Global Readers of English

In the United States, Digital Book World.com reported, “In 2012, for the first time ever, online channels accounted for more book purchases than bricks-and-mortar retail in the U.S., according to new data from Bowker Market Research.

“In 2012 (through Nov.), 43.8% of books bought by consumers were sold online versus 31.6% sold in large retail chains, independent bookstores, other mass merchandisers and supermarkets. This is nearly a direct reversal of the situation in 2011, when 35.1% of books were sold online and 41.7% were sold in stores.”

In addition, Jeff Bezos said in the company’s fourth-quarter earnings report, “After five years, e-books [are] a multibillion-dollar category for us and growing fast—up approximately 70 percent last year. In contrast, our physical book sales experienced the lowest December growth rate in our 17 years as a book seller, up just five percent.” Source: Business Week.com (January 31, 2013)

Let’s look at this from a global perspective.

According to the British Council.org, there are about 1.5 billion English speakers in the world living mostly in seventy-one countries where there are at least a million or more English speakers (not counting Hong Kong, mainland China has 10 million), but how many are avid readers of English—someone who might buy books published in English?

With more books—including e-books—being sold online, you may want to know how many global readers are out there who might want to read a book published in English.

To get an idea, in this post, we’ll focus on five countries with a potentially large market for books published only in English.

1. United States
2. India
3. United Kingdom
4.
Canada
5.
Australia

For the United States, Book Business Magazine says 62.4 million Americans (20% of total population) are avid readers and 63% are women—34.9 million—leaving 23 million men.

Among avid readers in America surveyed by the AP, the typical woman reads nine books a year, compared with only five for men. Women read more than men in all categories except for history and biography. Source: npr.org

In India, the Deccan Herald quoted Ken Follet saying India has more English speaking readers than England … and increasing numbers of books are being sold here … There are apparently 89 million people in India for whom English is the first language. It is more than the number in England.

In addition, The Hindu.com reported, “Boom time for English-language books in India” … the number of books published in English is growing by 30 percent a year.

And “India is the only country in which books are published in some 18 languages, with English representing the most significant share at approx. 40-45 %. India ranks third behind the USA and England in the publication of English-language books. Source: buchmesse.de

In the United Kingdom—population 62.6 million—even with discounting, last year UK consumer publishing drew in sales of £1.7bn, up 36% on 2001. Adult fiction saw an increase of 44%, to £476m; and young adult and children’s fiction … saw sales more than double to £325m. Source: guardian.co.uk

Canada—population 34.5 millionCBC News reported January 2011, that Canadians buy about 2.7 million books a week. … Canada’s population is about 34.5 million, but 42% of Canadians are semi-illiterate and probably do not read many books leaving about 8.56 million Canadian adults—24.8%—that may be avid readers. Source: cbc.ca

Australia—population about 23 million—isn’t much better than Canada with 47% considered functionally illiterate. “That means they can’t read the instructions on a medicine bottle, they can’t read a map, they can’t read a recipe.” Source: abc.net.au

However, a major survey of how Australia engages with the arts revealed that 85% of Austrians—who had to be literate enough to read and answer the survey—are avid readers of poetry and literature. Source: the australian.com

Crunch the numbers and Australia may have 8.3 million avid readers—36%.

Note: To arrive at these numbers, children age 14 and younger were subtracted from the total along with the functionally illiterate.

You may be wondering how authors in, say, America, may sell his or her books in India, for example. Well, that’s where Kobo, Amazon and Apple help out.

Amazon has sold my English language e-books—for example—in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Spain, France and Germany.

Kobo has sold my work in the US, Canada and Great Britain while Apple’s iBookstore has sold copies in the US, Great Britain, Canada, and Australia.

In fact, Apple’s iBookstore is available in 51 countries and offers hundreds of categories including cookbooks, history books, biographies, picture books and children’s books with free books available in 155 countries. Source: Apple.com

Countries where there is an Apple iBookstore:

Argentina
Australia
Austria
Belgium
Bolivia
Brazil
Bulgaria
Canada
Chile
Colombia
Costa Rica
Cyprus
Czech Republic
Denmark
Dominican Republic
Ecuador
El Salvador
Estonia
Finland
France
Germany
Greece
Guatemala
Honduras
Hungary
Ireland
Italy
Japan
Latvia
Lithuania
Luxembourg
Malta
Mexico
Netherlands
New Zealand
Nicaragua
Norway
Panama
Paraguay
Peru
Poland
Portugal
Romania
Slovakia
Slovenia
Spain
Sweden
Switzerland
United Kingdom
United States
Venezuela

Source: Smashwords.com

In addition, Amazon sells books in 11 countries:

Austria
Canada
China
France
Germany
India
Italy
Japan
Spain
United Kingdom
United States

 Source: Amazon.com

Note: On March 18, 2013, it was reported that Amazon opened an iBookstore in Taiwan.

And what about KOBO?

According to Kobo, they have attracted millions of readers from more than 170 countries, and Kobo-owner Rakuten’s CEO Hiroshi Mikitani has additionally stated that Kobo is “number one in France; they’re ahead of Amazon in Japan, partially because of us, and Australia and New Zealand as well.”

Then there is the Sony eBook Library store.

Discover more at Authors Finding Readers

_______________________

Lloyd Lofthouse, a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran,
is the award winning author of The Concubine Saga.

His latest novel is Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to hate and kill Americans.

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