In the year 2012, 1,355 book titles were published in printed format. Notwithstanding annual changes, the number of books published has almost remained constant since around the turn of the century (see Figure 1).

Books published per capita has, however, declined somewhat since in the early-1990s, after a near continuous growth since the mid-1970s (see Figure 2). In the year 2012, 4.2 books were published per 1,000 capita, or some two less than in 1999, but almost the same as in the early-1990s.

It must, however, be kept in mind that figures on book publishing in the years 1975–2000 are not totally comparable with latter years. Figures for former years show counting of the number of volumes whereas the figures for more recent years are based on counting of titles. The number of books published in the years 1975–2000 are, hence, somewhat higher than the figures for the years 1999–2012.

Most books published are works written by Icelandic authors or written in Icelandic. In 2012, seven of every ten book were written in Icelandic (see Figure 3). The share of translation has though gradually increased in recent years. In 2012, the share of translations was 28 per cent. Six out of every ten translations were translations from English.

In 2012, 76 per cent of titles published were generalities, some 19 per cent were books for children and youth, and five per cent were textbooks (see Figure 4). The share of children’s books has increased constantly, or almost so, since in 1999, after some downturn in previous years.


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. 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 14 January 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.

Statistics