In simple term, one could say a best-selling book refers to a book the sold better than other books. You’re indeed right if you say that, however, a lot of factors goes into determining a best-selling book.
In fact, few years ago people had pejorative term of what a best-selling book should be — suggesting it should be a type of book that should offer a reasonable amount literary value to the reader.
In 2021, a best-selling book is determined by the number of hits a book makes on the major bestsellers lists— for example printed in the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, USA TODAY, New York Times, or Publisher’s Weekly.
They also factor in the estimated number of copies sold of each book by the author. The Bible is the best-selling book of all time with an estimated 5 billion copies sold and distributed.
Sales estimates for other printed religious texts include at least 800 million copies for the Qur’an and 190 million copies for the Book of Mormon.
Among non religious texts, the Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-tung has estimates of 1 billion in distribution.
Sales numbers for these books are nearly impossible to track because many are given away by churches or governments.
Plus, these kinds of book may be produced by many different and unassociated publishers, in some cases over many centuries, many of them unreported.
For these reasons, major religious and political texts are not listed here, but we can all agree that they are among the top selling books of all-time.
Here are the top 20 best-selling books of all time.
|1.||Don Quixote||Miguel de Cervantes||500 million|
|2.||A Tale of Two Cities||Charles Dickens||200 million|
|3.||The Lord of the Rings||J.R.R. Tolkien||150 million|
|4.||Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone||J. K. Rowling||120 million|
|5.||The Little Prince||Antoine de Saint-Exupéry||100 million|
|6.||Dream of the Red Chamber||Cao Xueqin||100 million|
|7.||The Hobbit||J. R. R. Tolkien||100 million|
|8.||And Then There Were None||Agatha Christie||100 million|
|9.||The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe||C. S. Lewis||85 million|
|10.||She: A History of Adventure||H. Rider Haggard||83 million|
|11.||The Adventures of Pinocchio (Le avventure di Pinocchio)||Carlo Collodi||80 million|
|12.||The Da Vinci Code||Dan Brown||80 million|
|13.||Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets||J. K. Rowling||77 million|
|14.||Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban||J. K. Rowling||65 million|
|15.||Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire||J. K. Rowling||65 million|
|16.||Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix||J. K. Rowling||65 million|
|17.||Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince||J. K. Rowling||65 million|
|18.||Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows||J. K. Rowling||65 million|
|19.||The Alchemist (O Alquimista)||Paulo Coelho||65 million|
|20.||The Catcher in the Rye||J. D. Salinger||65 million|