Global Readers of English

In the United States, Digital Book 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 (January 31, 2013)

Let’s look at this from a global perspective.

According to the British, 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

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:

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 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:

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:

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:

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:

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

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:

Countries where there is an Apple iBookstore:

Costa Rica
Czech Republic
Dominican Republic
El Salvador
New Zealand
United Kingdom
United States


In addition, Amazon sells books in 11 countries:

United Kingdom
United States


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.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”

The NEED to Edit – Part 6/6

Even though I taught seventh to tenth grade English in the public schools (1978 – 2005) and was the advisor/teacher of an internationally recognized, award-winning, high-school journalism program, I am not a perfectionist (an ARG) when it comes to editing. I do my best as an imperfect mortal with dyslexia.

My students did well (above average) on standardized tests. I taught the basic rules of punctuation, the differences between a simple, compound and complex sentence, and how to write a basic essay in addition to an introduction to the parts of speech. The textbook I used was Warriner’s English Grammar and Composition (I have two editions on my resource shelf) with almost 600 pages filled with the complexity of the English language.

The literacy level of my high school students—in the same class—ranged from second grade and up.

However, most of my time as a public school teacher was spent working out of the literature textbook focusing on theme, characterization, plot, conflict, etc. We also read and studied novels such as Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men or Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird.

Shakespeare was also part of the curriculum, so there wasn’t a lot of time to focus on grammar and there was little time to correct thousands of student papers riddled with mistakes. As it was, my average work week as a teacher was 60 to 100 hours—twenty-five hours in class with students and the remaining hours planning lessons and correcting the deluge of student work. The focus of the public schools is reading literacy—not editing literacy and reaching grade-level reading literacy for more than half of the students is a challenge.

In addition, how many people have photographic memoires with instant recall as an ARG probably does? I don’t. Most of my students didn’t either. I do not expect that many of my students remember much of the grammar that I struggled to teach them. There is a lot of truth in “use it or lose it,” which I have never heard from politicians and critics where public education is often attacked for its alleged failings.

English is a complex language with many rules of grammar, mechanics and spelling with endless exceptions to those rules. In fact, in the back of Warriner’s, there is an eight-page section on words often confused such as principal and principle followed by 350 spelling demons such as hour which sounds the same as our and then there is teaching the difference between to, too and two; blew and blue, etc. (Note: I bought my copies of Warriner’s used through Amazon.)

I have no idea why so many people expect children and teenagers to remember everything they are taught—memory is complex and it is not perfect. In fact, what happens to most people during waking ours is stored in short-term memory and while one sleeps the brain sorts through the short-term memory and transfers memories that are considered important to long-term memory, and no one decides what is important.  That is an automatic function of the brain while one sleeps. What isn’t saved to long-term memory is deleted. Scientific studies have also demonstrated that consuming too much sugar (think Coke) in the diet causes havoc to mood and short term memory. See: Foods that Cause Memory Loss

You may be interested in what the Center for Science in the Public Interest in Washington D.C. says about sugary soda consumption. “Americans consume gargantuan quantities of carbonated soft drinks and suffer untoward health consequences. Companies annually produce enough soda pop to provide 557 12-ounce cans—52.4 gallons—to every man, woman, and child.” … “The amounts of caffeine in one or two cans of caffeinated soft drink can affect performance and mood, increase anxiety in children, and behavioral effects in children remains unclear.”

Anyway, back on topic (sorry about that), in late 2007, when an iUniverse editor said the manuscript of my first novel My Splendid Concubine had too many mistakes to qualify for an Editor’s Choice and Publisher’s Choice Award, I was shocked.

What shocked me was the price to pay an iUniverse editor to edit the manuscript—three thousand dollars was too rich for my budget, so I developed the editing process that I have already described.

In conclusion, I feel that some advice for ARGs (anal-retentive grammarians) may be in order.

Instead of brutally criticizing indie/self-published authors for having mistakes in his or her published novel/book, take a page from a man considered the greatest editor in publishing history, Max Perkins, and offer constructive criticism and point out the number of mistakes with a few examples and where they appear.

Saying a manuscript is riddled with mistakes is not constructive, because one ARG’s definition of riddled with mistakes might mean a dozen in an entire book while to another ARG, riddled with mistakes means the despised bumps appear on every page.

Moreover, in English, there are mistakes most recognize and then there are mistakes only ARGs notice leaving almost 60 million avid readers scratching their heads thinking, “Big deal!”

In fact, the way the brain works while reading, when a word appears such as English and it should have been England, on the way from the eye to the brain, the word converts to what it was intended to be due to contextual clues and pattern recognition. When that happens, most readers are unaware of the mistake, which explains why five pairs of eyes missed a dozen mistakes in The Concubine Saga that the sixth pair of eyes caught, and she kindly made a list with page numbers—an example of constructive criticism. She was also the artist—Denise Killingsworth—that created the cover for that novel.

Return to The NEED to Edit – Part 5  or start with Part 1

View this Six-Part Series as a Single Page

Note: My Blog posts do not go through the exhaustive editing process my novels do.


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.

To follow this Blog via E-mail see upper left-hand column and click on “FOLLOW!”