Visiting My Local Bookshop
When I visited my local bookshop (called Suomalainen Kirjakauppa) in my hometown of Oulu in the Northern Finland, it was August which is the start of a new school year in Finland. I could see that immediately when I stepped into the shop, with signs saying “20 % off from school textbooks”. Although for primary and secondary school, you don’t need to buy any school textbooks in Finland but they are given to you at school for free. It’s just after that, after you turn 16 and enter high school or vocational school that you need to start buying textbooks.
(Suomalainen Kirjakauppa is the biggest chain of book shops in Finland)
The second sign for school terms starting was the amble offering of pens, erasors, rulers and other writing supplies. My daughter Amaya (アマヤ ) was with me that day and she was naturally over the moon with this sight!
Books are usually sold in two formats in Finland, hardback and paperback. (Ebook sales are just starting.) Hardback books, both novels and non-fiction books, either translated into Finnish or originally written in Finnish are quite expensive in Finland I think. Like these ones below ranging from EUR 25 (YEN 3200) to EUR 30 (YEN 3850).
My feeling is that Finnish people prefer paperback books more, as they are cheaper and perhaps even easier to handle when you are reading. At least I do. Paperbacks cost often approximately EUR 6-12 per book and there are often also special sales such as buy four books for the price of three.
This time I had a closer look at children’s books offering. I could immediately find the latest books from the “Ella” and “Risto Räppääjä” series. Both children’s series have been very popular in Finland during the past few years. Ella books have been written by Mr. Timo Parvela and Risto Räppääjä ones by sisters Sinikka and Tiina Nopola. Also Tatu and Patu books (written by Aino Havukainen and Sami Toivonen) are among the most funny books according to many Finnish children. “Risto Räppääjä” and “Tatu and Patu” stories have also been turned into films with a lot of success.
On the top 10 list for children’s books includes “Tatu and Patu”, “Risto Räppääjä” and “Ella” books.
Harry Potter books have naturally also been keenly read both by Finnish children and adults. Now new books by J.K. Rowling, like the Finnish translations of “Quidditch Through the Ages” and “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” have entered the bookshops.
In the Suomalainen Kirjakauppa bookshop in Oulu, I also found children’s books written by an Oulu-based author Päivi Honkakoski. Her Tervatonttu series is a story that tells about elves who make aromatic pine-wood tar. This pine-wood tar making and international sales of it has deep roots in the history of Oulu. Prinsessa Ebba is a story of a pricess who used to live in Oulu too (based on a true story). I wanted to show you some of the lovely illustrations from the Tervatonttujen Joulu book (The Tar-making Elves and Christmas)… with the Northern Lights (オーロラ ), traditional Lapland Sami costume and of course, Santa Claus.
In Finland, bookshops don’t just sell books but also stationery and often also arts supplies. Amaya wanted to buy a friendship book where friends can fill in all kinds of funny details about themselves.
Larger Finnish bookshops also often carry a good selection of English paperbacks. There are foreigners living in Finland who cannot read books in Finnish and also many Finns also prefer to read books in English. (Maybe more than half of the books that I read myself are written in English. For me, reasons for reading books in English are that I cannot find some particular book translated into Finnish, English books generally are cheaper and I also prefer to read books in their original language.)
Monika Luukkonen is a Finnish lifestyle expert, a blog writer and a published non-fiction author. Monika writes books about the Finnish lifestyle for the Japanese market. Her first book ふだん着のフィンランド was published by Graphicsha in Japan in January 2015. Her second book, フィンランド人が教えるほんとうのシンプル was published by Diamond in Japan in September 2016. Her third book will be published in Japan in the late 2017.
Her フィンランド人が教えるほんとうのシンプル has also been translated into other Korean and Mandarin Chinese and has just come out in South Korea and Taiwan.
Monika also writes blog texts for an online shop called Kidemaa which sells Finnish goods to Asia. You can find her texts at www.kidemaa.jp
Monika’s writing themes are: Finnish lifestyle, meaningful life, healthy eating and living, environmental consciousness, Finnish education, women’s life, and the nature. Monika also has has a strong background in international marketing and sales (e.g. in telecoms, medical technology, and business consultancy). Monika has lived both in Japan and the UK twice and is currently living in her home town of Oulu, in the Northern Finland, with her daughter. Monika enjoys reading, walking and cross-country skiing and spending time in the nature.