An Icelandic Publishing Only Prints Books On The Night Of A Full Moon – Then It Burns Any Unsold Copies
For the last 70 years or so, we've all been able to agree that book burning is bad, but what if setting pages alight was part of a publisher's business model? Well, this Icelandic publishing house only prints book during the full moon — then it burns the books that don't sell well. It gets stranger: the publishing house only prints books in batches of 69, and any books left unsold as the moon begins to wane get incinerated, all to keep the Icelandic publisher's titles in high demand.
Tunglið — that's TOONG-lith, the Icelandic word for "moon," pronounced with a voiced "th" at the end — was founded by Dagur Hjartarson, a writer, and Ragnar Helgi Ólafsson, an artist. Their goal was simple: keep inventive manuscripts form "languishing" in publishing limbo by printing them in limited runs that would encourage readers to buy ASAP, or else.
Truth be told, a hyper-literary country Iceland is just about the only place that something like this could work. One in 10 of Iceland's 300,000 residents will publish a book in their lifetime, including Hjartarson, whose novel, The Last Confession of Love, was shortlisted for the European Union Prize for Literature. The country also has the jólabókafloð, or "Christmas Book Flood," a unique holiday tradition of giving books as presents on Christmas Eve.
Tunglið takes small books and creates small, precious moments in time around them. It opposes the eternity that the average publisher promises—all those books whose pages turn yellow on the bookstore shelf—and makes a stand for the beauty of the moment.
Book burning or not, Tunglið's sentiment sounds quite lovely.