Merry Jolabokaflod – get involved with a new grassroots, interactive generic book campaign

Jolabokaflod e1447675636129

Let’s get in the festive spirit and spread our love of books and reading. This is a guest blog from Christopher Norris. Chris is editor and development executive for the Insight Film Festival. He also freelances at CopyGhosting Editorial Services. On 16 November 2015 he launched Jolabokaflod, a generic book campaign that invites everyone to get involved. You can follow Chris on Twitter (@chris24n, @InsightFF and @Jolabokaflod).

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas … at least according to the book trade calendar, with Super Thursday already in distant memory. But how do we pay tribute to the festive season as an industry in the UK, apart from the publication of the Booksellers Association Christmas Books Catalogue, the giving of National Book Tokens as presents, and the marketing efforts of individual companies (such as Quercus for Christmas 2014)?

We can learn to celebrate Christmas (and other ‘Festivals of Light’) the Icelandic way, and help to promote books into the bargain. With more books published and read per citizen than anywhere else in the world (BBC News Magazine), our friends in the ‘Land of Fire and Ice’ clearly know how to get people reading!*

This is where Jólabókaflóð comes in.

Every year, virtually all the new books in Iceland are published in a narrow window in the run up to Christmas. The season starts with the autumn publication of a new books’ catalogue – the bókatíðindi – and ends with the giving of presents on 24 December. Tradition has it that everyone in Iceland spends Christmas Eve reading.

How fabulous is that!

The whole festive rush, from publication dates to getting books into readers’ hands, is called Jólabókaflóð, which translates roughly in English to ‘Christmas book flood’.

There is no reason why the Jólabókaflóð phenomenon should remain a well-kept secret in Iceland. I have launched a series of digital platforms to make it happen here, too, via this BookMachine article and via an RSA Bounce event in London

Here is my plan to start to make an Anglicised version – ‘Jolabokaflod’ – a fixture in the hearts and minds of book lovers like us in the UK and beyond. We can have fun at the same time.

In the run up to the festive season in 2015, join me in pledging to get into the spirit of celebrating Jolabokaflod by doing the following:

1. Buy books to give to your nearest and dearest as presents.

2. Encourage your loved ones to start reading your gift books during the Christmas holiday season.

3. Copy and paste the Jolabokaflod name and slogan – as shown below – into your email signatures between now and Christmas:

Jolabokaflod | Buy * Give * Read | Books are not just for Christmas

4. Mention Jolabokaflod in your emails and on social media. Use the hashtag #Jolabokaflod whenever you chat about the campaign online. Name-drop Jolabokaflod liberally at Twitter (@Jolabokaflod), Facebook (/jolabokaflod), etc., ‘Like’ the campaign wherever it exists online, and encourage your family, friends and followers to do the same.

5. Download and print out this Jolabokaflod bookplate PDF to insert into the books you give as gifts over the Christmas period this year.

The core message of Jolabokaflod is a three-stage invitation for everyone to ‘Buy’, ‘Give’ and ‘Read’. Jolabokaflod is a generic retail and reading campaign rolled into one.

For Christmas 2016, here is how you can play an active part in taking Jolabokaflod from a trickle to a flood. Take control and be a star in your local community and networks:

1. Run a crowdfunding campaign, join one as a volunteer and/or donate money at the Jolabokaflod CrowdPatch for an event or project to help disadvantaged people and vulnerable groups in your local neighbourhood.

2. Champion Jolabokaflod in your place of work or study to encourage everyone to get involved. This is a campaign where everyone can join in.

3. Tell me your Jolabokaflod news, write for the various branded websites, add comments on blogs, make contacts, and share stories on social media.

Here are the places where you can find Jolabokaflod online:

Join in the conversation, get actively involved and share your enthusiasm for Jolabokaflod both online and face-to-face.

Get in touch with me via email at to share your news, stories, photos, videos, suggestions, comments and opportunities about Jolabokaflod.

Let’s have fun with the Jolabokaflod campaign this year and next – as I’ve already said, it’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas.

* In 2013, in Iceland published 3.13 books per thousand citizens; in the UK the figure was 2.87 (‘UK publishes more books per capita than any other country, report shows’, Guardian, 22 October 2014)

Christopher Norris e1453165808188Chris has been actively involved in several general book promotion campaigns in his 25-year career, notably serving on the steering community for the inaugural World Book Day and acting as consultant producer for the ITV book series, You’re Booked! Chris was a member of the influential ginger group, Booksn, which pressed for generic book promotion within the book trade.

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