By Hannah Johnson
Ahead of Finland’s Guest of Honor program at the 2014 Frankfurt Book Fair, Publishing Perspectives spoke with Outi Mäkinen, Director of Literature at Tammi, a 71-year-old establishment in Finnish publishing, particularly in children’s books and translation.
What do you enjoy most about working in book publishing?
Publishing is the storytelling business: to find and publish the best stories by the most interesting authors and to give readers unforgettable experiences. Working with enthusiastic publishing professionals, both Finnish and international, is like having a big family with a common interest: stories. Publishing is never boring, often surprising and constantly inspirational. In fact publishing is not work, it is a way of life.
What are the top 3 things you want people to know about Tammi?
- The Tammi Yellow Library is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year. This series of translated fiction includes 28 Nobel Prize winners and 458 titles overall. Both numbers are expected to rise.
- Tammi is home for several internationally acknowledged Finnish authors: a Finnish female detective novelist who also writes fiction, Leena Lehtolainen; and YA author Salla Simukka, who has become an international sensation.
- Tammi has committed, inspired staff of well-educated publishing professionals. Tammi is visionary in publishing with 71 years of history, constantly inventing and searching for what’s new. We think commercially: we actively search for new content and authors and study the competitors in both domestic and international book markets.
Who are some of Tammi’s most acclaimed authors?
Leena Lehtolainen is the bestselling female crime author in Finland and has written a series of 13 books about a female police detective, Maria Kallio. She also writes fiction and her books have been translated to 28 languages so far.
Salla Simukka has become an international sensation with her YA thrillers. Rights to her Snow White trilogy were sold to 43 countries within one year.
Dr. Tuula Karjalainen is a Finnish art historian and non-fiction writer who has previously worked as a director of the Helsinki Art Museum and the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma in Helsinki. She is the author of the much-acclaimed Tove Jansson biography.
Katri Lipson won the European Literature Prize 2013 with her second novel, Ice Cream Man, and was nominated for the Finlandia Prize with her debut novel, Cosmonaut.
Kristiina Vuori has now written three massive and acclaimed novels in the historical commercial fiction genre. She is the frontrunner of the new rise of this genre in Finland.
Tammi is home for the Finland’s most popular contemporary children’s character, Ricky Rapper, who is the creation of sisters Sinikka Nopola and Tiina Nopola. Together they have authored more than 50 children’s books. The series has been adapted into 4 feature films that all have become major box office hits. The books have sold into 17 languages.
What trends do you notice in Finnish publishing right now?
Historical commercial fiction is clearly on the rise with new authors. Tammi is among the frontrunners in this genre with authors Kaari Utrio and Kristiina Vuori.
The genre called “Finnish weird” has been acknowledged abroad in recent years. Marko Hautala’s literary horror novel belongs to this genre, which takes advantage of Finnish folk tales and myths, both urban and ancient.
Because the e-book market is starting very slowly in Finland, we are still mostly selling physical books. The shift to increase digital publishing is well on its way and as the land of many advanced technical solutions, I am sure we’ll see the rise in digital reading in the near future.
You can find Tammi at the Frankfurt Book Fair in Hall 5.0 A79.