Christmas Book Flood | Recommending reading


Books and stories form the heart and soul of our characters as our emotional engagement with texts lays down our memories and moulds our identities.

Jolabokaflod CIC seeks to reach beyond books as artefacts and reading as a pleasure activity – wonderful as they are in their own right – to explore the alchemy that occurs when the wisdom in great books touches our souls, makes us grow emotional and forms our sense of ourselves. Authors can articulate what we feel and believe better than we can ourselves: they can help us to understand how we see the world and our place in it; they generate memories that give our lives purpose and value.

Starting in 2020, in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, Jolabokaflod CIC is establishing a global campaign to celebrate how individual books shape our lives: Bokpersona

What is Bokpersona?

Existing book trade campaigns deal with processes, products and behaviours: promoting bookshops: e.g. Books Are My Bag; promoting books: e.g. World Book Day; and promoting reading: e.g. Get London Reading). The Bokpersona campaign promotes and celebrates readers by exploring the emotional engagement of our ‘souls’ with books, celebrating how books help us to lay down memories and change our lives by examines our relationships to books and exploring the concept of giving books as the gifting of emotional journeys (to self and to others).

Bokpersona ‘reconnects readers to the life-changing potential of books to enhance their emotional sense of identity (to themselves and to other people), reduce their psychic loneliness, build life-long relationships with texts that evolve over time. and give purpose and context to their lives.’

Bokpersona achieves this in practice by celebrating the gifting memories through books via the programme below that we are establishing in 2020. Every reading experience is unique to each reader: books and stories engage with our individual souls, at subconscious and emotional levels, according to the environmental contexts and location in which find ourselves reading. We have all read books about which we enthuse, ‘This book did this for me’ and ‘This book made me feel _____’.

Jolabokaflod CIC will ensure that Bokpersona is accessible to everyone, irrespective of age, gender, culture, race, class, education level, reading proficiency and/or geographical location.

Bokpersona encourages the borrowing of books through libraries and the purchase of published books via booksellers. Jolabokaflod CIC is seeking partnerships with libraries, publishers and booksellers. Our charity partner is Worldreader, ‘the non-profit champion of digital reading in underserved communities, to create a world where everyone can be a reader.’

In keeping with the Nordic origins of ‘the Christmas book flood’, Jólabókaflóðið, we have chosen a name for the campaign that works well in Icelandic and English. Bókpersóna in Icelandic translates to ‘book character’ in English: the concept that books shape both our character and our persona is right at the heart of what the campaign celebrates.

The Bokpersona programme

Due to the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, we are launching Bokpersona with a systematic approach to social media, curating according to seasonal themes people’s memories and feelings about their favourite books. Led by weekly content at Instagram, our public profile and reader following will grow, ready for expanding the programme post-Covid.

Leading up to Christmas 2021, Jolabokaflod CIC will run the campaign on a UK-wide scale with selected partners to proof the concept ready to scale up the programme globally in 2022.

The beneficiaries of the Bokpersona programme include:

  • Readers – celebration of memories, valuing emotional engagement with books
  • Publishers – marketing opportunities to promote backlist titles
  • Booksellers – sales opportunities for backlist titles
  • Libraries – increased use of facilities
  • Education professionals – direct link between reading and the power of books to change lives

The core of the programme is as follows, from 2021 onwards:

  • Promotion of a shortlist of titles arrived at through competition and judging phases


  • Phase 1: Open competition: readers, PR, communication inside and outside the book trade (costs: digital delivery, PR, marketing)
  • Phase 2: Selection (longlist and shortlist): publishers, booksellers, libraries, PR (costs: judging, digital delivery, PR, marketing)
  • Phase 3: Campaign: readers, publishers, booksellers, libraries, distributors, press, sponsors (costs: books, PR, marketing)
What will happen in 2021?

Next year is the pilot phase for the programme to prove the concept. Jolabokaflod CIC is seeking partners in a single geographical location in the UK (not London) to market-test – plan, do, measure, analyse, improve plan, repeat – in order to product an MVP model of how a national campaign can be run in 2022.

The elements that comprise the pilot phase are: finding the right location; connecting with readers; and building relationships with community affiliates (e.g. bookshops, publishers, libraries, festivals, schools, charities, local/regional government, places of worship).

The pilot programme will be scheduled as follows:

Stage 1
  • Readers share memories
    • Unique emotional responses to texts
    • Which book is your favourite?
      • Made most difference to your life?
      • For gifting to friends and family?
Stage 2
  • Collect and collate memories in public spaces (online and offline)
    • Digital submission over time-limited period (e.g. March [after LBF] to June)
    • Marketing
      • Online: blogs, social media, PR
      • Offline: POS with local stakeholders
    • Reward submissions to optimise volume of entries
Stage 3
  • Judging process to find most impactful books on readers’ lives: the stickiest memories that need passing on
    • Longlist (in-house) – June
    • Shortlist (external, via online survey) – July
Stage 4
  • Communicate shortlist to participating trade partners – August
    • Libraries
    • Bookshops
    • Publishers
    • Distributors
Stage 5
  • Run campaign with partners – September to December
    • POS resources: stickers, bookmarks; posters; fliers
    • PR
    • Collect data for analysis
    • Write White Paper/business plan for national 2022 campaign
Stage 6
  • Encourage the physical gifting of books as Christmas presents (Jolabokaflod phase) – November-December
    • Include January, for the spending of book tokens
What will happen in 2022?

From 2022, Bokpersona will scale up, implementing the lessons learned via the pilot phase. The programme will roll out throughout the UK and beyond. The stages of the programme will be analogous to 2021 but will take place at national and global levels. The programme for 2022 and beyond will also have some extra features:

  • Engage with potential partners for 2022 (starting conversations in 2021)
    • Festivals
    • Celebrities
    • Book trade affiliate partners (e.g. publishers, booksellers, libraries, PR agencies)
    • Sponsors (non-book trade)
    • Press
  • Relate to the Jolabokaflod-friendly concept engaging in a national conversation about books and reading experiencers

How Bokpersona adds value to partner businesses

Jolabokaflod CIC is seeking partners to run the Bokpersona programme via professional networks, online platforms, word of mouth recommendations and book trade expos, such as the London Book Fair (in March 2021).
We offer opportunities to collaborate at all touch points of the Bokpersona programme, namely:
  • Call to action:
    • Phase 1: Open competition – submission of readers memories/stories
  • Engagement:
    • Phase 2: Selection – judging and curating book titles for the longlist and shortlist
    • Phase 3: Campaign – marketing and PR to potential beneficiaries
  • Planning
    • Programme for 2021
    • Programme for 2022

Sister project: BookDate

BookDate was the winning entry – submitted by publisher, book coach and podcaster, Alison Jones – for the ‘Reading for Pleasure Prize‘ competition run by Jolabokaflod CIC at 12R Prizes to find the best ideas for encouraging people to read for pleasure more often.

BookDate encourages people to plan quality time to experience reading as a high-value leisure activity either at home (e.g. nights in) or at appropriate enjoyable locations (e.g. nights out, holidays)

Jolabokaflod CIC will run a crowdfunding campaign for BookDate at CrowdPatch – post-lockdown – to raise funds, followers and marketing buzz to build an online version of the idea for people to use as a real-world resource. We shall donate 10% of the contributions we raise to Worldreader.

There is profitable synergy and symbiosis between BookDate and Bokpersona.