Which country publishes the most books a year?

If you had to take a guess on this subject the chances are you would come up with the answer “The United States of America” and by and large you would be right.

But I say “By and large” because twice in the last 20 years the United Kingdom has overtaken the United States in book production – which is quite extraordinary when one considers the size of each country both in terms of its population and of its economy.

The latest figures available show that the US is currently ahead of the UK, publishing around 288,000 new titles a year, against 206,000 – although figures for the last five years in the UK are hard to come by.

When you think about it 206,000 is indeed a huge number of new titles – and obviously we are excluding reprints of classics, second editions and the like.

If we assume that each author writes one book a year it means that something like 0.3% of the UK population is a published author each year.   Overall it might mean that around 2% or even 3% of the country has written and had published a book in his/her lifetime.

There seems to be only a tenuous link between population totals with the number of books published.  China is third in the league table with 136,000 books published a year, but Germany has only 93,000, despite a population some 20 million larger than the UK’s.

Looking next on the list we find the Russian Federation with 123,000 new titles as the fourth largest publisher, followed by Germany and then Spain, India, Japan, France and Iran making up the top ten.

Iceland with a population of just 319,000 published 1533 new titles in 2007, which suggests that nearly half of one percent of the population publishes a new book each year – quite a remarkably literate society in terms of its writing activity.

At the low end of the list we have Oman (7 titles), Ecuador (12 titles), Burkina Faso (12 titles) and Gambia (14 titles).

If we were to keep analysing the number of residents divided by the resident population, the country that would emerge with the most writers would be Vatican City (228 titles and 826 books), but the unique nature of the city state means that the comparison breaks down at this point.

In fact no “normal” country (if I can put it like that) can beat Iceland for the number of books published measured against the population – the UK comes second.

Of course, being in a country that produces so many books per head of population you’ll probably have some that you want to keep hold of, but which you have little room to store.  That’s why Admiral exists.  We can store them for you and have them available whenever you want.

There’s more information on our website or give us a call on 01922 632227.

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