Application round has ended, results will be published in mid-June

Our application round ended 1 May. We received a really nice amount of applications, around 130 from foreign publishers and over 50 from Finnish publishers. FILI’s advisory board will have its meeting in mid-June, after which we will publish the results.
Our next application period starts in October.

FILI application round closes on Saturday 1 May

Please note, that the deadline falls on Saturday and there is no online help available then. So the sooner you apply the better: from Mon to Fri we are able to assist on potential technical or practical questions you might have.

The results will be published in mid-June.

Join us for Editors’ Coffee Breaks!

We organised our first virtual Editors’ Coffee Break in early March. About forty foreign and Finnish editors participated in the event. During the Coffee Break, we exchanged news and discussed current issues in the book industry.

Additional virtual coffee breaks are in the works! Next up is an event for non-fiction editors and publishers:  Editors’ Coffee Break Non-Fiction 21.4. from 2 to 3.30 pm (CET)

If you’re interested in participating in the virtual coffee break, please contact FILI’s Päivi Haarala. The events are informal.  Before summer we will also hold a virtual coffee break for children’s and young adult book editors as well as a second meeting for fiction editors.


Semi-annual Finnish Book Market Bulletin January 2021

Coronavirus drives book sales, while hybrid reading makes an impact on figures

As in many other countries, the coronavirus pandemic boosted sales of general trade books in Finland in 2020. While sales of printed books increased by just 2 per cent, demand for audiobooks and ebooks was far greater, leading to an overall increase in trade book sales of 12 per cent from 2019 figures.

Audiobooks in particular benefited during lockdown, even after experiencing strong growth for several years in a row. Audiobook sales more than doubled in 2020 compared to the previous year. While many Finns commuted less than before as they switched to working from home, they also focused on exercise and spending time outdoors, which provided more opportunities to listen to audiobooks.

Audiobooks now represent a significant segment of book sales. Last year they made up nearly a fifth of trade book sales.

Most surprising of all in 2020 was the whopping 84 per cent increase in ebook sales. Ebooks made up only a small share of the total market – smaller than audiobooks – but that growth far outstripped their previous year-on-year increase of 32 per cent.

The increase in ebook sales might be partly a result of the spread of subscription-based book and audio services. While people usually sign up for these services in order to access audiobooks, ebook libraries are included for the same fee. The ease of swapping between audiobooks and ebooks helps to diversify usage across formats.

With the increase in digital book formats, there is less of a difference between fiction and non-fiction titles. Among printed books, non-fiction represents a larger segment than fiction. In audio and ebook formats, though, fiction is bigger – and the gap grew even further in 2020, as sales of fiction ebooks and audiobooks increased more than sales of non-fiction in the same formats. Sales of printed fiction titles increased by 11 per cent last year, while sales of printed non-fiction decreased by 6 per cent.

Audiobook boom spurs company acquisitions

The rise of audiobooks has fuelled a wave of mergers in the Finnish publishing world. There is now a more distinct division into two camps centred around the Otava and WSOY publishing houses respectively. The Otava Group is a family-held corporation which also owns Finland’s market-dominating bookshop chain. WSOY is owned by Sweden’s Bonnier Group. Bonnier also owns bricks-and-mortar bookshops in Finland as well as the Adlibris online bookshop.

Last autumn Otava acquired the Jyväskylä-based publisher Atena Kustannus. In recent years Atena has displayed a knack for spotting trends ahead of other publishers, with a particular strength in non-fiction. Among its biggest successes are the recent boom in colouring books for adults, popular psychology books by the Swedish author Thomas Erikson and last year’s non-fiction blockbuster, Extraordinary Women of History by the Finnish writer and journalist Maria Pettersson, which contains mini-biographies of outstanding and unusual women who have been overlooked by historians.

At Christmastime WSOY announced its acquisition of Docendo, another Jyväskylä-based publisher, as well as Helsinki-based Minerva. The Docendo deal was a sort of homecoming, as Docendo had previously been owned by WSOY but then was spun off in a management buyout in the midst of its parent company’s reorganisation. As an independent company, Docendo widened its offerings from its previous tech-focused non-fiction to include general non-fiction and, in recent years, some fiction as well.

Like Docendo, Minerva’s list focuses on non-fiction. Minerva is Finland’s leading publisher of sports biographies of international figures. The most popular international fiction authors in Finland are Peter James and Pierre Lemaitre.

Publishing mergers have been fuelled by the rise of audiobooks. Larger publishers enjoy a significantly better negotiating position with regard to audiobook and ebook platforms compared to medium and small publishers.

The sales cycle and rate of return on investments for audiobooks differ from those for printed books. If a publisher’s owners are considering a sale, the natural time to do so is before investing in a large-scale audiobook venture. Then again, the backlists of publishers offered for sale take on new value in the audiobook world. Successful series in recently acquired publishers’ backlists have been quickly turned into audiobooks.

Sales topped by humour and thrillers

Top sellers in Finnish fiction in 2020 included Miika Nousiainen’s relationship comedy Pintaremontti (‘Facelift’, published by Otava and represented by Elina Ahlbäck Literary Agency); actor and writer Antti Holma’s Kaikki elämästä(ni) (‘All About [My] Life’, pub. Otava) which plays with the autofiction genre; and the thriller Kotkanperä (‘Eagle’s Nest’, pub. WSOY) by Ilkka Remes, one of Finland’s best-selling writers of the 21st century. These titles sold a total of over 60,000 units across all formats.

Remes’ book sold mainly in print, while Holma’s book was especially popular as an audiobook read by Holma himself. Anni Kytömäki’s Finlandia Award-winning novel Margarita (pub. Gummerus, represented by Helsinki Literary Agency) was the year’s second-best selling fiction title in print, after Remes’ thriller.

Sales of Finnish non-fiction were dominated by biographies and memoirs, while true crime titles topped audiobook sales. The story of gang kingpin Janne Tranberg, Wanted: Janne ‘Nacci’ Tranberg (pub. CrimeTime), written by crime reporter Pekka Lehtinen, achieved sales of more than 55,000 in audio format. The top-selling printed non-fiction title was Suurin niistä on rakkaus (‘The Greatest of These is Love’, pub. Otava, represented by Elina Ahlbäck Literary Agency) by journalist Ulla-Maija Paavilainen about the life of Kirsti Paakkanen, the long-time principal shareholder and chief executive of the Marimekko fashion company.

Far and away the top-selling new Finnish children’s titles were humorous picture books by long-time favourites Mauri Kunnas (Joulupukin joululoma / ‘Santa’s Christmas Holiday’, pub. Otava, represented by Rights & Brands) and the husband-and-wife team of Aino Havukainen and Sami Toivonen (Tatu ja Patu – Kovaa menoa kiskoilla / ‘Tatu and Patu’s Tremendous Train Trip’, pub. Otava, represented by Rights & Brands).

When all formats are taken into account, though, they were edged out by Heinähattu, Vilttitossu ja ärhäkkä koululainen (‘Ruby, Ficelle and the Sassy Schoolgirl’, pub. Tammi, represented by Bonnier Rights) by the sisters Sinikka and Tiina Nopola, originally published in 2013. Audiobook sales of that title were especially strong, boosted by the release in early 2020 of a children’s film based on the book. Although the Ruby and Ficelle books are illustrated throughout, they are text-driven and work very well as audiobooks.

Karo Hämäläinen, journalist
translation: Ruth Urbom


The previous Semi-Annual Finnish Book Market Bulletin (September 2020)

Mentorship programme 2021 starts in February

Mentorship is open to translators at the start of their careers who do not yet have significant experience of translating literature or in translating from Finnish into their own language. 14 mentees were chosen based on their applications. They translate into 10 different languages: Chinese, English, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Polish, Romanian, Russian and Spanish.

The mentorship starts with a webinar 18.2.–19.2.2021 and ends in October.

A record-breaking number of applications in 2020

A total of approximately €700,000 in grants was awarded this year, including more than half a million euros in translation grants to publishers outside Finland. Fully 81 percent of applications were approved for a grant.

The number of applications received in 2020 increased by about a quarter over the previous year’s figure. All in all, grants were awarded for translations of Finnish literature into 40 languages. The largest numbers of grants were awarded for translations into Estonian, German and Russian.

Among authors of books for adults, 10 grants were awarded for translations of Max Seeck’s The Faithful Reader (published in the US as The Witch Hunter), with 9 grants going to works by Sofi Oksanen, 8 to Kjell Westö’s Tritonus, and works by Selja Ahava and Laura Lindstedt each receiving 7 grants. Five grants each went to works by Juhani Karila (author of Fishing for the Little Pike), Pajtim Statovci and Mia Kankimäki.

As usual, the children’s/YA author whose works received the most translation grants this time is Timo Parvela (19 translation grants), with Aino Havukainen & Sami Toivonen, creators of Tatu and Patu, following in second place with 11 grants. In joint third place with 10 translation grants this year were Riikka Jäntti, author of the ‘Little Mouse’ books, and Mauri Kunnas. Next were Laura Ertimo (9 grants) and Magdalena Hai (8 grants). Tove Jansson, a perennial favourite, was also represented with 13 translation grants across her books for adults and children.

Another title worth highlighting is Volter Kilpi’s modernist classic Alastalon salissa (‘In Alastalo’s Parlour’), originally published in 1933, which has been translated into German by Stefan Moster. Mare Verlag has received a translation grant and will publish the book in Germany Autumn 2021.

Applications to FILI’s Translator-in-Residence programme

FILI has its own residency programme for foreign translators of Finnish literature. The residency programme covers part of the travel costs, accommodation and a stipend of 300 euros.

In 2021 the residence period is 15.2.–7.3. in Villa Salin (Lauttasaari, Helsinki).  
The application period starts 2 November and deadline for the applications is 30 November (at 23.59 Finnish time). The applicants will be informed of the decisions by mid-December.

Application instructions & more information:


FILI application round closed on 1 November

Deadline for FILI grants was 1 November. The results will be published in mid-December when FILI’s advisory board has had its meeting.

There has been an increase of over 50% in the applications in 2020 compared to 2019.


Annemarie Raas receives Finnish State Award for Foreign Translators

Annemarie Raas

On 6 October 2020, the Finnish minister of science and culture, Annika Saarikko, granted the State Award for Foreign Translators to the Dutch translator Annemarie Raas. The prize is worth €15,000 and was awarded this year for the forty-fifth time. Raas is the first translator into Dutch to receive the award.

Annemarie Raas began her career 20 years ago, when she assisted her university instructor Marja-Leena Hellings with a translation of a book by the crime fiction writer Matti Yrjänä Joensuu. Since then Raas has completed 47 translations, the most recent being Sofi Oksanen‘s Dog Park.

While Joensuu became one of Raas’s favourite authors, she has also translated detective novels by other writers, including Leena Lehtolainen, Matti Rönkä and Kati Hiekkapelto. But Raas has also produced skilful translations of Aki Ollikainen‘s subtle short novels, Riikka Pulkkinen‘s strong prose and Arto Paasilinna‘s humour, as well as children’s literature by Siri Kolu and Tuutikki Tolonen.

Raas’s work has also been recognised previously with other awards: Siri Kolu’s Me Rosvolat (Me and the Robbersons) was awarded the Zilveren Griffel, the highest prize awarded to children’s books translated into Dutch. Her translation of Rosa Liksom‘s Compartment No. 6 was among the top five finalists for the Dutch Europese Literatuurprijs in 2013.

Annemarie Raas (b. 1968) holds a master’s degree from the University of Groningen, where she studied Finnish language and culture. She was introduced to Finnish already in high school, however, when she spent a year as an exchange student in Jämsä, Finland.

Each year, the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture grants the State Award for Foreign Translators to an accomplished translator of Finnish literature at the recommendation of the advisory board of FILI – Finnish Literature Exchange. The prize was first awarded in 1975 and has a value of €15,000. This year’s award was presented by the minister of science and culture’s state secretary, Tuomo Puumala, on 6 October at the National Library of Finland in Helsinki. Raas participated in the event virtually.

Annemarie Raas’s translations 

List of previous recipients
Media contact:
FILI communications manager Silja Hakulinen, / tel. +358 (0)40 534 7526


FILI translation grant application round opens on 1 October

The last application round for this year opened on 1 October and closes on 1 November. The results will be published after FILI’s advisory board has had its meeting in mid-December.

Our translation grant programme is still part of a joint Nordic campaign in which we guarantee to award a grant covering 50% of translation costs for a project, provided that the application meets the grant criteria and the grants advisory board approves the grant.

Application instructions

Application forms

Semi-annual Finnish Book Market Bulletin September 2020

Book sales boosted by coronavirus while literary exports reach record levels

Finland made it through the first wave of coronavirus this spring mostly unscathed. Finns obeyed the rules set by the government and kept the spread of the virus in check. In isolation, people sought out the company of books. One in four Finns said they had read more than usual this spring.

Public libraries were closed as part of the lockdown, which led people to stock up on reading materials beforehand. Bookshops, along with other retail stores, were allowed to remain open, but customer footfall sank and many shops reduced their opening hours.

Customer numbers at Finland’s largest bookstore, Akateeminen Kirjakauppa in central Helsinki, plunged by 60–70 per cent in April. Sales did not fall as much, though, as average purchases were larger than usual.

The Finnish economy coped relatively well this spring. Key figures from Eurostat show that Finland’s economy shrank by 5.2% in April–June compared to the same period last year, while the EU economy as a whole decreased by as much as 15.0%. The relatively small decrease in Finland’s GDP is partly due to Finns spending their money at home instead of travelling abroad.

Publishing houses continued operating throughout the restrictions without postponing or cancelling publication dates. Staffing requirements did not decrease, so there was no need or possibility for layoffs.

Growth in book sales

Finnish publishers’ sales figures tell a positive story. Publishers’ sales of books for general audiences increased by a whopping 11.3% in the first half of 2020 compared to figures for the same period last year.

That increase was driven by a number of factors. The format seeing strongest growth was audiobooks. Audiobooks are now well enough established that the percentage leaps are no longer just a function of small numbers; digital publications now make up a substantial portion of total book sales.

At the start of the year digital editions accounted for 45% of publishers’ book sales, but that figure also includes dedicated online libraries, which represent half of all digital publication sales. Sales of audiobooks to subscription-based services like Storytel and BookBeat or individual online retail sales in the first half of the year made up one-sixth of publishers’ book sales.

The leading audiobook and ebook subscription service in Finland is BookBeat, which is owned by Bonnier. Storytel is close behind, and several more services with similar offerings entered the Finnish market in the early months of this year. The Sanoma Group has added audio books to its Supla streaming service, and Suomalainen Kirjakauppa – Finland’s largest bookstore chain – had launched its own subscription service.

The largest Finnish publishing houses also publish ebook and audiobook versions of most of their fiction and non-fiction titles for adults. Mid-size publishers pick and choose which of their titles to release as audiobooks, while it is rare for small publishers to release audiobooks.

Some titles – especially chick lit, lad lit and true crime – are acquired primarily for their potential as audiobooks. The major publishers WSOY, Otava and Tammi have also released classic works not previously available on CD or cassette as digital audiobooks.

Another factor in this year’s strong growth in book sales was the fairly steady performance of print books. Quarterly statistics from the Finnish Book Publishers Association show that sales of print books for general audiences in the first three months of this year were just under one per cent below figures from the same period last year.

As travel abroad was virtually non-existent, Finnish consumers spent their money here at home instead.

Crime and autofiction

The bestseller lists for Finnish books were dominated by new titles in crime series by established authors, particularly during the summer months. Elina Backman’s debut thriller, Kun kuningas kuolee (‘When the King Dies’, Otava), has attracted attention from abroad. The Elina Ahlbäck Literary Agency reports foreign rights sales to nine territories. Meanwhile, Bonnier Rights Finland has sold Arttu Tuominen’s crime novel Verivelka (‘The Oath’, WSOY) to six territories.

Among non-fiction books, the year’s early hit was Suurin niistä on rakkaus (‘The Greatest of These Is Love’, Otava) by Ulla-Maija Paavilainen. It is the authorised biography of Kirsti Paakkanen, the long-serving owner and managing director of the Marimekko fashion and textile company. Demand for books on topics like crafts and gardening understandably surged during the coronavirus restrictions.

On the literary side, the boom in autofiction shows no sign of abating. Fictional works with strong autobiographical elements by younger women attracted a great deal of attention in the spring. One such work is Paperilla toinen (‘Like Me’, Kosmos) by Emmi-Liia Sjöholm. Kosmos has made a niche for itself as a publisher of works aimed at thirty-something readers. Philip Teir’s Jungfrustigen (‘Maiden Lane’, Schildts & Söderströms) is another successful title that can be classed as autofiction.

Well-known international names also found their way on to the Finnish fiction bestseller lists, including Elena Ferrante, Camilla Läckberg, Lucinda Riley, Sally Rooney and Elizabeth Strout.

The Finnish children’s and YA publishing scene is vibrant, with strong sales.

Another record for literary exports

The value of foreign rights sold for Finnish literature reached a new record last year of €3.7 million. That is the highest sum achieved in eight years of statistics compiled on behalf of FILI – Finnish Literature Exchange. The true value of literary exports is even higher, because the statistics do not include figures from literary agencies outside Finland that represent some major Finnish writers in the international marketplace.

Children’s and YA books have been a major part of Finnish literary exports for many years. These categories accounted for over half of all foreign rights revenues last year.

Royalties have noticeably increased their share of revenues from literary exports and now account for nearly 40 per cent of the total.

In 2019 over 650 translation rights deals were agreed for Finnish books – an increase of nearly 150 over the previous year. Translation rights were sold to 40 countries. The top countries in terms of revenues from Finnish literary rights were the USA, UK, Japan and Germany.

Karo Hämäläinen, journalist
translation: Ruth Urbom

Finnish literary exports increased in value in 2019

We were delighted to receive the latest analysis of annual Finnish literary exports – once again, the figures are excellent. The gross value of literary exports was €3.7 million, which is the highest figure achieved so far. Revenues have nearly tripled since 2011, the first year monitoring began. Exports increased by 18 per cent over the previous year. Royalties have also continued to increase, measured in euros. This is good news and shows that rights sold abroad continue to generate income later on.

Finnish literary exports 2019 (PDF, 0.8 MB)


Changes to FILI’s promotional grants

Due to the unusual circumstances these days, we have made some changes to our promotional grants, which were originally designed to help cover authors’ travel and accommodation costs for marketing new translations. Because travel is currently very restricted or impossible, you can now apply for grants to cover other costs of publicising new translation of Finnish literature, like virtual author events, interviews, videos etc as well.

These changes to the promotional grants programme will remain in effect until further notice. We ask that you submit your application 2 months before the event. Promotional grant applications can be submitted on a rolling basis – there are no fixed deadlines.

Application instructions