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Monday, December 26, 2016

Reader-Friendly Countries: Iceland and Croatia

Last year on Boxing Day, I suggested we adapt the Icelandic tradition of Jólabókaflóð and give each other books on this day (  Iceland is certainly a reader-friendly country.  It has nearly a 100% literacy rate and publishes more books per capita than any other country.  At least 90 percent of the people read just for pleasure, and the gift most requested by children at Christmas is a book.  It is a country I hope to visit in the not-too-distant future. 

There is a second country that is very reader-friendly.  On St. Nicholas Day earlier this month, Croatians and visitors were given the gift of reading.  The following announcement was made:  “Croatia, what is now an open digital library, is the first country in the world that is truly a Free Reading Zone . . . [because] the top 100,000 digital books from all over the world are available to you to read for free, anywhere within the Croatian borders and without membership cards or special codes. Croatian citizens and those traveling within Croatia can read a plethora of books from around the world, in various languages including Croatian” (  

Information about the initiative, named Croatia Reads, includes the statement that publishers and authors are paid for reads, thanks to funding by government agencies and private donors.

This type of program troubles me a bit since I’m a lover of libraries and bookstores, and I worry about the financial support authors will actually receive.  That being said, I think I’ll put a visit to Croatia on my to-do list.