My Best Selling Bibles by Translation for Jan – Mar 2012

It’s been a while since I’ve done a best-seller report for my Bible department. Here’s the top ten by translation for January through March 2012. We’ll work from the bottom up and after that I’ll offer a few thoughts.

# 10 – NRSV

# 9 – The Voice

# 8 – The Message

# 7 – NASB

# 6 – TNIV

# 5 – NKJV

# 4 – ESV

# 3 – NLT

# 2 – KJV

# 1 – NIV

This list surprised me. I was not surprised to see the NIV being at the top. She has held that spot with relative ease for some time now. Normally, the ESV comes in strong at second place. To see it drop to fourth was a surprise. For most stores I would imagine the TNIV is a thing of the past but it still has a solid place for my customers but its days are numbered. Coming in at ninth was The Voice. It was featured in one of our recent catalogs which gave it some visibility and I think explains its presence. Two translations are noticeably absent: HCSB and CEB (Common English Bible). The HCSB is usually in the top ten for nation-wide sales and the CEB just made it in for April. The HCSB has had a significant drop in my sales in the past couple of years and the CEB has not quite caught on yet. Tomorrow I will show you my top 10 selling Bibles for this same quarter.

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About Louis

I am a 1997 graduate of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.
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13 Responses to My Best Selling Bibles by Translation for Jan – Mar 2012

  1. Although difficult to get, it would be interesting to capture the metrics on how many switch translations (say from NASB to NIV) after holding a preferred one for x number of years.
    Example:
    In 2012, 4,387 people switched to ESV after favoring the NRSV for more than 3 years.

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  2. Timothy says:

    Louis,

    A blessed Easter to you! Just curious on how your sales of the NAB Revised Edition have been. I know that Baker primarily deals in the Protestant Christian market, but I also know that you were selling some editions of the NABRE as of last year.

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    • Louis says:

      Timothy,
      You’re right about my market. Unfortunately, during this time period I only sold two of the NABRE. I have read some pretty hard criticisms of the NAB. I don’t know what you think of it but do you think the revised edition was a significant improvement?

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  3. Louis says:

    Paul,
    Excellent question. I wish I knew. Sounds like something LifeWay Research could do. I don’t have any facts to back this up but my experience is that the ESV has cut most heavily into the NASB market. The NIV2011 is just starting to reach the lay consciousness and I’m getting more and more customers expressing either delight or contempt. A few churches here have switched to ESV because of the NIV change.

    Timothy,
    A couple of years ago I separated the Catholic Bibles out from the rest of the Bibles. They would not have been included in these stats. I’ll run a report this week and let you know what I find out.

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  4. bitznbitez says:

    Without asking you to divulge actual sales numbers could you also show relative percents to see how far the spread really is?

    And are national monthly numbers like this available somewhere?

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    • Louis says:

      I’d be glad to share the numbers. I’ve updated the post accordingly and provided a link where you can find national sales. Thanks for asking!

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  5. bitznbitez says:

    Two things interest me. First the consistently high kjv rankings in modern times. I come from fairly conservative circles and most people I knew didn’t read it much anymore. Who is buying kjv now.

    Second the ESV … did it see a spike after niv2011 and is it now subsiding.

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    • John Mashek says:

      Louis,
      If the NIV 2011 doesn’t “catch on” that well, would it be outside the realm of possiblity that we might see a re-publishing of the NIV 1984?
      John – Akron, OH

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      • Louis says:

        John,
        It’s an excellent question but, honestly, I don’t think so. Of course what it means to “catch on” is anyone’s guess. But I think what you mean is if sales fall significantly. Only time will tell but I suspect even if sales do fall a new generation will rise up which is completely unaware of this controversy and sales will begin to recover. That’s only my guess but I’ve been doing this long enough that I can see it happening.

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        • John Mashek says:

          Louis,
          Thank you for your answer. I have to agree that only time will tell.
          But, in your opinion, what translation do you feel is one that you would use and feel that it represented what was in the Hebrew and Greek manuscripts?
          I know that I’m putting you on the spot with this question but I’d like your thoughts.
          Thanks,
          John

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  6. bitznbitez says:

    Question on the KJV rank. Your sales are what most others report. But if you see folks shopping what do your KJV buyers look like. Are these bibles to read or bibles to give away and they just happen to look like a bible is supposed to look -vs- the study bible look of the NIV product.

    I see NIV most places and all the people I know are not carrying a KJV after a certain age. And there is an incredible purchasing of NIV for the childrens classes across most of the churches i have observed.

    I thought perhaps the KJV numbers were higher from institutional purchasing but your figures would be purely retail wouldn’t they.

    Help me understand the driver behind high kjv still.

    Thanks!

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    • Louis says:

      These figures are “purely retail” for my store although in national sales the KJV is still very strong. Most of my KJVs are bought by individuals. While my NIV sales dwarf all the others there is still a good demand for the KJV in my market. Oddly enough I don’t sell a lot of gift and award Bibles in the KJV (which are generally used for give away purposes). Most of them are text Bibles or study Bibles. What’s the driver? I think there is a strong sentimental tie to the KJV for many of my customers. I don’t have many KJV-only customers coming in that I am aware of. For others there is an appreciation for the old English. I’m not sure I can tie the driver down to one factor but I hope that helps.

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