Croatia fact of the day

The most successful Croatian book of 2008 Naš čovjek na terenu (Our Man in the Field) by Robert Perišić, sold exactly 1,904 copies.

To state the obvious, that’s not a lot.  Here is more; the country has 4.4 million people.


I was once fascinated to read that Israel had published 100x more books than Egypt over a five year period, despite their difference in population.

That does not surprise me. All the Jews I know, though non-Israelis, are voracious readers. No Arab I know fits the same description.


Tom Maguire concludes his post on your president's latest exhortations on the budget deal and the NYT's absolute support for him with this paragraph:

Obama has sat on the sidelines for months, demagoguing Republican proposals and letting Biden grind away with Congressional leaders. I would never claim to be smart enough to be a Democrat strategist, but does Obama really imagine he can run onto the field in the last five minutes and then get credit for some sort of leadership? Well, outside of the pages of the Times, of course.

Let's see Obama's proposal for a big deal. If not now, when?


C'mon, get your own blog please. This has nothing to do w/ the topic at all.

The US is about 60 times larger as a nation, with 300 million people. Bestseller sales don't seem to be proportional. The 2010 USA bestseller (Twilight) seems around 20 million copies; universality of English must distort. Not sure how many were American sales.

The just out 2011 census reports 4 290 612 people. Marginal improvement?

The US has 300+ million people and 4 players in the tennis top 50 . . . the Croats have 3. They're kicking our rear.

"A language is a dialect with an army and navy." Consider the part of the world and linguistic landscape of the former Yugoslavia. Many people probably buy books nominally published in Serbian or Bosnian, even though they are all very similar languages and almost totally mutually intelligible. Also, people in Croatia are likely reading more in English as a second (or third, or fourth) language today than ever. Perhaps in the past many Croats read in Russian. I'm not saying this means as many books per capita are being purchased in Croatia as the US, but this statistic seems less shocking when put in context.

Er, no. Russian has never been quite popular in Croatia, even during Yugoslavia; most of the people learned English and German.

Also, Serbian and Bosnian books are not read; in fact, Croatian translations of foreign work are often widely read in those countries.

Maybe I can offer some Croatian perspective. Foreign authors sold more books than domestics in 2008 - translation of book "PS, I Love You" by Cecelia Ahern sold in 7385 copies. Book by Perišić would come in 11th place on combined list of domestic and foreign bestsellers. Also, culture of book buying is not extremely well developed here. Majority of people who read books mostly prefer lending them from public libraries. Those who do buy them regularly are usually well educated people who don't have a problem with reading in English and ordering from Amazon. If you can choose between best products from market of 300 million people and those from market of 4 million people why would you choose products from a smaller market?

The magic threshold for books to be published in masses seems to be around 8-10 million.

Czechs (10 million people) have quite huge publishing market. Neighboring Slovaks (5 million) not so much, in fact they often buy Czech books instead of translating them into the Slovak language.

The figure you quoted makes it sound worse than it is. Here are some more.

In 2007 about 6500 different titles were issued in Croatia. This includes both new titles and republished titles, also, includes books, textbooks, illustrated books, etc. Between 2500 and 3500 new titles are published each year. Croatia annually publishes about 680 new titles per million people... the figure in the rest of Europe being 1000 to 2500 per million.

Each title is commonly printed in 1000-10000 copies, so the economies of scale are not there to lower the price. Croats pay more for books than Americans do, while being poorer in general.

So all things considered it's not that bad. Actually, by some metrics, Croatia could probably be shown to be rather advanced in the books/publishing/reading department.

Here's another stat I dug up. A publishing house that specializes in mass printing of "easy" reads, love novels for the beach, thrillers and the like, sold 1 million copies in the past 12 months. If you think about it, it's equivalent to a publishing house in the US selling 80+ million copies... not bad at all.

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