Writing books won’t make you rich in Finland. Here, it’s a success if you sell a few thousand copies; most books sell fewer than a thousand. An author receives two or three euros for each book sold.
Last Saturday, the Association of Finnish Non-fiction Writers organized a panel for parliamentary candidates. Participants included Leena Kostiainen (National Coalition), Jouni Ovaska (Center), Oras Tynkkynen (Greens) and Pia Viitanen (Social Democrats). The politicians agreed on the need to strengthen the position of Finnish-language literature. In a small language area, support is needed to maintain a diverse community of writers. Books, reading and libraries are among Finland’s main strengths.
Writers received good news during the last parliamentary term, when Finland finally reached the level of other Nordic countries for government payments to writers whose books are in public libraries. Next summer, the VAT on electronic books will decrease, as has long been desired. However, concerns continue regarding non-fiction’s unequal share of library grants awarded, as well as a reduction of remuneration from copyrighted material. Non-fiction grants are based almost solely on the revenue from those remunerations.
According to the association’s executive director, Jukka-Pekka Pietiäinen, writers would receive a slight boost if people could buy books using tax-free recreation tickets from their employers. Until now, these have only been valid for sports and cultural events. The panelists agreed that this is a great idea.