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ISO: statistics on newspaper, book and print industry

I’m a history student from Germany and as such assisting Prof. Dr. Kim Christian Priemel in a research project on the history of the newspaper, book and print industry in the 20th century. 

At the moment I’m trying to compile statistics on the following figures, which would only be used for scientific purposes:

a) circulation figures of newspapers and magazines
b) number of printed and/or sold books
c) number of bookstores
d) number of publishing houses in either branch
e) number of employees in either branch

For Germany, I already found fairly good numbers. For the US, however, I’m struggling to figure out where to start looking. Does your research group hold any relevant data of that kind? 

I’m very grateful for any hint or advice regarding contacts, institutions, handbooks or statistical offices that might be able to help me with my inquiries.

Best regards from Berlin,

Peter Mercer


  1. Hello Peter!

    California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo may have some materials you would find useful. The Graphic Communication department has an extensive graphic arts collection that was recently donated.

  2. This project,, is focused on 19th century American newspapers, but perhaps the project team might have some leads for 20th century data.

  3. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics has historical information on the printing industry here.

    You may be able to obtain pre-1990 data with some digging or by contacting them offline.

    The US Census Bureau has similar information on the printing industry, and you may be able to access pre-2000 information offline. Here is a sample query.

    I will forward this thread to a contact at The Printing Industries of America which is a trade group that also collects industry data.

    Good luck, and please let us know how you fare in your search!

  4. I’m not sure what kind of sources you would accept as reliable data sources, but in Canada, for much of the early part of the century, there was an advertising broker called McKim’s that put out an annual directory of Canadian periodic publications. Their circulation stats are by range, not specifics, and they only provide a little summary information.There is one, for 1919, available online at :
    for you to look at, and there may be others available. I haven’t checked what libraries might have sets of them, but Toronto Reference Library might be a good starting point.
    Best wishes

  5. I may have some information that will be of use. can you contact me directly via email at

    Tim Freeman
    Printing Industries Alliance

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