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The Nations with the Most Bookish Reputations

2024-02-26T19:09:30.767Z



Image Source: Unsplash

Everybody knows that reading is a critically important skill that allows us to communicate with each other and function in daily life. Many jobs in the digital space require a high reading level, for example. It isn’t just about receiving information; it also strengthens the mind and broadens a person’s imagination. Here are the nations that are most famous for their impact on reading culture.

Iceland’s Second Sport

Iceland’s official national sport is glima, a wrestling sport brought to them by Norse Vikings. However, the small island nation has long dominated most reading statistics when adjusted for its very small population. Per capita, it has the largest publishing industry and almost one-third of the population read a book every day according to Iceland Monitor. Iceland values books, and storytelling in general, more than many other nations.

Historically, there has been a wider trend where books are appreciated for the knowledge they hold when they appear in other media sources. Online, iGaming websites often use books in their games to signify mystical knowledge. This can be seen with the top book slot games which focus on Ancient Egypt and legendary figures like King Arthur’s wizard mentor Merlin. While books enjoy a privileged position in media, many nations’ reading figures have been on the decline. This isn't the case in Iceland, whose small population is simultaneously one of the most active reading groups in the world.

In Iceland, they treat reading like it’s a second national sport. According to older figures from the country, 93% of Iceland’s population reads more than one book a year. Even more impressive, over 50% of them read eight books a year. Iceland leads many nations in per capita stats due to how small it is, but this is one case where the small and serene island nation really stands out.

The World’s Largest Book Economy

The USA is famous for many things, which is why its avid reading population is often overshadowed. America is one of the world's leading reading markets, with the average American finishing five books a year. The most avid readers in America clear more than that - around 12 books a year - but they are a minority. As a result, the largest book publishers like Random House, Simon & Schuster, and HarperCollins were all homegrown on American soil, with each maintaining major headquarters in New York City.

In 2019, the US Book market made $25.93 billion by shifting 2.76 billion book units. Most of those were physical books, with print contributing to 74% of the revenue while hardcover made up another 24%. As of 2023, digital revenues have started to increase at a rapid pace while print and hardcover have slumped slightly. Digital audiobooks saw the greatest increases, facilitated by services like Amazon’s Audible. Amazon is an all-American company, meaning that the USA still retains its dominance over the world’s reading economy.



The First Book Printing Industry

The United Kingdom doesn’t top many reading metrics today, but its historical contribution to the printing industry cannot be denied. While other nations had produced wood-block printing and the Gutenberg press was already spreading around Europe, it was an Englishman who first started printing fiction books and selling them to interested buyers.

That man was William Caxton, who started his press in 1476. He is often credited with standardizing English through his printing efforts, turning hundreds of disparate dialects into a unifying language. After his death, Caxton’s legacy was further carried by Richard Pynson and Wynkyn de Worde. Both were European immigrants from Normandy and Germany, respectively, who continued operating in England long into the 1500s. Pynson became Henry VIII’s printer, issuing legal material in standard English. De Worde continued Caxton’s work, successfully running his print shop and further developing what would become the modern printing industry.

Source: limnews

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