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UPDATED: December 16, 2006 No.9 MAR. 3, 2005
Just How Big Is China's Book Market?

According to a Xinhua News Agency report, the first sample survey of China's press and publication industry indicates that the whole industry accomplished added value of 193.97 billion yuan ($23.4 billion) in 2004, representing 1.7 percent of the national GDP and 5 percent of the total added value of the tertiary industry.

Starting from the 1980s, China's publishing industry had for a long while maintained an average annual growth rate of 10 to 20 percent, even reaching 50 percent in some years. Since the late 1990s, the annual growth rate has dropped to 8 to 10 percent, matching the growth rate of the national economy of the same period, which is still high by international standards.

According to statistics, in 2003, China published 190,000 book titles, including 110,000 new books, while in the same year, Britain published 120,000 titles and the United States 175,000 titles.

Although China has produced the largest number of titles in the world for many years, the output value of the book publishing industry is merely 46.16 billion yuan ($5.6 billion), far behind the $30 billion in the United States. Since China boasts the largest population in the world, the Chinese book market is relatively small in comparison. Although China is the largest book producer in terms of the number of titles, the output value of its publishing industry is low.

Zhao Xiaoming, head of the International Publishing House for China's Culture, believes that book market on the Chinese mainland has great potential. He quotes figures as proof. Average personal consumption of books on the Chinese mainland in 2001 was 32.01 yuan ($3.9), while that of the United States was $93 and in France $122 in 1999.

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