How Many Books are There in the World: The History and Statistics!!

Books are one of the oldest things in the world. The first books date back thousands of years ago. Therefore, it is no wonder that there are numerous books in the world. How many books are there in the world right now? Let’s find out.

The History of Books

We cannot separate the history of books from the development of writing, paper inventions, and printing inventions. Before there were paper and printing inventions, people wrote the records of their lives on clay tablets and sheets of papyrus.



People in Mesopotamia had used the calamus to make inscriptions on soft clay tablets since 3000 BC. Researchers found more than 20,000 tablets in Nineveh. These tablets were the collections of the Assyrian Kingdom.  

This method of recording live events spread to many other regions in Europe, Asia, America, and Africa. People in those regions use tablets for various purposes, such as writing literature, recording legal contracts, and lists of assets. Until the 19th century, people of different cultures still used tablets.



Papyrus sheets come from the stem of a papyrus reed. These sheets were the medium of writing in Ancient Egypt. The first papyrus books found in Ancient Egypt date back to over 2400 BC.

Papyrus books consisted of a scroll of several papyrus sheets whose length could reach up to over 10 meters. Ancient Egyptians used these books to record prayers and sacred texts. 

Ancient Egyptians are not the only people who used papyrus sheets to record their live events. Romans and Greek also used them until the development of parchments. They imported these papyrus sheets from Egypt.

Modern Books

Modern Books 

Modern books are separate sheets of paper bonded together. The development of books started after paper inventions in China. Between 618 and 907 CE, the Chinese started the development of book printing. 

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The book printing technology in China was much more modern than the printing technology in other countries at that time. However, the peak development of book printing in the world did not start until the invention of printing technology by Johannes Guttenberg in the 1440s. 

Since then, the number of printed books in the world increases significantly. In addition, experts kept developing new book printing technologies. 

Therefore, modern book prices are more affordable than the book prices in the Guttenberg era. Moreover, different book types, such as e-books and audiobooks, are now available.

How Many Books are There in the World?

How Many Books are There in the World

How many published books are in the world? According to Google Books, the number of books in the world, since the Gutenberg era to 2010, was 129,864,880. It was very close to 130 million. Now, 12 years later, the number of books must have increased significantly.

How Many Books are There in the Word: Yearly Published Books

Reports predict that almost 4 million new book titles are published each year in the world. On the other hand, UNESCO estimated that 2.2 million new book titles hit the market every year in the world.

Therefore, the number of books in the world in 2022 is approximately between 154 million titles and 170 million titles. These numbers will surely pose a challenge for librarians. Just imagine how many shelves they need to arrange these books.

These numbers do not include unpublished e-books, audiobooks, and self-published books that do not have ISBN. As a result, the real number of books in the world each year is larger than the estimation above.

The Statistics

Despite the availability of e-books and audiobooks, printed books are still popular among readers. Therefore, it is no wonder that millions of books were sold each year in the world. Below are several key points regarding the book market.

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  • A survey in 2020 shows that the print format is the most popular book format in the US. It says that 75% of the US respondents in this survey prefer to read books in print format than in audiobook or e-book format.
  • How many books are there in the world sold every year? Statista said that the amount of book sales per year is up to 650 million units in the world.
  • In 2020, the book-selling revenue in the US reached USD 8.6 billion. Among this number, nearly USD 3 billion came from hardcover sales.
  • The number of physical books sold in 2021 was 826 million copies. It grew 8.9% from the previous year. Moreover, trade paperback sold approximately 450,000 copies in the same year.
  • In 2022, the value of the children’s book market approximately reaches USD 2.2 billion. According to IBISWorld, its average growth rate since 2017 is 3.3% per year.

Self-Published Books

Some book authors choose to self-publish their books instead of commercially publishing them. Most of these books do not have ISBN that researchers and Google Books can track. Consequently, their number is not very clear.

The latest estimation said that there are around 1.7 million self-published books each year. Authors sell them using several different methods. Some of them sell their self-published in the form of e-books.

Meanwhile, others choose to sell print-in-demand books. Therefore, they will only print their books when readers order them. It allows them to minimize printing expenses because they don’t need to print in bulk.

E-Books and Audiobooks

According to Statista reports, the number of e-books sold in the US reached 191 million e-books in 2020. From these sales, the industry generated USD 1.1 billion. It was higher than the 2019 e-book sales which reached USD 983 million.

However, there was a possibility that the number of e-books sold in 2020 is higher than that number. It is because Statista did not get the data from and we all know that is the biggest e-book marketplace.

Meanwhile, in 2020, the number of published audiobooks was 71,000 titles. Reports said that these books generated USD 1.3 billion that year.

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Audiobook sales grew significantly in the last few years. One of the key drivers for this growth is its ease of use which allows people to conveniently listen to a great story.

What are the Most-Read Books of All Time

Among the hundred million book titles in the world, some books are very popular. The three most-read books of all time are:

1. The Holy Bible

The Holy Bible

The first on the list of most-read books of all time is the Holy Bible. The Bible has sold more than 3.9 million copies in the last 50 years. This book contains Christian teaching based on the Lord Jesus Christ and God. It has hymns, prayers, prophecies, parables, and stories in it.

2. The Holy Quran

The Holy Quran is the guidebook for Muslims. It has 114 chapters that are full of religious teachings. Aside from being one of the most-read books, the Quran is also the most recited book of all time.

3. Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling

The Harry Potter series is a massive hit in the book publishing industry. In 2018, this series made 500 million in sales. Harry potter series are not only one of the most popular books in the world but also the most popular movie series.

Which Countries Read the Most Books?

Statista reported that people in India spend more hours reading books than in other countries in the world. The report said that they read books for 10 hours and 42 minutes per week. 

Thailand is the second country that reads the most books. According to the report, Thais spent 9 hours and 24 minutes per week reading books. 

China followed Thailand behind with 8 hours/week. Meanwhile, US citizens only spend 5 hours and 42 minutes per week reading.

How many books are there in the world in 2022? The actual number of books in the world is a bit vague because some authors choose to self-published their books without ISBN. However, it is estimated that this number is between 154 million and 170 million book titles.

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