• Despite readers shifting to e-books and audio books, the print book market is still going strong.
  • RELX Group took 5.6 billion U.S. dollars in revenue in 2019 - making it the biggest publisher.
  • The chart below shows the top 8 book publishers globally.

Even though more and more readers are gravitating towards digital solutions like e-books or audio books and streaming giants like Spotify signing partnership deals with audio book platforms, the print book market is still going strong. Taking a look at the biggest book publishers, it's clear that the most money is made in a comparatively narrow field though.

Out of the eight publishers with the highest revenue in 2019, only two show a diversified lineup of prose, poetry and non-fiction imprints. One is the publishing division of Bertelsmann AG comprised of Penguin Random House and Bertelsmann Education Group with a yearly revenue of roughly four billion U.S. dollars in 2019, the other is French publisher Hachette Livre which made approximately 2.7 billion U.S. dollars in 2019. The top three spots on the list belong to publishers of scientific, educational and highly specialized trade literature, with the multinational RELX Group taking first place with 5.6 billion U.S. dollars in 2019 revenue.

Even though the most money is still made with specialized books and journals, general world literacy is still a pressing issue, with the UNESCO hosting International Literacy Day since 1967. In 2019, 83 percent of the female and roughly 90 percent of the male world population showed basic literacy skils according to data by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics.

The World's Biggest Book Publishers.
The World's Biggest Book Publishers.
Image: Statista

What is the World Economic Forum's Book Club?

The World Economic Forum launched its official Book Club on Facebook in April 2018. Readers worldwide are invited to join and discuss a variety of books, both fiction and non-fiction. It is a private Facebook group dedicated to discussing one book every month.

Each month, we announce a new book on our social media channels. We then publish an extract and begin a chapter-by-chapter discussion with group members. Selected comments and questions are sent to the author, who in return sends us a video response.

Unlike other book clubs, the group features the direct involvement of the authors, giving you - our global audience with members all around the globe - a chance to directly connect with some of the most influential thinkers and experts in the world.

We have featured authors such as Steven Pinker, Elif Shafak, Yuval Noah Harari, and Melinda Gates.

You can join the Book Club here.

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