In the year 2015, 1,488 book titles were published in Iceland in printed format. Notwithstanding annual fluctuations, the number of books published has almost remained constant since around the turn of the century. In the period 1999-2015, 1,597 books were published on average per annum (see Figure 1).
A similar number of published book titles since around the turn of the century is noteworthy as the book has found itself in an ever increasing competition with digital media for people’s time and attention. At the same time publishing of reports by institutions, businesses and associations as well as booklets and other assorted small print has increasingly moved online.
The number of books published per capita has, however, declined somewhat in recent years. In the years 1999 and 2000 there were six publications per 1,000 inhabitants compared with five from 2012 and onwards. In 2015, 4.5 books were published per 1,000 inhabitants (see Figure 2).
Most of the publications are works originally written in Icelandic. In 2015, seven of every ten books were works written in Icelandic. Six out of every ten translations were translations from English. Translations from other languages were much fewer.
In 2015, 76 per cent of titles published were generalities, some 21 per cent were books for children and youth, and three per cent were textbooks (see Figure 3). The share of children’s books has increased steadily since 1999, mostly at the expense of textbooks whose share has halved over the period under review.
Statistics Iceland publishes annually information about published books. The figures are derived from the Icelandic National Bibliography which is compiled by the National Library and University Library of Iceland (http://www.utgafuskra.is/). The inventory is based on information contained in the central Icelandic library system, Gegnir. The bibliography is dynamic in the sense that a revised edition appears regularly. Figures presented here date from 6th September this year. Only books in printed format and audio books are listed in the bibliography. Information about publishing of books in a digital format is not available.
The bibliography records only works published from 1999 and onwards. Information about published books from earlier years is available from Statistics Iceland’s Web site, covering the period 1965–2000. The figures are derived from the previous version of the Icelandic National Bibliography and are based upon counting of number of volumes. Figures from earlier years are not totally comparable to the present data, ranging from 1999–2012.