What is a book town?
Whatever the name: Bokby – village du livres – book town – kirjakylä , they are all small villages dominated by the sale of second-hand books. There are several reasons for the recent increase in the second hand book trade:
- Never have so many books been written and edited, and never has space in ordinary bookshops been more valuable, and so their supply of books changes quickly.
- We have more leisure time for reading, and we often search for books that are out of print.
- Books are of course nice to have, but rather cumbersome when moving house, for instance, and then some of these books find their way into second-hand bookshops, waiting there for new, grateful owners.
It all started, when Richard Booth of Hay-on-Wye began filling up the abandoned cinema in his small home-town with second-hand books by the thousands in the early 1960s. Since then, every empty space has been filled with books. This huge amount of second-hand books soon drew book-lovers from all over the world, and related shops like book-binders and others, also sprang up. The once small and dying-out village was given new life, now visited by millions of people.
The book town is a further development from the traditional antiquarian bookshops, offering a wider variety of books, in a smaller area. The idea spread, and there are now book towns all over the world, answering to the needs of book-lovers.
About The Norwegian Book Town in Fjærland
The Norwegian Book Town in Fjærland started out very modestly in 1995, and now stocks about 2.5 miles of shelving, filled with books, in a variety of abandoned buildings – from ferry waiting rooms, stables and local banks to post office and grocery shop. Besides taking care of books, the idea here was also to preserve the old buildings, this makes some of the shops rather exceptional and characteristic.
You here find small, specialised shops, some of them in connection with other trades like the two hotels and the arts & crafts shop, and quite large shops selling only second-hand books: Straumsvågs Antikvariat and Den norske bokbyen A/S.
The shops in The Norwegian Book Town are open 10am-6pm every day from May to September, every day from 10 am to 6 pm. Requests by e-mail, post, fax or telephone are served all through the year, and the book town enjoys a lively postal order business.