The Bible is listed as the world’s best selling book. I recently looked at an atheist website claiming it is not, but their arguments ranged from silly to just plain untrue.
So what are the facts?
For starters, the Guinness World Records estimate that over 5 billion copies of the Bible have been sold. That puts the Bible head and shoulders above any other book printed!
In a list compiled in Russell Ash’s The Top 10 of Everything 2002 it was estimated that the Bible has sold over 6 billion copies. Second place was Mao Tse-Tung’s “Quotations from Chairman Mao” at 900 million. Quite a difference!
Both the CBA (Association for Christian Retail) and ECPA (Evangelical Christian Publishers Association) agree that the top three Bible versions are: 1) New International Version, 2) King James Version, and 3) New King James Version.
One dealer in Bibles makes this statement: “The King James Bible remains the greatest book in the English language, and the best-selling book of all time.”
What I find interesting in all of this is the fact that the KJV Bible is no longer pushed by major publishing houses. They may print and sell them, but their marketing is aimed at their own version. For example, Zondervan publishes and sells KJV Bibles, but their marketing efforts are aimed primarily at the New International Version, which they own.
So in spite of the publishing houses moving away from the KJV it still is one of the top selling Bibles today. It seems to come in regularly at second place. That’s pretty good considering the lack of real marketing.
But since 1611 A.D., when it was first printed, the KJV has dominated the market and is the number one all time sales leader. How do we explain this?
In a Christianity Today article back in 2014 it said this, “When Americans reach for their Bibles, more than half of them pick up a King James Version (KJV), according to a new study advised by respected historian Mark Noll.
“The 55 percent who read the KJV easily outnumber the 19 percent who read the New International Version (NIV). And the percentages drop into the single digits for competitors such as the New Revised Standard Version, New America Bible, and the Living Bible.”
55 percent to 19 percent. That is crushing! But, again, I ask why?
Why is it that the NIV, which has dominated sales for decades, is a poor second to KJV Bibles being read? Or why is it that the ABS’s State of the Bible report points out that 52 percent of Americans read the King James Version while only 11 percent read the New International Version?
Among several reasons given, one study noted that 56 percent of women, 39 percent of men, and 70 percent of African Americans are more likely to read the Bible. But still no answer regarding the KJV.
In my search for an answer I found many pros and cons relating to the King James Version, but never an explanation of its power. But if you think about it, we don’t need experts.
I think that most Christians who have and read their KJV do so because it speaks to their hearts. Forget the so-called difficulty of the language. Children learn to read and memorize it from all over the English speaking world.
The true power of the King James Version is not its accuracy (often dismissed but never really disproved), nor its poetic form (which enables easy memorization), nor its strong supporters. It is powerful because of all of that, but more so because historically God has used it in countless thousands, hundreds of thousands, yes, millions of lives!
No other version can make that claim, although they try to do so.