica 51.2 (2013): 22–37.Find this resource:

Steiner, Ann. “Selling Books and Digital Files: A Comparative Study of the Sales of Books and e-Books in Sweden.” Northern Lights 13 (2015): 11–27.Find this resource:

Svedjedal, Johan. The Literary Web: Literature and Publishing in the Age of Digital Distribution. Stockholm: Kungl. Biblioteket, 2000.Find this resource:

Thomas, Barbro. “Swedish Libraries: An Overview.” IFLA Journal 36.22 (2010): 111–130.Find this resource:

Notes:

(1.) Per I. Gedin, Literature in the Market Place (London: Faber and Faber 1977), 67.

(2.) Johan Svedjedal, The Literary Web: Literature and Publishing in the Age of Digital Distribution (Stockholm: Kungliga Biblioteket, 2000), 39–40.

(3.) Stanley Unwin, The Truth about Publishing, 7th ed. (London: George Allen and Unwin, 1960), 212–213.

(4.) Ann Steiner, “Across the Internet: English Books in Sweden in the 1990s,” Publishing Research Quarterly 20.4 (2005): 71–78.

(5.) Kristina Lundblad, Bound to Be Modern: Publishers’ Cloth Bindings and the Material Culture of the Book 1840–1914 (New Castle, DE: Oak Knoll Press, 2015), 33.

(6.) Lundblad, Bound to be Modern, 33.

(7.) Lundblad, Bound to be Modern, 34.

(8.) Ingemar Algulin, A History of Swedish Literature (Stockholm: Swedish Institute, 1989), 67–68.

(9.) Gunilla Anderman, “Swedish,” in The Oxford Guide to Literature in English Translation, ed. Peter France (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001).

(10.) Gedin, Literature in the Market Place, 68.

(11.) Charlotte Appel and Karen Skovgaard-Petersen, “The History of the Book in the Nordic Countries,” in The Oxford Companion to the Book, eds. Michael F. Suarez and H. R. Woudhuysen, vol. 1 (Oxford: Oxford University Press 2010), 240–247.

(12.) Karl Erik Gustafsson and Per Rydén, A History of the Press in Sweden (Gothenburg: Nordicom 2010), 76.

(13.) Gunnel Furuland, Romanen som vardagsvara: Förläggare, författare och skönlitterära häftesserier i Sverige 1833–1851 från Lars Johan Hierta till Albert Bonnier (Stockholm: LaGun, 2007), 92–94.

(14.) Lundblad, Bound to Be Modern, 58.

(15.) Furuland, Romanen som vardagsvara.

(16.) Furuland, Romanen som vardagsvara., 44.

(17.) Lundblad, Bound to Be Modern, 43.

(18.) Bo Peterson, Välja & Sälja (Stockholm: Norstedts, 2003), 160.

(19.) Svedjedal, The Literary Web, 35.

(20.) Daniel Lindmark, Reading, Writing, and Schooling: Swedish Practices of Education and Literacy, 1650–1880 (Umeå: Umeå University, 2004), 95.

(21.) Lindmark, Reading, Writing, and Schooling, 21.

(22.) Lindmark, Reading, Writing, and Schooling, 146–148.

(23.) Folkskola, lit. “people’s school,” was a compulsory school of originally undefined length, later six years.

(24.) Egil Johansson, “Literacy Studies in Sweden. Some examples,” in Literacy and Society in a Historical Perspective: A Conference Report, ed. Egil Johansson (Umeå: Umeå University, 1973).

(25.) O’Rourke and Williamson, “Around the European Periphery 1870–1913,” 162; Egil Johansson, The History of Literacy in Sweden (Umeå: Umeå University, 1977), 67–69. A comparison between Sweden and France shows that reading skills were considerably higher in Sweden at a much earlier date. In the same study, a comparison between Sweden and the United Kingdom shows that class and gender played a greater role in literacy in the United Kingdom in the 19th century.

(26.) Johansson, The History of Literacy in Sweden, 52 and 58.

(27.) Gedin, Literature in the Market Place, 70–71.

(28.) Lundblad, Bound to Be Modern, 140.

(29.) Lundblad, Bound to Be Modern, 95–96.

(30.) Lundblad, Bound to Be Modern, 125.

(31.) Peterson, Välja & Sälja, 26.

(32.) Gedin, Literature in the Market Place, 76–77.

(33.) Sten Torgersson, Fiktionsprosa på svenska 1866–1900 (Uppsala: Avd. för litteratursociologi, 1990); and Lundblad, Bound to Be Modern, 61.

(34.) Kevin O’Rourke and Jeffrey G. Williamson, “Around the European Periphery 1870–1913: Globalization, Schooling, and Growth,” European Review of Economic History 1 (1997): 153–190.

(35.) Donald Harman Akenson, Ireland, Sweden and the Great European Migration, 1815–1914 (Liverpool, U.K.: Liverpool University Press, 2012), 39 and 189.

(36.) Algulin, A History of Swedish Literature, 109.

(37.) Peterson, Välja & Sälja, 117.

(38.) Peterson, Välja & Sälja, 91.

(39.) Peterson, Välja & Sälja, 9.

(40.) Johan Svedjedal, Bokens samhälle: Svenska Bokförläggareföreningen och svensk bokmarknad 1887–1943 (Stockholm: Svenska Bokförläggareföreningen, 1993), 243–244.

(41.) Kjell Espmark, “The Nobel Prize in Literature,” in The Nobel Prize: The First 100 Years, eds. Agneta Wallin Levinovitz and Nils Ringertz (Stockholm: The Nobel Foundation, 2001), 137–152.

(42.) John Christian Laursen, “Censorship in the Nordic Countries, c. 1750–1890: Transformations in Law, Theory, and Practice,” Journal of Modern European History 3 (2005): 100–116,113–114.

(43.) Adriaan van det Weel, “Modernity and Print II: Europe 1890–1970,” in A Companion to the History of the Book, eds. Simon Eliot and Jonathan Rose (Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2007), 354–367 (354–355).

(44.) Pressbyrån, at its peak in 1947, had well over 1,300 shops and newsstands, and to this day is still the most widespread newsstand and minimarket chain in train stations (Hemmungs-Wirtén, Global Infatuation, 92).

(45.) Svedjedal, Bokens samhälle, 274–279.

(46.) There are one hundred öre to a Swedish krona. In 1910, there was still a twenty-five-öre coin. At this point an unskilled male farmworker was paid around two krona per day and women made about half of that. Industrial workers made more, but they were only a small group.

(47.) Lundblad, Bound to Be Modern, 57–58.

(48.) Svedjedal, Bokens samhälle, 407–409.

(49.) Svedjedal, Bokens samhälle, 187–188.

(50.) The first Nick Carter stories in Sweden ran from 1903 to 1909, but the book series had a strong return in 1966 to 1992.

(51.) Ulf Boëthius, När Nick Carter drevs på flykten: Kampen mot ”smutslitteraturen” i Sverige 1908–1909 (Gidlunds: Stockholm, 1989).

(52.) Svedjedal, Bokens samhälle, 358.

(53.) Lundblad, Bound to Be Modern, 22–23.

(54.) Ann Steiner, “Kommersiell folkbildning,” in Bokhistorier, eds. Kristina Lundblad et al. (Lund: Signum, 2007), 191–200.

(55.) Eva Hemmungs Wirtén, Global Infatuation: Explorations in Transnational Publishing and Texts (Uppsala: Avdelning för litteratursociologi, 1998), 90.

(56.) Hemmungs Wirtén, Global Infatuation, 100.

(57.) Barbro Thomas, “Swedish libraries: An Overview,” IFLA Journal 36.2 (2010): 111–130; and Anders Frenander, “A Hundred Years of Swedish Library Policy?,” conference paper, 2012.

(58.) Magnus Torstensson, “Is There a Nordic Public Library Model?,” Libraries & Culture 28.1 (1993): 59–76.

(59.) Lars Magnusson, An Economic History of Sweden (London: Routledge, 2000), 200.

(60.) Ann Steiner, “The Book Trade Expansion: Books and Publishers in Sweden 1945–1970,” Scandinavica 51.2 (2013): 22–37 (26–27).

(61.) Steiner, “The Book Trade Expansion,” 36.

(62.) Steiner, “The Book Trade Expansion,”, 28–29.

(63.) R. E. Barker, Books for All: A Study of International Book Trade (Paris: UNESCO, 1956), 21. The numbers are not as statistically reliable as one could wish, and should only be used as an indication.

(64.) Gedin, Literature in the Marketplace.

(65.) Gedin, Literature in the Marketplace, 82.

(66.) Ann Steiner, I litteraturens mittfåra: Månadens bok och svensk bokmarknad under 1970-talet (Stockholm: Makadam, 2006), 50–52.

(67.) R. E. Barker and G. R. Davies, eds., Books Are Different: An Account of the Defence of the Net Book Agreement before the Restrictive Practice Court in 1962 (London: Macmillan, 1966).

(68.) International Publishers Association, “Global Fixed Book Price Report,” May 23, 2014.

(69.) Steiner, I litteraturens mittfåra, 46–48.

(70.) Steiner, I litteraturens mittfåra.

(81.) Ann Steiner, “Selling Books and Digital Files: A Comparative Study of the Sales of Books and e-Books in Sweden,” Northern Lights 13 (2015): 11–27.

(71.) Steiner, “Selling Books and Digital Files.”

(72.) Barker, Books for All, 10.

(73.) Litteraturutredningen, “Läsandets kultur,” SOU 2012: 65, 268–277.

(74.) Svedjedal, The Literary Web, 156.

(75.) Svedjedal, The Literary Web, 159–160.

(76.) Steiner, “The Book Trade Expansion.”

(77.) Peter Hunt, “Children’s Literature,” in The Oxford Guide to Literature in English Translation, ed. Peter France (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001).

(78.) Agnes Broomé, “Swedish Literature on the British Market 1998–2013: A Systemic Approach” (PhD diss., University College London, 2014).

(79.) Karl Berglund, “A Turn to the Rights: The Advent and Impact of Swedish Literary Agents,” in Hype: Bestsellers and Literary Culture, eds. Jon Helgason, Sara Kärrholm, and Ann Steiner, 67–88, p. 77; and Karl Berglund, “Detectives in the Literary Market: Statistical Perspectives on the Boom in Swedish Crime Fiction,” Scandinavica 51.2 (2012): 38–57.

(80.) Silja Baller et al., Global Information Technology Report 2016, World Economic Forum, chap. 1.1, table 1, “The Networked Readiness Index 2016,” p. 16.