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Q: Number of Books in the World ( Answered,   1 Comment )
Subject: Number of Books in the World
Category: Miscellaneous
Asked by: rasput1n-ga
List Price: $40.00
Posted: 04 Apr 2003 14:56 PST
Expires: 04 May 2003 15:56 PDT
Question ID: 186153
Library of Congress has 18 million books.  But, there I many, many
more.  Give me a best guess based on some intelligent guess work to
come up with a number.

Clarification of Question by rasput1n-ga on 04 Apr 2003 14:57 PST
I need the number of Titles, not the number of book in total.
Subject: Re: Number of Books in the World
Answered By: scriptor-ga on 04 Apr 2003 16:39 PST
Dear rasput1n,

Your question is, to say the least, extremely tough. Right at the
beginning, I would like to point out that it is impossible to find a
definite answer for the question: "How many book titles have ever been
There are far too many vague factors: Book titles that have been
published in provincial regions and small numbers, so no one even
remembers their existence anymore today; the fact that over many
centuries no one counted the number of books published, and that many
old books have been lost completely; different definitions for
"published": Should an ancient Roman scroll containing the only known
work of a forgotten author be regarded a published book? Or a unique
hand-written medieval codex? And at what point should counting or
estimating start? With the development of script by man, thousands of
years ago? When book-printing was invented, in the 15th century? Or in
the 19th century, when mechanized printing made mass-produced books
There are too many uncertainties and problems that make calculating a
really relaible number impossible. During my research, I found
statements like "the 80 million books that have ever been written", or
"an estimated number of 100 million original books published to-date";
but in no case, such data was circumstantiate with sources or an
explanation of how the numbers have been generated.

After long and extensive research, I finally discovered a website of
the University of California, where an attempt was made to figure up
the US and worldwide number of original book titles that have been
published, both in and out of print. Their result was:

-- 65 million book titles --

This is the best estimate I could find - and the only one that was
backed with a substantiation for the results.

To see in detail how they made their calculations, please have a look
at their website:
(University of California: How much Information? - Print)

Search terms used:
"number of book titles" worldwide
"number of book titles"
"book titles"
bücher "seit der erfindung des buchdrucks"
"how many books exist" world
"how many books have been written"
"how many books are there" world
"number of books" wordwide
"million books" "ever written"
"million book titles" worldwide
"million books" "ever published"
books million worldwide  "ever published"
"books ever written" "total number"
"books ever written" million

Hope this helps!
Best regards,
Subject: Re: Number of Books in the World
From: neilzero-ga on 05 Apr 2003 03:33 PST
I will guess one billion titles, unless you want a narrow definition
of book which could exclude Sunday school manuals, maintenance
manuals, phone books, guest books, appointment books, albums, atlas,
encyclopedias, dictionaries, handbooks, logs, books of maps, ledgers,
children's books and revised books published with a new title.   Neil

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