Ikea's catalog is as popular as the Bible and the Quran

Some of the most widely circulated books on the planet are religious texts, young adult fiction, and a Swedish furniture catalog.

With 203 million copies distributed to design lovers around the globe, Ikea's yearly catalog sits beside the Bible, the Quran, and the "Harry Potter" series as one of the most popular books in the world.

The main reason Ikea is able to distribute so many copies is that the company knows its customer.

Specifically, Ikea conducts research in each of the 72 regions where the book is distributed. As Quartz reports, the company collects information on housing sizes, cultural attitudes, and personal habits to figure out which items and designs are likely to sell best in which locations.

In the 2017 catalog, for instance, Chinese kitchens appeared much smaller than US kitchens, reflecting China's ongoing battle with affordable housing.

21 PHOTOS
New 2017 Ikea Collection
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New 2017 Ikea Collection

IKEA PS 2017 foldable armchair ($99) and loveseat ($149)

Courtesy of Ikea

 PS 2017 corner easy chair with 18 cushions, $166.82

Courtesy of Ikea

PS 2017 storage unit, $99

Courtesy of Ikea

PS 2017 corner easy chair with 18 cushions, $166.82

Courtesy of Ikea

PS 2017 3-piece self-watering plant pot set, $24.99

Courtesy of Ikea

 PS 2017 armchair, $199

Courtesy of Ikea

PS 2017 side table/stool, $49.99

Courtesy of Ikea

 PS 2017 foldable coffee table, $49.99

Courtesy of Ikea

 PS 2017 corner easy chair with cushions, $199

Courtesy of Ikea

 PS 2017 rug, low pile, $249

Courtesy of Ikea

PS 2017 block-out roller blind, $29.99

Courtesy of Ikea

 PS 2017 LED multi-use lighting, $29.99

Courtesy of Ikea

 PS 2017 side table on casters, $99

Courtesy of Ikea

PS 2017 vase, $12.99 each

Courtesy of Ikea

 SPRIDD steel vacuum flask, $9.99 each

Courtesy of Ikea

SPRIDD travel mug, $6.99 each

Courtesy of Ikea

 SPRIDD mug, $4.99 each

Courtesy of Ikea

 SPRIDD bowl, $4.99 each

Courtesy of Ikea

 SPRIDD twin duvet cover set, $39.99

Courtesy of Ikea

 SPRIDD cover beanbag, $19.99

Courtesy of Ikea

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Sometimes the personalization has caused controversy for Ikea.

In the 2012 catalog, men and women appeared in roughly an equal number of cases in US and UK issues. But in Saudi Arabia and ultra-Orthodox regions of Israel, Ikea edited its photos so they only featured men, or nobody at all.

In that way, the popularity of Ikea's catalog reflects the company's focus on international sales, for better or worse. Critics of the retouching alleged Ikea was betraying its core values of inclusiveness by catering to regressive gender ideals.

As a marketing tactic, however, Ikea knows it is maximizing its already broad appeal. Well-designed furniture, sold at a reasonable price, will be a hit with hundreds of millions around the world; the only variable is whether the message surrounding the products will resonate.

The wide readership of its 374-page book, due out in print July 31 and online August 7, is just the most obvious sign it does.

13 PHOTOS
12 most popular IKEA products of all time
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12 most popular IKEA products of all time
12. Ribba frames make your photos and art pop.

Price: $1.99 — $19.99. 
Find it here.

Simplicity is a top design principle at IKEA, and the Ribba frame series proves it.

Ribba frames come in a variety of sizes and in black, white, and steely gray.

11. The Färgrik mug is the quintessential coffee cup.

Price: $0.99
Find it here. 

The white stoneware Färgrik mug goes with any kitchen color scheme — plain and simple.

Plus, you won't break the bank replacing it if one crashes on the floor.

10. The Klippan loveseat fits small budgets and smaller apartments.

Price: $399
Find it here.

Stretching just over 70 inches, the Klippan sofa squeezes into most shoebox apartments. It's available in white, gray, and caramel.

If you make a tough stain, you can buy a replacement cover for as little as $29.

9. The Docksta table completes a minimalist kitchen.

Price: $179
Find it here.

The Docksta table blends in with its soft edges and a simple silhouette. The white finish allows an eclectic assortment of chairs or decorations to stand out.

8. The Ektorp sofa is built to last.

Price: $499
Find it here.

Small details such as the strong seams, changeable covers, and reversible seat cushions toughen up the Ektorp sofa to withstand years of use.

Plus, the foam and polyester fiber-packed seat cushions give great support.

7. The Lack table series hardly lacks style.

Price: $7.99 – $49.99
Find it here.

"Basic" isn't a bad thing when it comes to IKEA's preeminent table series. 

Tables, ranging in size and proportions, come in a wide variety of colors and finishes. They're lightweight so you can move them easily and feng shui your living room over and over again.

6. The Stockholm rugs add a burst of color to any room.

Price: $99 – $349
Find them here.

Stockholm rugs are made by hand in textile centers in India that provide good working conditions and fair wages, according to IKEA.

They're also adorable and available in checkered and picnic-blanket-like patterns.

5. The Rens sheepskin rug brings warmth into your home.

Price: $29.99

Find it here.

IKEA's white sheepskin rug begs to be thrown in front of a fireplace and curled upon. It's irresistibly soft.

The wool is soil-repellent and durable, though not machine-washable.

4. The Kallax shelving series became an instant classic.

Price: $15 – $249
Find it here.

The internet freaked out when IKEA discontinued everyone's favorite shelf, the Expedit. But it's back with a new name (Kallax) and a sleek new design.

Kallax shelves, which come in multiple sizes, are durable thanks to a scratch-resistant surface and rounded corners that make them less painful to bump into.

3. The Malm bed frame series streamlines the bedroom.

Price: $149 – $559
Find it here.

A millennial's first apartment isn't complete without a Malm bed frame. The Malm come in two flavors: one that raises the mattress high off the floor and another that includes storage.

2. The Poäng chair sells 1.5 million units a year.

Price: $109 – $229
Find it here.

Created by famed Japanese designer Noboru Nakamura, the Poäng chair is one of the most iconic IKEA products of all time. It recently celebrated its 40th birthday with a limited-edition frame and six new covers.

Style, quality, and an affordable price point helped the Poäng chair stand the test of time.

1. The Billy bookcase is the most ubiquitous piece of IKEA furniture.

Price: $69.99 – $544.97
Find it here.

A Billy bookcase sells every 10 seconds, according to the New York Times. Why? It speaks directly to the IKEA ethos of simplicity that makes the company a global success.

The Billy bookcase can also grow with its owner over time. New shelves can be added when your library expands, and it's available in a variety of heights, widths, and finishes.

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NOW WATCH: IKEA is making their furniture even easier to put together

See Also:

SEE ALSO: How to move to Sweden and live in the future

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