Q&A with Swedish Publishers Association Chairman Eva Bonnier

In Europe, Frankfurt 2011 by Edward Nawotka

Eva Bonnier, one of Sweden’s top publishing figures, talks about the Swedish publishing market, digitization and Tomas Tranströmer

By Edward Nawotka

Albert Bonniers Förlag was founded 1837 and is the largest publishing house in Sweden. Eva Bonnier was the first woman publisher in the Bonnier family and has been witness to recent dramatic changes in the Swedish publishing industry. She spoke to Publishing Perspectives on her role as chairman of the Swedish Publishers Association.

On the Market
The overall market has dropped and bookstores are having a very hard time. On the other hand, sales for the Internet bookstores, Adlibris and Bokus, have been quite good and they now have 20% of the market, which is quite a lot.

On Book Prices
Some people are starting to talk about reintroducing fixed book prices to Sweden. We have had open market book pricing since the 1970s, but I don’t think that is going to happen. It would be too hard to go back to fixed prices.

On E-books
It’s going to be important, but we don’t know how important. We’re simply waiting to see what is going to happen. Publishers have started doing e-books, but there are not that many in the market. We also don’t have the Kindle in Sweden, nor many devices.

On Translation and Royalties
We have had some issues about how translators will be paid with regard to e-books and if there will be any escalators. We plan to have a signed agreement in place before Christmas, though we don’t know how far reaching the agreement will be. The one thing we know is that everyone wants more money.

On Territoriality
When the American publishers sell their books here as export editions, it can be a problem for Swedish publishers. It takes almost a year before the same book is published in Sweden. If it is an important book, we make an effort to publish it quickly so as not to lose face and sales.

On Tomas Tranströmer’s Nobel Win
I didn’t dare to hope, so I didn’t watch the broadcast this year. I just sat in front of my computer.

DISCUSS: When Will Local E-book Editions Compete with English Counterparts?

About the Author

Edward Nawotka

A widely published critic and essayist, Edward Nawotka serves as a speaker, educator and consultant for institutions and businesses involved in the global publishing and content industries. He was also editor-in-chief of Publishing Perspectives since the launch of the publication in 2009 until January 2016.