How Many Books Are Published Every Year?

Around the world, thousands of bookstores and libraries are filled with books from top to bottom. It is a bizarre number to think about, but you would not help but be curious: how many books are published annually? 

Approximately 2.2 million books are published every year worldwide. It is difficult to get an accurate figure because no single authority monitors book publishing. ISBN may be used for monitoring, but double-counting may occur. 

You may have come across thousands of books every year. But those are just a fraction of the millions that have been published around the world. Keep reading this article to comprehend the sheer volume of yearly book publishing.  

Number of Books Published Every Year 

According to UNESCO, more than 2 million books are published every year. However, this is just a rough approximation. It is based on the latest data for every country, which is not from consistent years. Some countries have data only from 1990, while the latest data included in the count is from countries with figures from 2011. 

Moreover, it is unclear whether all figures exclude or include reprints or re-publications. For instance, the numbers for the United States indicate that only new books are counted.

Here’s a shortened version of the list. Instead of listing every country, I’m indicating how many countries had their information taken for the last time each year. For example, 2009 was the latest time 7 countries had their number of publications measured.

Number of CountriesYear Number of Books

Updated Figures for Books Published Every Year 

As you may have noticed, many figures included in the 2.2 million approximation are a bit outdated. For instance, more than 30 countries had their latest data from 1996, around 26 years ago. For that reason, I will present some relatively new data from different countries. 

For this section, we will be presenting data from the World Intellectual Property Indicators, a report by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). This paper reflects various publishing figures from different countries. These data are among the most recent available. Difficulty in monitoring published works worldwide means it’s not as accurate as it could be, but it’s one of the best numbers you can get.

Number of Titles Published in 2020 

Publishing data from more than 30 countries were included in the section for the total number of titles per sector. These figures all add up to 1,197,148 or 1.2 million published titles in 2020. However, it is still an approximation, especially since many other countries are not included in the count, such as the USA, the Philippines, etc. 

Here are the countries (included in the 1.2 million count) with the most number of published works for 2020: 

United Kingdom186,000
Russian Federation115,171
Spain 83,622
Republic of Korea65,432

Number of Books Deposited in 2020

Besides monitoring the number of new and revised books published every year, WIPO also indicated the number of books deposited in various countries and repositories. For 2020, around 1,316,227 or 1.3 million works were legally deposited in different repositories. However, this figure does not include certain countries such as the USA or China. 

Here are the countries with the most number of books deposited for 2020: 

United Kingdom169,496

Number of ISBN-Registered Books 

The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is one of the best ways to monitor the number of published works over time. The number acts as a permanent ID for a published work. The ISBN system is administered by the International ISBN Agency, as appointed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). 

For the year 2020, more than 6.3 million books were registered for an ISBN. Of this number, more than 3M were from the United States alone. Although the ISBN figures can approximate the number of published books, it is still not precise since double-counting may occur. For instance, the same title will have one ISBN for its hardcover edition and another for its paperback version. Moreover, not all books may be registered for an ISBN. 

Here are the countries with the most number of ISBN-registered books for 2020:

United States 3,931,270
Republic of Korea329,582
United Kingdom188,553

The US Publishes 600,000 to 1,000,000 New Books Every Year

The ISBN data implies that the US is one of the countries that publish the most books, even though it is not included in WIPO’s total number of published works. But since ISBN is not that precise and may inflate the numbers, it may be a good idea to refer to other sources. 

In a previous article entitled “How Many Books Are Published in the US Each Year?”, we got to a staggering number of publications: around 600,000 to 1,000,000 new titles per year. The year with the most published books was 2009, with 1,052,803 published titles. 

Aside from that, the United States also reported the highest publishing revenue for 2020. For that year, the country’s publishing industry had sales worth $23.6 billion, according to the World Intellectual Property Indicators 2021.   

Final Thoughts

All of the data discussed—from UNESCO, WIPO, ISBN, etc.—agree that millions of books are being published annually. However, an exact figure is difficult to determine because of the logistics of monitoring the thousands of books that are released every day. Some systems are already in place, like ISBN and publishing surveys, to help approximate the numbers. 

Recent Posts Protection Status