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BOOK GIANTS

China and the US make nearly half the world’s books

  • Thu-Huong Ha
By Thu-Huong Ha

Reporter

This article is more than 2 years old.

Two years ago the world’s publishers collectively put out over 1.6 million books. About half of them came from just two countries.

The International Publishers Association (IPA) is a non-profit based in Geneva that studies and promotes global book publishing. Each year the association releases its global publishing stats, and for the past several years China and the US have dominated.

The IPA report released in October (pdf) shows just how big a slice of the pie the two countries hold in terms of new titles. Of the books released in 2015 by the 25 biggest book markets, China published 28% of the total, and the US 20%.

The counts include re-editions of older titles, but not self-published books. The IPA collects their data from a number of sources that count using different methodology, so the association admits it’s not a perfectly consistent dataset. Still, the data give a picture of book publishing powers today:

This shouldn’t come as a shock; China and the US are also the two countries with the most GDP. Another way of thinking about the data is to look at books per capita, which gives us a better sense of book culture within each country. By that measure China is much farther down the list of the top 25 book markets, with the US in the middle. The UK, Iceland, and Denmark are at the top.

countrynew titles per million people
UK2,710
Iceland2,628
Denmark2,326
France1,643
Spain1,552
Switzerland1,482
Netherlands1,405
Norway1,268
Germany1,084
Italy1,078
USA1,043
Georgia969
South Korea909
Saudi Arabia765
Bosnia and Herz731
Sweden695
Argentina687
Finland640
Japan603
Belgium459
Brazil435
China335
Thailand168
Philippines93
Kenya11

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