Scandinavian thriller books are exported on a large scale, however it is unclear how successful Scandinavian books are in Europe and if the chance of success and degree of popularity depends on Scandinavian culture in the books. By analyzing bestseller lists, this study investigates the extent to which there is an influence of cultural identification, as assumed by the cultural proximity theory of Straubhaar. In addition, the impact of the position of the Scandinavian language and the language of the country to which Scandinavian thriller books are exported is being investigated, as discussed in Heilbron’s cultural world system. Lastly, the impact of gender equality has been researched. As gender equality is an important value in the Scandinavian thriller books, the degree of gender equality in a country could be a factor for the degree of success and popularity of these books. The formulated research question stated: "To what extent does the proportion of Scandinavian thriller books differ in the period 2010/2011 and 2014/2015 in bestseller lists in Eastern, Southern and Western Europe and can possible differences be explained based on the cultural proximity theory, cultural world system and gender equality? ". For each region in Europe two countries were selected. Success was measured by looking at how many Scandinavian thriller books of the total amount of Scandinavian thriller books, were presented in a country’s bestsellers list. Popularity was measured by looking at the number of weeks that one book was in a country’s bestsellers list. Using cross tables, ANOVA tests and multilevel analysis, the bestseller lists have been analyzed in SPSS. Scandinavian thriller books have a large share within the thriller genre. The share of Scandinavian thriller books in bestseller lists does not appear to have increased or decreased. Differences between countries could not be explained directly from the cultural proximity theory, the cultural world system or gender equality. Although the effect is not consistent, there has been a small impact on cultural proximity and gender equality in a country. More gender equality leads to more popularity and contrary to what was assumed, greater cultural distance appears to ensure increased popularity. However, due to the inconsistency and the relatively small impact, the effect of cultural proximity and gender equality can be called into question. Possibly Scandinavian thrillers or the ‘thriller’ genre may in Europe have a universal attraction. A striking result was that, despite the idea that the success of the books is due to gender equality, these books often contain strong female main characters and are written by many successful female writers, most successful Scandinavian thriller books in European bestseller lists still have male writers and protagonists. Due to the relatively low amount of Scandinavian thriller books that have been analyzed, the results must be interpreted with caution. Because of this relatively low quantity, some successful books and authors can quickly become dominant and thus have had a possible influence on the overall results. In order to better understand the success and popularity of Scandinavian thriller books, future research should focus on the earlier success of authors, the role of the media that promotes these books and the choices taken by publishers. In this way one can better understand how Scandinavian thriller books spread to other countries and the secret behind the success of the Scandinavian thriller books can be further uncovered.

, , , , , , , , ,
M. Verboord
Media en Cultuur
Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication

M. Bakuwel. (2017, June 22). HET MYSTERIE VAN DE SCANDINAVISCHE THRILLER Een onderzoek naar de rol van culturele kenmerken bij het succes en de populariteit van Scandinavische thrillerboeken in Europa. Media en Cultuur. Retrieved from