All over the world, people read the publications of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Millions read this literature in electronic form, as you are now. However, it may surprise you to know the extent of our printing operations. As of 2013, we publish Bible-based literature in some 700 languages and distribute it in 239 lands.
Commercial firms handled all of our printing before 1920. In that year, we began printing some of our magazines and booklets in a small rented facility in Brooklyn, New York. From those small beginnings, we now operate 15 printing facilities located in Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, North America, and South America.
Our Most Important Book
The most important book that we print is, of course, the Bible. In 1942, the first complete Bible rolled off our presses; it was the English King James Version. Since 1961, Jehovah’s Witnesses have translated and published the complete New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures in one volume. By 2013, we had produced more than 184 million copies of this Bible in 121 languages.
Production figures don’t tell the whole story. The Bibles we produce are extremely durable. Their pages are printed on paper that is free of acid that would cause them to yellow, and these pages are bound securely. The result is a Bible that stands up to the rigors of daily use.
We also print publications that help people to understand the Bible. Consider some figures from 2013:
The Watchtower, our principal journal, is printed in over 210 languages and is the most widely circulated magazine in the world. Each 16-page issue has a printing of some 45,000,000 copies.
Awake! the companion magazine of The Watchtower
—and second only to it in circulation —is printed in 99 languages. Each issue has a printing of some 44,000,000.
What Does the Bible Really Teach? is a 224-page softcover book specifically designed to help its reader understand the basic teachings of the Bible. Since 2005, more than 214 million copies have been printed in over 240 languages.
Listen to God is a 32-page brochure designed to help those who cannot read well. It communicates simple Bible truths with beautiful illustrations and brief captions. More than 42 million copies have been produced in over 400 languages.
In addition to those publications, Jehovah’s Witnesses print a variety of books, brochures, and tracts that assist Bible students to research their Bible questions, cope with life’s problems, and raise happy families. In 2012 the printeries operated by Jehovah’s Witnesses produced more than 1.3 billion magazines and 80 million books and Bibles.
In 2012 the printeries operated by Jehovah’s Witnesses produced more than 1.3 billion magazines and 80 million books and Bibles
Visitors who tour our printeries often marvel at the industrious people they observe producing this literature. All of these men and women donate their time and energy. When they come to Bethel, a name that means “House of God,” most of them have no experience in the printing industry. However, an in-house training program, combined with a work environment that encourages training, yields good results. For example, it is common to see young men in their 20’s operating a high-speed printing press that is capable of producing 16-page magazines at the rate of 200,000 per hour.
Where Does the Money Come From?
Worldwide, the work done by Jehovah’s Witnesses is supported by voluntary donations. The August 1879 issue of Zion’s Watch Tower, now called The Watchtower, stated: “ ‘Zion’s Watch Tower’ has, we believe, JEHOVAH for its backer, and while this is the case it will never beg nor petition men for support.” We still feel the same way.
Why do we put so much time, money, and effort into this work? Because whether you read one of the millions of Bibles and books that come from our printeries or you read these publications online, our hope is that they will help you to draw closer to God.