latest Christian bookstore Bible sales

Here are the latest figures for Bible sales in Christian bookstores. These figures do not include sales at amazon.com and other general book sales bookstores.

Bible sales chart

15 Comments

  1. Posted June 30, 2012 at 10:49 pm | Permalink

    As the NIV sales are presumably now almost all of the 2011 update, perhaps we can now say that TNIV, by virtue of a rename and some minor revisions, has at last triumphed over ESV? Or am I being too controversial by even suggesting this?

  2. Posted July 1, 2012 at 1:10 am | Permalink

    Well, Peter, I don’t know if it’s too controversial. But it is an important observation. If it’s true that most of the old NIV stock has been sold, then it’s interesting that the revised NIV with its more contemporary English is outselling the ESV with its English that continues the classical Bible English tradition of the Tyndale, KJV, ERV, ASV, and RSV translations. It would also be interesting to research enough to try to determine why the new NIV would be outselling the ESV. Zondervan must be breathing some collective sighs of relief these days as the new NIV is selling well.

  3. Posted July 3, 2012 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

    I think the reason for the NIV continuing to sell well is that those who had the strongest objections to the TNIV had mostly already switched to the ESV or the HCSB.

    I find it interesting that one megachurch in my area just switched from NIV to New King James.

  4. Posted July 4, 2012 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    I think statements claiming that the 2011 NIV is outselling the ESV are premature. Many people still have 1984 editions of the NIV which will last them several years yet. Come back and make the same comparison in 5-7 years time, and then we may get a better picture of how the two versions measure up in sales figures. I think you will find that over the next few years, as 1984 NIV’s fall apart, they will be increasingly replaced by ESV’s by conservative evangelicals.

    Pastor Peter Millist

  5. Posted July 4, 2012 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

    Pastor Millist, the sales figures are for the latest month, not cumulative sales for the past year or two. So these figures are for current sales. You’re right that we should compare again in 5-7 years. The NIV may not outsell the ESV then. But the new NIV is currently outselling the ESV. Yes?

  6. Posted July 6, 2012 at 1:49 am | Permalink

    It always amazes me that the NRSV which is so commonly used by Mainline Pastors and churches is hardly ever on the list… Now, I see that part of that may be that most Christian bookstores don’t even sell it. If you want to get one, you have to order it off Amazon or from a general book store… which also surprises me to see the CEB end up on there at all…

  7. Posted July 6, 2012 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

    Jason, that probably indicates something about the relative prevalence of Mainline Protestants as well as their Bible-buying habits. Their numbers are decreasing and they are (in my informal observation) not very likely to be Bible-toters.

  8. Dannii
    Posted July 10, 2012 at 4:26 am | Permalink

    It’s sad that KJV is still number 2.

  9. Posted August 28, 2012 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

    I am surprised to see how much ground the CEB is gaining on the Unit Sales list, but I notice it’s at the bottom of the Dollar Sales top ten. That disparity makes me wonder if it has something to do with how the publishers of the CEB are pricing their Bible. Are people buying the CEB because it’s a good translation, or because it’s cheap? (Personally, I like the CEB, but I always wonder about the actual motivations of average Bible buyers.)

  10. Tommy
    Posted December 22, 2012 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

    I’m glad the KJV is still two on the list. That’s what I have been using all my life. Our family has some RSV bibles around that were given by our church in the seventies. Why should we change versions every few years? Is something wrong with the KJV, besides the archaic language? It’s easy to learn the meaning of language like thou mayest, ye shall or whosoever. Why memorize verses in a version that will be obsolete in ten or twenty years? I remember a couple of hip versions that were around in the seventies – a paperback with stick figure drawings and a green softcover that I think had a big flower on the cover. I don’t read Greek or Hebrew, so I’m sticking with the version that has been around the longest, the KJV. I get the feeling that each new version is written to make sales and to promote the ideology of its editors. If I can’t be sure which version is truest to the messages of God and Jesus, then I will just stick to the KJV.

  11. Posted December 22, 2012 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

    each new version is written … to promote the ideology of its editors

    Maybe, Tommy. But that was just as true in the 16th and 17th centuries, and no more so than with the KJV, which was explicitly produced to promote the ideology of King James and his state church.

  12. Joe B
    Posted March 7, 2013 at 7:00 am | Permalink

    Seems overlooked, but the NLT topped the list in total unit sales for the first time.

    Have noticed it slowly climbing the charts the past year. Seems the updated version has gained enough credibility to challenge the chart topping regulars.

    It may not ever become the main pulpit Bible,but is fast becoming the people’s Bible.

  13. Chaz E
    Posted September 3, 2013 at 9:33 pm | Permalink

    I think we can contribute the strong NIV sales to the fact that many evangelicals have no clue that it’s not the same NIV they’ve been using all these years. Zondervan’s marketing genius has made the transition seamless in many ways – folks who’ve always had an NIV didn’t want a TNIV or even NIV2011. So keeping the name NIV has to have attributed to the steady sales.

  14. Posted September 5, 2013 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

    Chaz, you seem to assume that most Christians in the pew share the views of Piper, Grudem etc in their strong rejection of gender neutral Bibles. I doubt if that is true. I would guess that a larger number of Bible reading Christians today actually prefer something more egalitarian, and an even greater number simply don’t care or don’t notice these subtleties. As for ESV, I suspect that it has already filled its niche market, and so its sales will remain steady. So I predict that NIV will keep its top slot with ESV some way behind – as indeed it has in the latest figures, more than a year after this original post.

  15. Posted September 5, 2013 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

    Also, I have just read, only 3% of American Bible readers read ESV, compared with 11% for NIV, and 38% for KJV.


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