In English

Book publishing in Finland


The first Finnish book was printed in Latin in the year 1488. The first work in Finnish was an ABC book, published in 1543 by Bishop Mikael Agricola, the father of Finnish literature.

Between 1540 and 1809 (the year when Finland became a part of the Russian Empire as an autonomous grand duchy) about 1500 Finnish books were published, 5-6 books a year. In the 1850s annual production was around 200 titles and at the end of the century about 1000 titles.

In 1858 the Finnish Book Publishers Association was founded, its purpose being ”to give support to organized publishing and improve the material benefits of literature”. The Association accepted as members booksellers who received books on a commission basis and rendered their accounts once a year.

During the 20th century book production and the number of bookstores have grown rapidly. In 1920, yearly production was almost 2000 titles, after which the book trade encountered difficulties. It was not until 1945 that production exceeded 2000 titles. After a period of decline a new record of 3300 titles was set in the mid-1960s. Sales tax introduced at that time led to stagnation but, despite this, by the 1980s production exceeded 5000 titles.

Many Finnish publishing houses were founded back in the 19th century:

Suomen Pipliaseura (Finnish Bible Society)1812
SKS (Finnish Literature Society)1831
Werner Söderström (WSOY)1878
Söderström & Co1891

The present situation

In 2004 the Finnish Book Publishers Association (Suomen Kustannusyhdistys) has 94 members. These include the ten biggest publishers, which represent about 80 per cent of total production. There are several hundred publishers registered with the Finnish ISBN Centre but the majority are scientific or other organizations publishing only a few books.

Many of the major publishers have their own printing houses and are general publishers. In Finland the linguistic territory and the reading public are so small that specializing and differentation are difficult. Fortunately the Finns read proportionately more than many other people. Print runs are relatively short, which presents pricing and royalty problems.

At the end of the 1960s there were about 750 bookstores and their branches in Finland. Fixed prices were abolished in 1971 and since then the number of stores has decreased so that by 1995 there were about 450 bookstores left. In addition books are sold at hundreds of kiosks and other outlets. Compared to the population, the Finnish bookstore network is still one of the most extensive in the world, although most of the stores are small. Roughly half of their sales comes from books, the remainder from other articles.

About 40 % of the total number of books printed in Finland are sold by bookstores. Five book clubs, owned by the major publishers, have not increased their market share in recent years.

The Finnish Book Publishers Association / Suomen Kustannusyhdistys


  • Leena Majander (Otava Publishers), President
  • Pirjo Valtanen (Sanoma Magazines Finland)
  • Niko Aula (Loki-kirjat)
  • Marianne Bargum (Söderströms & Co Förlagsaktiebolag)
  • Jorma Kaimio (WSOY), Vice-President
  • Ilkka Kylmälä (Gummerus Publishers)
  • Timo Lepistö (Edita Publishing Ltd)
  • Anne Valsta (Tammi Publishers)
  • Pertti Rosenholm (Lasten Keskus)
  • Managing Director: Veikko Sonninen