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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Best-selling Bibles list changes

The monthly list of best-selling Bibles has a different format and Internet address. The list is now in a pdf file format. The familiar top ten rankings for sales of English Bibles remains, but it is now under a category of General versions/Translations. Three more categories of rankings for Bible sales have been added:
  • Specialty Bibles
  • Study Bibles
  • Young adult/Children's Bibles
The top five best selling Bibles in each of these last three categories are displayed.

Here are the top ten best-selling general Bibles for the April display (February sales, I believe):
1 New King James Version various publishers
2 King James Version various publishers
3 New International Version various publishers
4 New Living Translation Tyndale
5 English Standard Version Crossway
6 The Message “Eugene Peterson, NavPress”
7 New American Standard Bible update various publishers
8 New Century Version Nelson
9 Reina Valera 1960 (Spanish) various publishers
10 Today’s New International Version Zondervan
Note that the NKJV is now in first place and the NIV has slipped to third place. Since there are relatively few differences between the NIV and TNIV, it would be interesting to know what the rankings would be if the NIV and TNIV sales were combined in a footnote, to see how these two versions compare to sales of the NKJV and KJV.

The ESV continues in the middle of the pack, where it has been for several months. The TNIV is now at #10, down from a higher ranking when The Bible Experience was first released. (We would expect sales of the TNIV itself to rise as people listen to its dramatic audio production in The Bible Experience.) It will be interesting to check the monthly rankings in the year ahead to see if the TNIV moves up in the list, with continued brisk sales of The Bible Experience (New Testament).

Now, if we could get access to Bible sales figures at general bookstores such as, Barnes&Noble, Wal-Mart, etc., we would have an even more accurate picture of Bible sales rankings.


At Thu Apr 12, 09:32:00 AM, Blogger R. Mansfield said...

What I want to know is WHO is buying the NKJV? I see them occasionally at church, but not all that often.

At Thu Apr 12, 09:57:00 AM, Blogger Gary Zimmerli said...

Me too, Rick.

I own a couple of them, but I got them years ago and almost never even pick them up any more.

Nelson must have some kind of special marketing plan going on right now.

At Thu Apr 12, 11:33:00 AM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

The NKJV should not be such a mystery. I note that the Gideon's distribute KJV and NKJV. And that is a lot of Bibles!

Of course, thy don't end up in church. They are still distributed in schools here in Canada, I believe. My children received Gideon Bibles. Every school child in the country gets a KJV or NKJV NT and Psalms and Proverbs.

From their FAQ.

Plain full Bible (brown only, King James Version only) for $8.75 each.
Plain large, soft cover New Testament with Psalms in medium bold print (dark blue only, King James Version only) for $4.00 each.
Plain pocket-sized New Testament with Psalms and Proverbs (brown only, King James Version or New King James Version) for $2.50 each.

At Thu Apr 12, 01:43:00 PM, Blogger Gary Zimmerli said...

Suzanne said:
Every school child in the country gets a KJV or NKJV NT and Psalms and Proverbs.

I'm afraid I'm speechless!

How can we get 'em to allow that here in the States?

At Thu Apr 12, 02:16:00 PM, Blogger anonymous said...

The link between the NKJV and the KJV is rather tenuous; they share a common name (as a marketing effort) and a common textual basis but the translation of the two bibles are not particularly closely related (thus, for example, the (British) Revised Version is much closer to the KJV than the NKJV is.)

They are selling the NKJV bibles for $1. Nelson link

By the way, where I live, I am often several free NKJV bibles each year as part of outreach efforts -- so at least in some parts of the US, they are given away aggressively.

I believe that the strength of TNIV sales rests mostly on the Bible Experience sales. Note the Bible Experience outsells other Bibles on Amazon, for example.

Finally, I would suggest taking the CBA sales with a big grain of salt. I doubt the accuracy of the figures for several reasons (including the sampling method.)

At Thu Apr 12, 03:06:00 PM, Blogger R. Mansfield said...

Suzanne, I wouldn't think that Gideons' copies of hte NKJV would be reflected in CBA sells unless there all coming from particular stores. But since they are usually imprinted with the Gideon logo I would have to assume they get them directly from Thom. Nelson.

At Thu Apr 12, 03:14:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Guess you're right, Rick.

While my children did get Gideon NT's in school just a few years ago, I am pretty sure that the practise is on the way out. Here is one item about that.

As an adult I have never been exposed to an outreach campaign of any kind here.

At Thu Apr 12, 05:21:00 PM, Blogger MissionalGirl said...

I wonder if price does not have a lot to do with these latest figures. Whenever the youth ministry I am a part of is given Bibles purchased for us, guess which versions we get: NKJV and KJV. Why? The cost is cheaper. The KJV is public domain and crazy cheap. As for the NKJV? I'm with Gary. There must be some special promotion going on because whenever I go to church, six times out of ten, I see NIV or NLT.

At Thu Apr 12, 06:09:00 PM, Blogger anonymous said...

The Bible Experience peaked quickly and its Amazon rating has been slowly dropping. Although it may provide continued backlist sales, I doubt sales will increase until the version with the complete Bible is released.

At Thu Apr 12, 11:21:00 PM, Blogger Kevin said...

I think that many pentecostal-Word of Life-types and Free-Presbyterians, etc. like to use the N/KJV. Many of them still even preach from the KJV. I know there's many who do read the NKJV and prefer it. I used to read the NKJV for a long time. It was a natural transition over from the KJV. I never read the NIV for years but I eventually buckled under and now even read the TNIV! Gideon's also distribute NASB. I've seen lots of them in hospitals.

At Thu Apr 12, 11:23:00 PM, Blogger Kevin said...

I've been surprised the last few months to see the NCV on the top-10 list. I wonder where that's coming from?

At Fri Apr 13, 03:26:00 AM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Kevin, the NCV sales may well come largely from the International Children's Bible. This is I think a modified version of the NCV text, but CBA may count the two together.

At Fri Apr 13, 04:54:00 AM, Blogger John Radcliffe said...

The most common Gideon Bible I've seen in Britain is a special edition of the NIV. It has no footnotes, but puts the footnote reading in the text in a few places (e.g. verses omitted on textual grounds, and "only begotten" in John 3:16, etc).

I was told some years ago that each local group could decide whether to supply the AV (KJV) or the "Gideon" NIV. I've no idea whether this policy has changed, but I would doubt whether they would use the NKJV, as its British usage edition (the "Revised Authorised Version") was withdrawn by its British publishers (can't remember who that was) some years ago, presumably due to poor sales.

I know a few people here who use the NKJV. Some (individuals) use it because they like / are familiar with the style; others (including some churches) favour it on "ideological" grounds. By way of comparison, I don't actually know anyone else here who even *owns* a NASB, ESV or TNIV!

At Fri Apr 13, 05:11:00 AM, Blogger R. Mansfield said...

The NCV is another Thomas Nelson backed translation, so the marketing is going to be good just as with the NKJV. I know the NCV is used in a lot of those "Biblezines" aimed at kids and teenagers.

At Fri Apr 13, 07:55:00 AM, Blogger Nick Steffen said...

I have to admit, Nelson does seem to make good bibles (at least in terms of size, feel, quality, and price). Regardless of the translation, I ended up buying one just because of these factors.

At Fri Apr 13, 12:56:00 PM, Blogger R. Mansfield said...

Nick, I'm glad I have the discipline to avoid those factors. Otherwise I'd end up with a big stack of ESV Bibles :-)

At Fri Apr 13, 05:28:00 PM, Blogger Glennsp said...

John Radcliffe said..."By way of comparison, I don't actually know anyone else here who even *owns* a NASB, ESV or TNIV!"
I am from the UK and I know many people who own (and use) NASB, ESV & NIV, (also a few who own & use NKJV) but I know no one who owns a TNIV.
Oh yes, and I know one couple who still use the KJV.

At Fri Apr 13, 07:55:00 PM, Blogger opinion-minion said...

It makes me sad when I see a Gideon bible in a hotel, and it's the KJV. It's great to have the bible there, but it'd be better to have just about anything but!

I also wonder who in the world is buying the NKJV? KJV-ers sort've sniff at this peculiar sister to the KJV, and people who don't read the KJV seem to use the NIV or NASB. See, KJV people want the genuine "product" and non-KJV people don't want the KJV at all!

I realize that I've made generalizations here, but it does mystify me somewhat.

At Fri Apr 13, 08:41:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

I am from the UK and I know many people who own (and use) NASB, ESV & NIV, (also a few who own & use NKJV) but I know no one who owns a TNIV.
Oh yes, and I know one couple who still use the KJV.

And the incredible thing about this blog is that we all have something in common in spite of our differences. We all have a common interest.

At Fri Apr 13, 09:11:00 PM, Blogger anonymous said...

In the US, in the absence of a widely accepted Eastern Orthodox translation, the NKJV seems to be the most popular choice (at least in the New Testament) with a few liberal Orthodox leaders preferring the RSV or sometimes even the NRSV.

I suspect the NKJV is popular in part because it is available in a variety of inexpensive editions (as cheap as $1) that are often more attractive than similarly priced editions of other contemporary translations.

At Fri Apr 13, 10:20:00 PM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

Anon. noted:

In the US, in the absence of a widely accepted Eastern Orthodox translation, the NKJV seems to be the most popular choice (at least in the New Testament) with a few liberal Orthodox leaders preferring the RSV or sometimes even the NRSV.

This is true. I remember seeing the Bible used by one of my Orthodox cousins. It is an Orthodox reference edition of the NKJV.

At Sat Apr 14, 03:52:00 AM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

I know lots of people here in the UK who own and use TNIV. Most are in my church for, and because I was a prime mover in getting TNIV accepted as the official church Bible. Given that I promote TNIV and that Glenn supports those who immoderately oppose it, it is hardly surprising that there is such a difference between how many of our friends use it.

I also know quite a lot of people who like NKJV. It seems to be popular among a certain type of charismatic here in the UK.

At Tue Apr 17, 09:38:00 AM, Blogger R. Mansfield said...

Regarding the NKJV - Orthodox connection. Besides the preference for the textual tradition behind the NKJV, one of the high level corporate guys at Thomas Nelson (name is escaping me at the moment) is Orthodox. Therefore, there will continue to be fairly strong support for the Orthodox Church from Thom. Nelson.

At Wed Apr 18, 11:13:00 AM, Blogger R. Mansfield said...

Again, regarding the NKJV (if anyone is still reading these comments), I had a 7th Day Adventist-type person come to my door yesterday and drop off a DVD and a Bible study (don't worry--they won't get me!).

Anyway, I noticed that all the biblical quotations in both were from the NKJV except for one that quoted the KJV.

At Wed Apr 18, 12:14:00 PM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Rick, I at least am reading your comments, courtesy of the all comments feed. But maybe no one else, as at Bloglines I am the only subscriber to that feed. Well, I think Wayne as blog owner gets automatic notification of all comments.

If Orthodox and Adventists are buying NKJV, are they doing so from CBA stores? That might have some interesting implications.

At Wed Apr 18, 09:45:00 PM, Blogger R. Mansfield said...

No, I would guess they are not. Good point.

So who's buying them at the CBA stores?

At Thu Apr 19, 04:26:00 AM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

Actually, Rick, I was thinking that they probably were buying them at CBA stores, for convenience, although the stores may not realise this. That might have implications for the stores' marketing strategy e.g. they might want to stock books intended for Orthodox, Adventist etc readers, not I hope of the "repent of being Orthodox or Adventist and become a good evangelical" type but ones which would help them connect with the good and helpful aspects of their own churches' teachings.


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