Does the Norwegian Government Support Publishers by Purchasing 1,000 Copies of Each New Book?

A tweet lamenting the over-taxation of Kenyan publishers states that the Norwegian government buys 1,000 books from local writers and distributes them to all libraries.


As Kenya’s debt continues to rise, the government continues its borrowing spree to finance its projects and meet shortfalls in the budget. This has seen the national debt rise to over Ksh. 6.7 trillion as at the end of June 2020, leading to concerns among economists and other finance experts. With the taxman failing to meet their targets, the government introduced a raft of taxes to try and cover for the shortfall including the Digital Service Tax (DST) and Value Added Tax (VAT) on published works. This has led writers and publishers to agitate for the government to zero rate VAT on books.

Norway has one of the highest literacy rates, at 99%, with many terming it as a paradise for publishers.


According to Reader’s Digest, the Norwegian government has an Arts Council that helps the central government promote culture, literature and arts. The Council was established in 1965 to administer the Norwegian Cultural Fund. It carries out administrative functions in the cultural field, artists’ grants, the Audio and Visual Fund among other funding schemes. The council is financed by the Ministry of Culture.

The New Statesman further explains that if a new Norwegian book passes quality control, Arts Council Norway purchases 1,000 of its copies to distribute to libraries. The council states on its website which we translated to English that it administers 5 purchasing schemes which are:

  • New Norwegian fiction
  • Translated literature
  • New Norwegian non-fiction
  • New Norwegian non-fiction for children and young people
  • Cartoons


The claim that the Norwegian government buys a thousand copies of newly published Norwegian books to distribute to libraries is TRUE.

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