Best Selling Bible Translations – 2009

The Christian Booksellers Association has just published its list of best selling bible translations for 2009 based on both dollar and unit sales. Here are the lists, but keep in mind that the ranking is based only on sales in US Christian retail stores.

2009 – Based on Dollar Sales

  1. New International Version
  2. New King James Version
  3. King James Version
  4. New Living Translation
  5. English Standard Version
  6. Holman Christian Standard Bible
  7. New American Standard Bible updated
  8. The Message
  9. New International Readers Version
  10. Today’s New International Version

2009 – Based on Unit Sales

  1. New International Version
  2. King James Version
  3. New King James Version
  4. New Living Translation
  5. English Standard Version
  6. Holman Christian Standard Bible
  7. The Message
  8. New International Readers Version
  9. New American Standard Bible updated
  10. Reina Valera 1960 (Spanish)

It is interesting that little has changed from the unit sales list they published for 2006. Here it is for comparison.

2006 – Based on Unit Sales

  1. New International Version
  2. New King James Version
  3. King James Version
  4. New Living Translation
  5. English Standard Version
  6. Reina Valera 1960 (Spanish)
  7. Holman Christian Standard Bible
  8. New American Standard Bible updated
  9. The Message
  10. New International Readers Version

Lastly, these sales rankings do not include specialty or study bibles. Here is that list for 2009.

2009 – Study and Specialty Bibles

  1. Every Day With Jesus Bible (CSB)
  2. Chronological Study Bible (NKJ)
  3. Study Bible (ESV)
  4. Life Application Study Bible Revised (NIV)
  5. God Sightings the One Year Bible (NLT)
  6. Daily Bible in Chronological Order 365 Daily Readings (NIV)
  7. God Sightings the One Year Bible (NIV)
  8. Study Bible (KJV)
  9. Life Application Study Bible (NLT)
  10. Personal Size Giant Print Reference Bible (KJV)

Personally, I use the ESV as my primary bible because I favor the “essentially literal” translation, but use the NLT and The Message as secondary cross-reference bibles.

Care to share what your favorite version is and why.

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15 Responses to “Best Selling Bible Translations – 2009”

  1. ron cole says:

    In the context I find myself these days I’m using the Message more, than my NLT and NSV. It would be interesting to see which faith communities/ denominations are using what.

    • Bud Woods says:

      “The Message” has so many mis-translations and mis-interpretations of idioms used in the original languages that it is worse than useless for serious Bible study. Peterson frequently interjects his opinions [often wrong and baseless] as ‘dynamic equivalences’ of the original texts. A serious student cannot be sure if they are getting Peterson’s opinions or what the recorders wrote. Dynamic equivalence translations can be useful to clarify meanings but informal, often sloppy, opinion based paraphrases should be left at the bookstore.

  2. Rick Meigs says:

    Ron, that would be interesting. I’ve also often wondered if the version we use personnally tells us anything about ourselves. Would be fascinating to match Myers-Briggs typology against version used.

  3. [...] Best-selling Bible translations of 2009. [...]

  4. Mary says:

    For general readability I like the NLT, but my primary Bible currently is NASB.

  5. Rick Meigs says:

    Thanks for sharing Mary.

  6. Mary says:

    Glad you’re back, Rick :)

  7. Rick Meigs says:

    Thanks Mary!

  8. kirkus maximus says:

    Thanks for the posting.

    I use NASB but have started reading the entire through in other versions, first KJV then probably Amplified and then The Message.

    I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading one chapter at a time and getting out several different versions and comparing them (and looking at select words in Greek). Occasionally the Message is insightful but it’s rarely accurate when compared to the Greek.

    I wonder if there’s a list of ALL Bible versions in existence…

  9. Robert W. says:

    I am a recent Catholic convert. The version I read before converting was the NKJV, which I still use. When I was in the process of converting I was given a New American Bible which is a Catholic version and was very disappointed with it, it sounded so dull and flat compared to what I was used to (I have found that there is quite a bit of criticism about these translation among the Catholic community). Which led me to discover the RSV Catholic Edition (which I now consider to be the most enjoyable version Protestant or Catholic for me). But when I study the Bible I like to compare many translations. Right now I have the RSV Catholic Edition, the NKJV, King James, NASB, NLT, NIV, NAB (which I have grown a little more found of and have found it has some strengths especially in the Pauline letters. And I plan on getting an ESV and Holman Christian Standard Bible. I prefer literal translations but sometimes I like to compare with a dynamic equivalence which I use the NIV and NLT for I find The Message and Amplified Bibles way to paraphasic and unenjoyable for me.

  10. A note about the ranking of the translation: there is one serious flaw in looking only at raw rankings. The Reina Valera, the Spanish Bible, is the KJV essentially in Spanish. If you combine the figures for Reina Valera and KJV, it would bump up KJV higher, very possibly to the top rank in unit sales.
    Also, the dollar rank is misunderstood because the KJV is often free or very inexpensive because it is without copyright in the public domain: therefore the total average expenditure of a KJV will include high end bibles as well as many more $1-5 bibles, bringing the average revenue down.

    2011 marks the 400th anniversary of the KJV, mostly based on Tyndale’s translation: it is the one non-arian apostolic line of translation, unlike all the others. It deserves its due.

  11. Holly Garcia says:

    I would strongly caution people against the Message. It uses new age words like light-seed, joy-seed, and occult language……

    Edited by Blindbeggar: I’ve deleted the remainder of this 600+ word post. Holly made her point in her first sentence.

  12. Rose Dayto says:

    In my daily bible reading and devotion I use CEV of bible but I also take with me NIV.Honestly I want to buy new one like NLT or NKJ.What would you think the best for me as youth/teenager?.:)

    • Rick Meigs says:

      Rose, I’d go with the NLT, but it is just a personal choice. It’s a good translation and easy to read.