“’For one glorious evening, the book and its author are fully alive. And then, the morning after, everyone can get on with their lives . . . The printed book is a democratic object’, they argue, but one being ‘pushed to the margins’ as some publishers are trying to save the book ‘by turning it into a luxury item’; a desirable object prized for its commercial value rather than its contents.”

Such is the justification of Icelandic publishers Dagur Hjartarson and Ragnar Helgi Ólafsson for their policy of printing only on the night of a full moon; printing only 69 copies; and then burning all copies which remain unsold after that one night. The Guardian story doesn’t disclose how many copies they actually do manage to sell on the night, or their pricing policy. Despite their claim that the author on that night is also “fully alive”, we do not see any hint that writers are encouraged to join their unsold volumes on the brandy-fuelled pyre.

Giving the books to the hungry so they could benefit from the calories they contain does not unfortunately seem to be an option. Quora calculates that a 500 page paperback contains a mere 0.53 calories. Clearly not worth the effort of biting into: better to release those calories as heat.(Link via Shelf Awareness for Readers.)

Tunglið, the name they have chosen for their company, actually means moon in Icelandic.

This story seems to be very popular: I suppose it is quaintly odd — one of these stories where I automatically checked the date to make sure it wasn’t 1 April.

I also did a post about Icelandic writer’s itch a few years ago. Getting rid of books like Tunglið do may help alleviate the “over-writing” phenomenon by stimulating more publishing activity as a result of creating space in the marketplace.