WSOY celebrated its 130th anniversary in 2008. The year marked also the 100th anniversary of the famous Finnish writer Mika Waltari. Last year was successful and full of celebration in many ways.
Year 2008 got a good start, although spring is traditionally low season for book publishing business, which focuses on Father's Day and Christmas season. WSOY, however, has invested in publishing interesting titles, also Finnish ones, in spring as well. Last spring was a great example of suucceeding in this effort: Novels published in spring, such as Puhdistus (Purge) by Sofi Oksanen and Marie by Arne Nevanlinna fascinated and still fascinate readers.
Great books in many award categories
"Year 2008 was successful both with the books published and economically as well. We were especially pleased with the success of Finnish literature and its many award nominations and awards achieved," says WSOY's Marketing Manager Mari Männistö.
"Puhdistus by Sofi Oksanen won the Finlandia Literary Prize in 2008. The novel equals to Juoksuhaudantie (Trench Coat) by Kari Hotakainen as a reading experience that connects the Finnish people – if not even exceeds it," Männistö continues.
The novel Puhdistus sold around 20,000 copies already before winning the Finlandia Literary Prize. Its translation rights are sold to 17 countries. Puhdistus unveils the silent recent history of Estonia and tells the story of two women of different generations, exploring their experiences with the loss of freedom. Originally Oksanen wrote her novel in the form of a play, yet the transformation into a novel succeeded beyond all expectations.
The sales figures speak for themselves. Puhdistus has sold over 100.000 copies already. Oksasen's novel became the best-selling Finlandia Literary Prize winner ever. It surpassed the sales of Juoksuhaudantie, which sold 70.000 copies the year it was published, in 2002.
WSOY's nonfiction publishing received many award nominations in 2008. The efforts were crowned when Marjo T. Nurminen won the Tieto-Finlandia Literary Prize, which is considered the most significant nonfiction award in Finland. Both literary prizes, Finlandia and Tieto-Finlandia, are worth 30.000 euros.
Other successes of the year
"There were bestsellers also amongst translated literature. The youth's favourite, Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer was a huge success – and the triumph continues. The first three novels of the series have together sold over 57.000 copies so far. The fourth novel is published next autumn," Männistö rejoices. The Twilight series has gained worldwide success and it is seen to become as successful as Harry Potter. The movie based on the first novel was released in Finnkino movie theatres on 2 January 2009.
Jari Tervo's novel Troikka was well received among the reading audience, and it drew plenty of media attention. Troikka became Tervo's all-time bestseller. Also Ilkka Remes continued at the top of the selling lists. Book lovers were pleased with Stieg Larsson's last novel Luftslottet som sprängdes (The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets' Nest), which was published in Finnish in early summer. The first part of Larsson's praised trilogy, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, will be released on film in Finnkino movie theatres on 27 March 2009 when the film has its Nordic premiere.
WSOY's Foreign Rights department had a great year as well. The department is responsible for introducing Finnish novels to publishers abroad. Last year it made a record number of contracts, and the first real sales trip to Moscow too. Additionally, the Asian market became more significant for WSOY, which is the first Finnish publishing house to sell rights to books in China.
"In all, year 2008 will be remembered as one of the most successful ones ever in the history of WSOY. The shine of WSOY's 130th anniversary was brightened by the 100th anniversary production of Mika Waltari, and completed by Unio Mystica, Waltar'is biography by Panu Rajala. It seems that in spite of the financial recession, or actually as a result of it, people still enjoy spending time with things more spiritual – with books," Männistö ponders.
WSOY is part of the Sanoma Learning & Literature division of the Sanoma Group.