Tyndale House Publishers Best Sellers and a Little History: 1962-2012

This year Tyndale House Publishers celebrates their 50th anniversary. At the International Christian Retail Show Tyndale presented attendees of the CBA member lunch with a copy of The Tyndale House 50th Anniversary Reader. It is a beautiful book with selections from many of their publications. I started browsing through it and found it much more interesting that I initially thought I would. There are many stories of how books came to see the light of publication. One story in particular caught my interest. It is the story behind The One Year Bible. This was the brain child of Ken Taylor himself. He knew many people wanted to read through the Bible but never made it through to the end. Many, in fact, gave up after the first few books. He devised a plan of dividing the Bible into 365 daily readings “with each day’s portion including a few chapters from the Old Testament, a chapter from the New Testament, a Psalm, and a few verses from Proverbs.” (439) Ken discussed this with his staff but they were not convinced. They didn’t think anyone would like the Bible all chopped up like that. But Ken did not give up. Mark Taylor, Ken’s son, says,

“Dad did not play the ‘owner’s card’ very often. He was usually willing to listen to counsel from others. But this time he responded in his quiet, gravelly voice, ‘Well, I’d like to try it anyway.’ So what could we do? After all, he did own the company.” (440)

Well, by “the time the first printing of five thousand copies arrived the printer, they had all been presold, and a second printing was quickly arranged.” (440) After that Tyndale approached Zondervan to do a NIV version and Zondervan agreed. The first version was done with The Living Bible in 1985. The NIV was done in 1986, the KJV and The Catholic Living Bible in 1987, the New American Standard in 1989, the New King James Version in 1992, the New Living Translation in 1996 and the English Standard Version in 2005. Needless to say this was a huge success. Ken Taylor’s insistence paid off and thousands of people have been successful in reading through the Bible in a year using this format. I did it three consecutive years using the NLT and it’s my preferred method for reading through the Bible in a year. Here’s one bit of information I found especially interesting.

“Mark Taylor remembers an interesting sidelight regarding the very first printing of The One Year Bible. Just before the typesetting was started, there was a discussion among various Tyndale staffers as to whether readers would be discouraged on their very first day by having to wade through the genealogy in Matthew 1:1-17. Someone suggested that perhaps we should skip it altogether. When the books arrived from the printer, they did not contain the genealogy verses, but whether or not this was Ken Taylor’s actual intention has been lost to history. Nevertheless, the omission seemed significant, so the type was reset in time for the second printing. The genealogy has been included in the January 1 reader ever since.”

At the back of the book is a listing of some of the best sellers. Here are just a few with the year of publication in parentheses:

Books with sales of 10 million copies

Power for Living, by Jamie Buckingham, (1998)

More Than a Carpenter, by Josh McDowell (1977)

The Book of Hope, compiled by Tyndale editors (1999)

Series with sales of 50 million copies

Left Behind (16 titles), Tim LaHaye & Jerry B. Jenkins (1995-2007)

Series with sales of 10 million copies

Left Behind: The Kids (40 titles), Jerry B. Jenkins & Tim LaHaye with Chris Fabry (1998-2004)

Bible translations with sales of 40 million copies

The Living Bible paraphrased by Ken Taylor (1971)

Bible translations with sales of 25 million copies

Holy Bible, The New Living Translation by the NLT Bible Translation Committee (1996, 2004, 2007)


About Louis

I am a 1997 graduate of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.
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3 Responses to Tyndale House Publishers Best Sellers and a Little History: 1962-2012

  1. Clay Knick says:

    Great story! Thanks for sharing this. I’d love to have a copy of that book.


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