…..By the late sixteenth century, European almanacs became very popular; as a category they outsold the Bible. These volumes, like their Babylonian predecessor, contained information on the moon, stars and sun, but also included agricultural and ecclesiastical calendars, dates of fairs and markets, prognostications, political commentary, advices for life and health, recipes, weather forecasts, harvest predictions and medical notes.

Like Bibles, almanacs were often used to record personal information such as domestic accounts, births, marriages and deaths. Many almanacs were published interleaved with blank pages for owners to make entries. Satirical almanacs even had spoof-diary notes printed in the text.

Almanacs are durable and popular. Benjamin Franklin’s Poor Richard’s Almanack (1732-58) had print runs of 10,000 copies a year. Old Moore’s Almanac (1697-) still sells a couple of million copies annually, with predictions on politics, football and racing; it also has an online edition. Wisden’s Cricketers’ Almanack, (1864-), is the world’s longest-running sports annual.