If you live in the West you might think the Church is in decline, but more printed Bibles were distributed by United Bible Societies last year than ever before. 32.1 million Bibles were distributed across the world in 2011 – an increase of 11.2% over 2010.
It is the first time that the number of Bibles distributed by Bible Societies has exceeded 30 million in a single year. And these figures do not include Bibles in other formats, such as audio or digital, which are rapidly growing in importance and will soon become the main channels for Bible distribution.
The biggest growth was seen in Africa and the Americas, where 3.6 million more Bibles were distributed last year than in 2010. Bible distribution in Europe and the Middle East rose by a modest 2.7%, but fell by 4.2% in Asia Pacific.
The majority of the Bibles we distributed were in the world’s major international languages: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Swahili.
The distribution of smaller items of Scripture, such as Psalms or Gospels, increased, too, from 337 million in 2010 to nearly 350 million last year.
In total, the United Bible Societies fellowship distributed more than 381 million Bibles and Scriptures last year, reaching a potential 5.4 % of the world’s population (based on one item of Scripture per person.)
Whatever you may have heard, there is no doubt that the Bible remains by far the best-selling book in the world!