Top 10 Best-selling Books of all Time

Books were historically the most important and widely used sources of information, education and entertainment. And even now, in the day of the internet and television, books remain widely popular, with many millions of buyers every week. But what are the top 10 best-selling books of all time? The following updated 2020 ranking will show you this historic bestseller list.

(Note: includes direct shopping links to the respective books)

top 10 bestsellers of all time

The 10 Best-selling Books in History

(as of January 2020)

~ 5 billion copies sold
~ 1.1 billion copies sold
~ 800 million copies sold
~ 155 million copies sold
~ 140 million copies sold
~ 125 million copies sold
~ 120 million copies sold
~ 115 million copies sold
~ 110 million copies sold
~ 105 million copies sold

1. The Bible

the holy bible - best-selling book of all time

Genre: Religious
Author: Several
Year of original release: ~ 1st Century AD
Original language: Hebrew / Aramaic

The Bible is the best-selling book of all time, having sold around 5 billion copies to date. The book had several authors and can be roughly divided into two parts: The Old Testament and the New Testament. The Bible was written somewhere in the period of the 8th BC and the 1st Century CE. Most of it was written in Hebrew, though parts were also Aramaic. The Bible now is also the most translated book in human history. It primarily serves as the basis of the world’s largest religion: Christianity.

2. Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-Tung

a.k.a. The Little Red Book

quotations of chairman mao - second of the top 10 best-selling books of all time

Genre: Political
Author: Mao Zedong (a.k.a. Mao Tse-Tung)
Year of original release: 1964
Original language: Chinese

Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-Tsung, also known as the “Little Red Book”, is the world’s second best-selling book, having sold around 1.1 billion copies worldwide. The book contains 427 quotes on 33 different topics made by Mao Zedong (formerly translated as Mao Tse-Tung), the leader of the Communist revolution in China in 1949 and Chairman of the Chinese Communist Party of China. The latter fact made Zedong the most powerful man and leader of China until his death in 1976. His book of quotations was first only distributed among military leaders, but soon after got distributed for the Chinese public. Zedong even halted the distribution of other books for a while in order to avoid competition for his own work. Beginning in 1967, Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-Tsung was translated into many languages and sold to millions of people outside of China.

3. The Quran

the quran - third best-selling books of all time

Genre: Religious
Author: Several
Year of original release: ~ 7th Century AD
Original language: Arabic

The Quran is another religious book that finds itself within the Top 10 of best-selling books of all time. It sold around 800 million copies to date. The Quran was written in the 7th Century CE, originally in Arabic, and serves as the basis for the world’s second largest religion: Islam. Practicing Muslims understand the book as a revelation from God (“Allah”) delivered by his earthly prophet Muhammad and use the book for guidance and as the basis for their religious customs and behavior. Several authors, many of whom contemporary witnesses, contributed to the book.

4. The Lord Of The Rings

the lord of the rings

Genre: Fantasy
Author: John Tolkien
Year of original release: 1954
Original language: English

Coming in fourth in the ranking of Top 10 best-selling books of all time, The Lord of the Rings by English author John Tolkien (a.k.a. J.R.R. Tolkien) is the best-selling novel in history. To date, it sold around 155 million copies all over the world. The book is sometimes misrepresented as a book series since it technically includes three parts (“The Fellowship of the Ring“, The Two Towers” & The Return of the King“), but the book is actually written as one story, not a trilogy. The decision to market three books was made by the original publishing house Allen & Unwin. Tolkien’s fantasy novel has success far beyond the book market. Many decades after the author’s death in 1973 it amassed a worldwide cult following and the three movies based on the book were a huge success as well.

5. The Little Prince (Le Petit Prince)

the little prince cover - top 5 of the top 10 best selling books of all time

Genre: Children’s Novel
Author: Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Year of original release: 1943
Original language: French

French aristocrat, aviator, journalist and book author Antoine de Saint-Exupery wrote the fifth best-selling book in history. The Little Prince (original title “Le Petit Prince“) is also by far still the best-selling children’s book of all time having sold around 140 million copies around the world. Saint-Exupery published the book in 1943 while living in exile in the United States after France’s surrender to Nazi Germany’s invasion in 1940. The Little Prince would become the French multi-talent’s most successful, but also his last book. He died after rejoining the French military and crashing over the Mediterranean Sea in 1944.

6. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

a.k.a. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

Genere: Fantasy
Author: Joanne Rowling
Year of original release: 1997
Original language: English

7. Scouting for Boys

Genre: Manual / Instructional
Author: Robert Baden-Powell
Year of original release: 1908
Original language: English

8. And Then There Were None

a.k.a. Ten Little Niggers

Genre: Mystery Crime
Author: Agatha Christie
Year of original release: 1939
Original language: English

9. The Hobbit

Genre: Fantasy
Author: John Tolkien
Year of original release: 1937
Original language: English

10. The Dream Of The Red Chamber

Genre: Novel
Author: Cao Xueqin (a.k.a. Tsao Hsueh-Chin)
Year of original release: 1791
Original language: Chinese

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