Zen and the Art of Giga Om

Wikipedia maintains a list of book publishers (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_English-language_book_publishing_companies). The Wikipedia article on “Publishing” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Publishing) also primarily deals with literature published in the form of “ink on paper” printed books (and newspapers, etc.).

I wonder: Is there a graphic showing the number of (print) publishers worldwide over the past 5 centuries? If there is, my hunch is that the number is significantly less than the number of books. Wikipedia states that globally, approximately 2.2 million books are published per year (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Books_published_per_country_per_year). Wikipedia’s “Publishing” page notes that

Approximately 60% of English-language books are produced through the “Big Five” publishing houses.

I think it is safe to assume that the number of “print” / “paper” publishers has already peaked — and that their number is currently perhaps somewhere in the low thousands. The precise number may be difficult to nail down, because there may be “copy shops” or desktop publishers that publish things that look and function something like books, newspapers, magazines, “zines” or something like that on almost any corner of the globe.

In contrast: I just checked ntldstats.com, and the site currently states that there are currently 4,895,464 domains registered in 584 top-level domains (TLDs) … and neither of these statistics seems to be anywhere near to reaching a peak.

In sum: Over history, there have been many millennia with very few or even no publishers at all, about five hundred years in which the number of publishers rose from a few dozen to a few thousand, and about twenty years in which the number of publishers has risen from a few thousand to a few million … with little or no sign of slower growth rates on the horizon.

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