Through the use of paper, the invention of printing, the reduction of manufacturing costs and the spread of literacy, the books slowly became the worldwide mass medium for spreading education, stories and propaganda. Of course, this raises an interesting question that which books are the greatest best-sellers of all time, regardless of genres, countries, languages and cultures and measured exclusively by distribution or sales figures. Our list below presents the best-selling books of all time, including the respective sales figures.

Criteria and sorting

The list of best-selling books of all time is purely based on sales figures, starting with most sales presented in a descending order. For books with the same sales figures, sorting is done alphabetically.

It should be noted that sales of books do not always necessarily coincide with their distribution. In particular, religious works such as the Bible or the Quran, but also political writings of ideologies such as Hitler or Mao were and are often copied and distributed free of charge. Regarding these exceptions, where actual distribution was estimated, this list could be called The Most Popular Books Ever or The Most Successful Books Ever.


1. The Bible – 2-3 billion

Most selling book

Bible is the most sold and distributed book since it was first printed almost 600 years back. Moses is credited with writing the first five books that now are a part of the Bible.

2. Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-tung – 1-1.5 bn

Most selling books

It consists of speeches and writings by Chairman of the communist Party of China, Mao Zedong. It was first published in 1964 and has been widely distributed since then.

3. The Quran – 800 million

most selling books of all time

Muhammad wrote the Quran orated by Jibril and was originally revealed by god. It was written about 1400 years back.

4. Don Quixote – 500 million

Don Quixote

Don Quixote was written by the Spanish writer Miguel de Cervantes and was published in 1605.

4. The Communist Manifesto – 500 million

The Communist manifesto
Barnes & Noble

It was the manifesto of the communist party that was published in 1848. It was written by communist philosophers Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels.

5. The Poems of Mao Zedong – 400 million

The Poems of Mao Zedong

The Poems of Mao Zedong was published in 1966. It contains the poems written by Mao Zedong, the Chairman of the communist party of China.

5. Xinhua Zidian – 400 million

Xinhua Zidian

Xinhua Zidian is a Chinese dictionary published in 1953. This book helped the world to connect with China.

6. Mao Tse-tung – Selected Works – 252 million

Slelected works

This book contains the writings of Mao Tse-tung and was published in. It contains Mao Tse-tung’s thoughts on the Chinese Society.

7. The Tale of Two Cities – 200 million

A tale of two cities
Penguin random house

The tale of two cities was written by Charles Dickens and was published in 1859. It combines both political and personal events.

8. Boy Scout Handbook- 150 million

Boy Scout handbook

It was a book published by the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. There have been several editions of the book since then.

8. The Lord of the Rings – 150 million

The lord of the rings

It was out of this book that the movie of the same name was adapted from. It was written by J. R. R. Tolkien and was first published in 1954.

9. The Little Prince – 140 million

The little prince

The Little Prince was written by the french novelist Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and was first published in 1943. All of the authors works including The Little Prince was banned by the Vichy Regime back in the 1940’s.

10. Book of Mormon – 120 million

Book of Mormon

Book of Mormon is the compilation of the ancient writings by prophets between 2200 BC to 421 AD. It was published in 1830.

11. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – 107 million

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

The Harry Potter series is written by J. K. Rowling. The first book was published in 1997.

12. The Hobbit – 100 million

The Hobbit

The Hobbit was written by J. R. R. Tolkien and was published in 1937.

12. The dream of the Red Chamber – 100 million

The Dream of Red Chamber

It was written by Cao Xueqin during the Qing Dynasty in China and was published in 1791.

12. And then there were none – 100 million

And then there were none

The Novel is great work of the famous writer Agatha Christie. It was published in 1939 in the United Kingdom.

12. The Three Represents – 100 million

The three represents

The three represents is a guiding socio-political theory written by Jiang Zemin. It was published in 2002.

13. The Lion The Witch And The Wardrobe – 85 million

The Narnia

It is the first amongst the seven novels written by C. S. Lewis in The Chronicles of Narnia. It was first published in 1984.

14. You – 83 million

You-a novel

The book is written by Caroline Kepnes and was originally published in 2014. Since then it has been translated into 19 languages.

15. The Alchemist – 65 million

The Alchemist

The Alchemist is a novel written by Brazilian author Paulo Coelho and was first published in 1988. It was first written in Portugeese.

15. The catcher in the rye – 65 million

The catcher in the rye

The catcher in the rye was written by author J. D. Salinger and was published separately between 1945-1946 and as a single novel in 1951.

16. Think and Grow rich – 60 million

Think and grow rich

It was written by Ben Holden-Crowther and Napoleon Hill in 1939. It is a personal development and self-improvement book.

16. The Way to Christ – 60 million

The way to christ

The Way to Christ was written by Jakob Böhme in 1622. The book talks about pleasing God through education, literacy, social justice, health care, and economic development.

17. Sacrilege – The Da Vinci Code – 57 million

The Da Vinci Code

It was written by Dan Brown in 2003 and it created controversy as soon as it was published.

18. Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary – 55m

Merriam Webster
Merriam Webster

Since 1806, when the first was Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary was published, it has been the most famous American Dictionary of the English Language.

19. Anne of Green Gables – 50m

Anne of Green Gables

It was written by Lucy Maud Montgomery and was published in 1908. It is a classic children’s novel.

19. Black Beauty – 50m

Black Beauty

Black Beauty was written by Anna Sewell and was published in 1877. She wrote it in the final years of her life.

19. The Eagle has landed – 50 million

The eagle has landed

It was written by the British writer Jack Higgins and was published in 1975. The novel is based on World War 2.

19. The name of the rose – 50 million

The name of the rose

Umberto Eco wrote this novel in 1980. It was a murder mystery linking fiction, biblical analysis, medieval studies and literary theory to the murder.

19. Heidi: Her Years of Wandering and Learning – 50 million

Great Ilustrated classics

Johanna Spyri wrote the children’s fiction novel that was published in 1881. It was first published in two parts – Heidi: Her Years of Wandering and Learning and Heidi: How She Used What She Learned.

19. The Kon-Tiki Expedition: By Raft Across the South Seas – 50 Million

The kon-tiki expedition

The book was written by Thor Heyerdahl about his travels across the Pacific Ocean on a balsa tree raft. It was published in 1948.

19. Lolita – 50 million


Lolita was written by Vladimir Nabokov and was first published in 1955. Its a novel about the controversial subject of a 12 year old’s affair with an aged professor.

19. Benjamin Spock’s The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care – 50 million

Dr. Benjamin Spoke
Big shocking

It was written by Benjamin Spock and was published in 1946. It has been translated into 39 languages since then.

19. Watership Down – 50 million

Watership down

Richard Adams wrote this survival-adventure novel and it was first published in 1972.

20. The Hite Report: A National Study of Female Sexuality – 48 million

The Hite report
Seven stories

This book was written by Shere Hite about the unexplored and often ill considered female sexuality. It was published in 1982.

Facebook Comments