THE FOG WAS THICKER THAN A MORNING LATTE AND THE TURNING TORSO NOWHERE TO BE SEEN ON A TUESDAY IN LATE FEBRUARY
For Swedes of a certain age it was the morning of the annual Bokrea (book sale), which originated in the 1920ies when book publishers needed to offload overstock. Soon the bookstores joined in, the publishers banded together and the tradition to push pulp in February had begun. At its popularity peak the sales exceeded those at Christmas and some publishers printed editions on cheaper paper especially for the sale. In recent years the advent of the e-book and audio book has eaten in to the sales of printed paper. Yet it is still around and the bigger bookstore chains print paper catalogs and stash piles of books in advance only to cover them up days before the event to build buzz.
On the day when it all starts some bookstores open early (some even at midnight). It is not exactly a mad rush of bookworms but at the largest bookstore in Malmö, Akademibokhandeln at Hansa Compagniet the line to the cashier was well over ten meters at 0730 in the morning as I stopped by. The store had opened at seven, three hours before normal opening hours and been prepared for the onslaught. On hand extra shop assistants guiding buyers around book tables filled with history, biographies, thrillers, cookbooks, young adults…. There was Michelle Obama, Willem Moberg, Dan Brown, bird books, books about forest berries and how to prepare them, road atlases (the still print those??) and lots of crime real and fictitious.
Amongst the early bird byers were parent’s filling red shopping baskets with children’s books and having to push them across the floor enroute to the cashiers. There surely will be some goodnight tales told tonight after a long day at the Bokrea.