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Anna Baijars

Anna Kristina Baijars
Born September 27, 1966 Helsinki

Master of Arts (General Literature), University of Helsinki, 1994
Small Business Diploma, Small Business Centre, Helsinki School of Economics, 1994

Publishing Director, Gummerus Publishers, 2013-
Publishing Director, WSOY, 2008–2009
Publishing Director, Gummerus, 2005–2008
Publishing Manager, Gummerus, 2000–2004
Project Secretary, Union of Finnish Writers, 1994–1996
Religious Education Teacher, Roihuvuori Lower Secondary School, 1991–1992
Script Supervisor, Finnish Broadcasting Company, 1988–1990

Photo: Marek Sabogal
Written by Anna Baijars (Riitta-Ilona Hurmerinta, ed.)
Translated by John Calton

The Business of Telling Stories

When I studied literature I didn’t really come to think that behind the books there might be other people than the author. I couldn’t even dream up a profession that would be the answer to my dreams. A publisher backs the author, and makes their dream come true. The publisher reads an inordinately large number of poor manuscripts, mutters some oath or other, and when a decent manuscript eventually lands on the desk our publisher is in a hurry to say YES. And then the book is introduced to the reader.

'Kaikki taivaan linnut' (Finnish translation of Harper Lee’s 'Go Set A Watchman')​
'Kaikki taivaan linnut' (Finnish translation of Harper Lee’s 'Go Set A Watchman')​

Publishing is a passionate profession, which has got it all: social impact, commercial transaction, internationalism, economy, technology and interesting people. The publisher is working with the core of humanity, on the edge of stories and learning.

Publishing is right there with the societal and technological clashes: it flourishes and flops, rises and refreshes the world through change. In the course of my career I have experienced how with technology the original model for publishing reached its peak, and technology turned the 150-year-old routine procedures upside down. Publishing had to join the twenty-first century, and it wasn’t going to be without a degree of pain. The time had come to talk about money alongside the printed word, as the changing world swept revenue streams into new tributaries. Ownership shifted from private hands to corporations, and the character of many a company changed, when there was no longer an owner to talk to. The wealthy gentleman publishers had had their day.

We’re now living in a very different technological and intellectual climate than even ten years back. The rapid flow of information presents the publishers and writers with huge opportunities to reach new readers and entice reflective types thirsty for linguistic adventure to pick up a book. I sense we’re living in a time of opportunities. Finnish writing is doing well: books are appealing, stirring and moving. There are more occasions for readers and writers to meet than ever before. The age of publishers as bridge-builders is here.

Anni Kytömäki and Anna Baijars in Helsinki’s Academic Bookshop.​
Anni Kytömäki and Anna Baijars in Helsinki’s Academic Bookshop.​

Anna Baijars has worked as publishing director at Gummerus since 2013.

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