The Best Selling Books in the World

By Victor Kiprop on May 25 2018 in Society

Famous books on sale in Romania. Editorial credit: Radu Bercan /

Thousands of books are written, published and distributed every day. As more people seek education, the demand for knowledge increases and authors are striving to fulfill the demand. The Bible is the world's best-selling book, having sold more than five billion copies. This article discusses the world's best-selling books.

The Best Selling Books of All Time

The Bible

According to Christians, the Bible is the word of God. It was written by several authors inspired by the Holy Spirit over a period of time. It is categorized into the Old Testament and the New Testament. Genesis, written by Moses, is the first book, while Revelation, written by John the Apostle, is the last book. It has been translated into several languages and distributed all over the world. There are several version of the bible, but in general, it is estimated that it has sold more than five billion copies.

Little Red Book

Mao Zedong (Mao Tse-tung), former chairman of the Communist Party of China, wrote a book entitled Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-tung. The book contained speeches, statements, and writings by the author and was published from 1964 to 1976. The book became popular with readers, and a smaller, more portable version was published, which was bright red, and therefore was referred to in the West as the Little Red Book. It is believed that more than a billion copies have been sold, although the exact figure is disputed.

Don Quixote

The book El Ingenioso Hidalgo Don Quijote de la Mancha, which translates to The Ingenious Nobleman Mister Quixote of La Mancha, and is popularly known as Don Quixote, is a Spanish novel authored by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra. It was first published in 1605 and a second edition was released in 1615. The book is considered one of the most influential pieces of Spanish literature of the Spanish Golden Age, and appears among the list of best fiction canonical novels ever published. It is estimated to have sold about 500 million copies.

A Tale of Two Cities

In 1859, Charles Dickens authored a novel entitled A Tale of Two Cities. The novel, set in Paris and London, centered around Doctor Manette, who was imprisoned for eighteen years during the French Revolution. Dickens borrows much of his work from Thomas Carlyle’s French Revolution: A History. The book is estimated to have sold about 200 million copies since it was first published, but several critics, including Oxford University's Peter Thonemann, dispute the figure.

The Lord of the Rings

The famous film "The Lord of the Rings" was developed from a novel of the same title. The novel The Lord of the Rings is authored by English scholar J. R. R. Tolkien as a sequel to his 1937 novel, The Hobbit. The novel was authored between 1937 and 1949 and is regarded as one of the best-selling books. It was published in three volumes between 29 July, 1954 and 20 October, 1955. The first single volume edition was published in 1968. It is estimated that it has sold over 150 million copies.

Digital Books

The advancement of technology has led to a peak in sales of digital book copies. Digital copies are distributed faster, available globally, and are also cheaper to produce. Academic institutions are shifting towards digital copies, and students can now access more books than ever before. The population as a whole is also moving towards digital copies because with a smartphone one can carry as many as 200 books with them.

The Best Selling Books of All Time

RankBook Name Approximate Copies Sold Text Language
1The Bible5 BillionMultiple Languages
2Little Red BookBillions (disputed) Chinese
3Don Quixote500 MillionSpanish
4A Tale of Two Cities200 MillionEnglish
5The Lord of the Rings150 MillionEnglish
6The Little Prince140 MillionFrench
7Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone107 MillionEnglish
8The Hobbit100 MillionEnglish
9And Then There Were None100 MillionEnglish
10Dream of the Red Chamber100 MillionChinese
11Alice in Wonderland100 MillionEnglish

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