CBA Bible Translation Sales

Bible Translations – Based on Dollar Sales

  1. New International Version various publishers
  2. New King James Version various publishers
  3. King James Version various publishers
  4. New Living Translation Tyndale
  5. English Standard Version Crossway
  6. Today’s New International Version Zondervan
  7. New Revised Standard Version various publishers
  8. New American Standard Bible update various publishers
  9. The Message Eugene Peterson, NavPress
  10. International Children’s Bible Thomas Nelson

Bible Translations – Based on Unit Sales

  1. New International Version various publishers
  2. New King James Version various publishers
  3. King James Version various publishers
  4. New Living Translation Tyndale
  5. English Standard Version Crossway
  6. New Revised Standard Version various publishers
  7. Reina Valera 1960 (Spanish) various publishers
  8. Holman Christian Standard Bible B&H Publishing Group
  9. International Children’s Bible Thomas Nelson
  10. The Message Eugene Peterson, NavPress

A few things are striking about these recent numbers. For one, there is a major change in the ESV – its no longer higher on the unit sales than it is on the dollar sales. This means that its not merely the cheep 50 cent New Tetaments that are pushing up its numbers – or at least that the ESV Study Bible is balancing that out.

Then there’s the TNIV – its ranked 6ths in dollar sales and doesn’t appear on unit sales. My guess is that this has to do with the recent release of the rather expensive TNIV reference Bible. Apparently people like it – and like it enough to put down the big bucks.

I’m also impressed with the NLT. Its got a solid fourth place lead, in the sense that 1-3 were the predictable three: NIV, NKJV, and KJV (the NKJV concerns me – are there really that many Textus Receptus people out there?).

Finally, there’s the Holman Christian Standard Bible. Its a good translation (with a couple idiosyncrasies), its interesting that its gone from the dollar sales list.

Here’s the list in PDF.

What do you think?

12 thoughts on “CBA Bible Translation Sales

  1. I think the NKJV has nothing to do with the Textus Receptus. From my experience, people who read the NKJV know nothing about it’s textual history and only read it because they want a more understandable version of the KJV. I always recommend they switch to the ESV, however there are significant problems when trying to quickly explain how the Bible is actually a translation from other languages. When you toss out the idea of the Textus Receptus you can kind of see their eyes glaze over as they tune you out. So in my opinion, it’s simple ignorance.

    Please read my thoughts on the other set of CBA data which I posted earlier this morning at my blog. It is specific to study Bibles, and not just the translation versions. Link:

    Latest CBA Data for Study Bibles

  2. I don’t use the NLT as my primary Bible but every time I read it I am pleasantly surprised. August Konkel, one of the translators of Job addressed my OT writings class when the NLT first came out and I was very impressed with his ability to read Hebrew and translate on the fly. I think it has only gotten better with the 2001 and 2007 revisions.
    I wonder how the actual dollar and unit sales are doing yoy. Have they suffered with our current economic slump or are people buying more Bibles to find meaning?

  3. I’d say the reason for NKJV’s high spot on the list has to do with Thomas Nelson publishing every study Bible in the world with the NKJV translation; not with folks actively choosing the NKJV.

  4. Hmmm, that makes sense, Rick. Thanks.

    Thomas: I don’t know. I’d be curious about how sales have gone with the economy too. As far as I know, they’ve never put up those stats.

    Nathan: Yeah, most people don’t know about the TR, which is unfortunate.

    Anyway, sorry its taken me a bit to comment. I just got back from church and shoveling the driveway.

  5. I continue to think the REB — as a revision of the NEB — is the most eloquent English Bible. It also has the single best English formulation for … καὶ θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος: “and what God is, the Word was.”

  6. As a previous reader of the NKJV, I think it has to do with a combination of what Nathan and Rick stated (i.e. ignorance & sales of NKJV study bibles). I started reading the NKJV in 1980, and used it for 20 years. Back then there was a great deal of fear being written you know the ones KJV only, and how the other translations (i.e. NIV) were evil. Well being ignorant I fell for it and would only read the NKJV.

    However I did use the NASB, NIV, & Living Bible to study with. Didn’t let those people scare me completely. It was not until the release of the ESV bible that I abandoned the NKJV, and never looked back. Today I am reading the HCSB, and for 2009 I plan to read the TNIV, and the NLT.

    I am really sorry to see the lack of attention that the publishers from HCSB are giving it. I think it would serve them well to have a blog, and interact with it’s consumers. I fear that the HCSB will not become a well know bible and just die off due to poor marketing on behalf of Holman. I hope that does not happen and look forward to the revision scheduled for 2009.

  7. A bit off topic but isn’t the NA27/UBS4 the modern day scholarly equivalent to the TR? That’s why you have people criticizing the ecclectic text of Zondervan’s RGNTs, because they aren’t the ‘standard text’ regardless of whether or not they’re good in their own right.

  8. I suppose that’s true. I remember reading RGNT reviews on Amazon about – I actually ended up writing a review just to respond to those criticism.

    With that said, I think the scholars are aware of the benefit of multiple texts. And it sounds like the Major Critical edition in the works is going to be (and already is) different than the NA27.

    I also think of Barn Ehrman’s statements that in general, unless there’s some amazing discovery, we’re about as close as we can get. That’s a statement that is pretty much confirmed by the RGNTs too – they differ in less than 300 places – pretty amazing for over 100,000 words.

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