The World's Largest Publishing Markets

Even with the invention of the internet, reading the written word continues to be a popular past time.
Even with the invention of the internet, reading the written word continues to be a popular past time.

Humans invented writing around five thousand years ago. Researchers believe that Ancient Sumerians were the first who started writing around 3100 BC. Later, it was continued by Ancient Egyptian and Chinese societies, going back to 1200 BC and 3000 BC respectively. The innovation of writing provided the base for publishing. In ancient times, publishing was limited to book keeping, accounting and for the announcement of administrative rules. The writing of key events by rulers laid the foundation for history books and religious manuscripts initiated spiritual publishing.

By 700 BC, thousands of published documents existed in Mesopotamia, all of which were written on clay tablets. On these clay tablets, the first ever written story, “The Epic of Gilgamesh” was found. On the other hand, ancient Egyptians had invented papyrus as a substitute to clay tablets for writing and publishing. One of the most famous writing on papyrus is the “Book of Dead” which dates back to the 2000 BC. In China in 1200 BC, writing could be found on wood, silk, and bones. The invention of paper in the first century AD boosted publication. The oldest published book on paper, “Diamond Sutra”, was found in China. It was written in the eighth century AD.

By eleventh century AD, papermaking technology had reached Europe where the first paper mill was inaugurated in Cordoba, Spain. Soon, these paper mills spread throughout Europe, especially in Italy. The production of paper reduced the prices of writing medium and this boosted writing phenomenally. The invention of moveable typewriters in 1450 AD multiplied the speed of writing and publication. Soon, there were millions of books throughout Europe, Middle East and China. This initiated an ever-growing era of publishing.

The introduction of the internet took publication to a new level. Websites, blogs, online newspapers, and magazines provide us with the cheapest and most easily accessible means of publishing the latest content. Today, we are living in a world where an ocean of new publication appears every day. Publishing has now become one of the most powerful industries in the world. Although publication is a worldwide industry, there are still certain markets that hold a distinctive position in publications. Here, you will find it interesting that the top ten publishing markets in the world generate two third of the total world’s revenue generated by the publishing industry. The following are the top ten publishing markets in the world.

United States

With around 3000 publishing houses and 25 billion Euros of publishing revenue in 2015, the United States of America ranks first as the biggest publishing market in the world. The American publishing market contributes an unmatched amount of revenue that is almost equal to the revenue that is generated combined by the rest of the nine of the top ten publishing markets in the world. Paperback and mass market publication stands prominently in the American market with a sale of around 2 billion units. On the other hand, the number of hardback books sold is 577 million. eBooks and audiobooks accounted for the sale of 505 million units. In addition, children’s and other books added 196 million units to this number.


China ranks second on the list of global publishing markets. It generated 10.51 billion Euros in publishing revenue in 2015. Its publishing industry is growing fast with 583 publishing houses. International trade played an important role in this speedy growth. This is because China is focusing and publishing foreign language books and literature as well. Its online publishing market is also an emerging market that is growing at a great pace that not only publishes content in Chinese, but also in many important foreign languages.


With a revenue of 5.43 billion Euros, Germany is the third biggest publishing market in the world. Online bookshops and ebooks are becoming more and more popular in the country. The German publishing market has witnessed a maximum growth in children’s books sales. Translated versions of foreign language books also added to its share in making Germany a prominent publishing market. In addition to this, many department stores added book sections which resulted in a 16 percent growth in book sales.

United Kingdom

The United Kingdom is the fourth biggest publishing market in the world. The British publishing market showed a steady growth and generated 4.15 billion Euros in 2015. Interestingly, physical book sales increased in the UK, which consequently resulted in a decline in digital and ebook sales. Academic journals, school books, audiobooks and non-fiction books showed a significant growth in sales. A combined 52 percent increase in these categories played an important role in strengthening the British publishing market.


France generated 2.67 billion Euros as revenue in 2015. It ranks fifth in the list of the biggest publishing markets in the world. France has more than 5000 publishing houses, many of which are independent publishing houses and play a vital role in the market. It is one of the most dynamic and fast-growing markets in Europe. The French publishing market can grow even faster if certain barriers are removed. For instance, France has a policy of fixed price for book sales. In addition to that, the publishers are not allowed to offer discounts of more than five percent on books.


The Italian publishing market is one of the key industries in the country. The publishing market of Italy faced a five-year negative trend since 2010. Children books and ebooks made significant growth in 2015. The Italian publishing market also showed improvements in exporting rights of Italian literature. Although the market did not make any major progress, it is becoming stable and gaining growth at a slow but steady pace.

Brazil, Netherlands, Thailand, and Norway make up the remaining part of the list of the top ten biggest publishing markets in the world. For the record, Brazil generated 1.43 billion Euros of revenue in 2015. Foreign investments in the publishing industry have played an important role in its growth. Physical books and bookshops are prominent in the Brazilian publishing market, while ebooks and online sales are still struggling to make their place. Netherlands comes next with a sale of 1.06 billion Euro in the publishing industry. With a steady growth, the Dutch market is yet another prominent publishing market in Europe. The growing markets of Thailand and Norway generated 0.39 and 0.32 billion Euros of revenue respectively, which completes the list of the top ten publishing markets in the world.

Which Are The Biggest Publishing Markets In The World?

RankCountryAnnual publishing revenue in 2015 (in billion euros)
1United States24.99
3Germany 5.43
4United Kingdom4.15

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