Publishers in Scandinavia

   Publishers are vital to the health of the literary institution—the network of writers, publishing houses, critics, bookstores, academic literature departments, and so forth— through which books are produced, promoted, read, and studied. The first Scandinavian publishers were bookstore owners who arranged to have books printed; before that, writers often published their own works. Ludvig Holberg, for example, had his books privately printed and sold them from his home.
   Most publishing houses were traditionally located in the capital cities. Copenhagen, in particular, was the center of literary activity not only in Denmark but in Norway and Iceland as well. The most prestigious publisher in Denmark was Gyldendalske Boghandel, Nordisk Forlag (Gyldendal Bookstore, a Nordic Publisher), which under the leadership of Fredrik Hegel published the works of Henrik Ibsen and many other significant writers. When Gyldendal Norsk Forlag (Gyldendal Norwegian Publishers) was formed in Oslo in 1925, it purchased and thus brought home the publication rights to books by Norwegian writers held by its Danish parent company. Another significant Danish publisher of the late 19th century was P. G. Philipsens Forlag, which through 1895 published such writers as Henrik Pontoppidan and Arne Garborg. In Sweden Albert Bonnier s Publishing House had a position similar to that of Gyldendal in Copenhagen.
   The activities of commercial publishers have long been supplemented by the work of various literary societies. The Finnish Literature Society, for example, was founded in 1831, and the Swedish Literary Society in Finland came into being in 1885, while Det Norske Samlaget (The Norwegian Common Publishing Society) was established in 1868 for the purpose of promoting literature written in nynorsk (New Norwegian). In Iceland, Mal og Menning (Language and Culture) was formed as a book club in 1937 and has developed into a diversified modern publishing house. In Denmark, Gyldendal is still the major publisher, while Munksgaard and Museum Tuscula-nums Forlag are of great significance to literature and literary studies. In Finland, Schildt s Publishing House has an important place in Finland-Swedish literary life, as does Soderstrom's Publishers. Ten different Finnish-language publishers publish approximately 80 percent of all Finnish-language books produced in Finland, including older and new literature. Gyldendal Norsk Forlag remains the largest publishing house in Norway, while Aschehoug, Cappelen, Pax, and Samlaget are its major competitors. In Sweden Bonnier remains the most prestigious publishing house. In general, book publishing in Scandinavia is subject to market forces that have tended to reduce the number of independent publishers in favor of increasingly larger and more powerful entities.

Historical Dictionary of Scandinavian Literature and Theater. . 2006.

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