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Top 10 bestselling Bible translations compared to 10 years ago

The 2011 NIV Bible was released in stores in March. The updated translation has drawn mixed reviews, with the latest criticism coming from the Southern Baptist Convention. |

There is a lot of stability in the preference of Bible translations, at least from the perspective of sales. The latest data I have is from the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association as of January 2020. The numbers in parentheses represent the rankings in 2011. As a caveat, I understand that some Bibles may be paraphrases rather than translations.

Rankings as January 2020 (numbers in parentheses are 2011 rankings) 

  1. New International Version (NIV) (1)
  2. King James Version (KJV) (2)
  3. New Living Translation (NLT) (4)
  4. English Standard Version (ESV) (5)
  5. New King James Version (NKJV) (3)
  6. Christian Standard Bible (CSB) (6)
  7. Reina Valera (RV) (not ranked)
  8. New International Reader’s Version (NIrV) (9)
  9. The Message (Message) (8)
  10. New American Standard Bible (NASB) (7)


  • The rankings are amazingly stable since 2011. One translation dropped three spots (NASB). One dropped two spots (NKJV). No other translation dropped or gained more than one spot. Technically, the CSB was the HCSB (LifeWay) in 2011.
  • The TNIV was discontinued in 2011. It was ranked 10 that year.
  • The NLT is “the quiet Bible.” The translation continues to gain readers without as much attention as other translations. It is now 3 in the rankings. I started reading the NLT this year and I love it.
  •  Obviously, the RV is a Spanish translation.

Originally posted at

Thom S. Rainer is the founder and CEO of Church Answers, an online community and resource for church leaders. Prior to founding Church Answers, Rainer served as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources.

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