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The 20 Best-Selling Books of All Time

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The Best Selling Books of All Time

We’ve all seen the decline of book sales over the past decade, due to online, downloadable versions and audiobooks. 

However, the good old fashioned paper book shouldn’t be discounted just yet, as the twenty best-selling books we’ve included on this list are still in high demand and selling strong. 

From classic novels to ancient dictionaries, the books mentioned on this list have been compiled based on total worldwide sales.

So, if you’re in the market for a new read, then here’s a list of the 20 best-selling books of all time.

Enjoy! 

 

The 20 Best-Selling Books of All Time

The list of books and figures mentioned below have been compiled from various sources around the web, such as Ranker & How Stuff Works.

These are the 20 best-selling books of all time:

 

20. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Best Selling Books - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Copies Sold: 50 Million

Starting off the list of the 20 best-selling books of all time is Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. 

Written by British author J.K Rowling, the Deathly Hallows is the seventh instalment in the Harry Potter series.

The book was released on 21, July 2007 by Bloomsbury publishing in the United Kingdom and Scholastic in the United States. 

Upon release, Deathly Hallows sold 8.3 million copies in the U.S and 2.65 in the UK within the first 24 hours, which awarded the book a Guinness World Record, for the most novels sold in 24 hours of release. 

The American Library named the book “Best book for Young Adults”.

 

19. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Best Selling Books - Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Copies Sold: 55 Million

The second Harry Potter book on our list is Order of the Phoenix.

Selling over 55 million copies to date, this titles surpassed its younger brother by approximately 5 million copies. 

It’s the fifth novel in the series and was published on 21 June 2003 by Bloomsbury Publishing in the UK and Scholastic in the U.S.

Within the first twenty-four hours of release, the “Order of the Phoenix” sold more than 5 million copies. 

The book went on to win several awards like the American Library Association award for “Best book for Young Adults” in 2003. 

 

18. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire 

Best Selling Books - Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Copies Sold: 55 Million

The eighteenth best selling book of all time is “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire”. 

This is the fourth novel in the series of books and was released on 8, July 2000. 

This was the first book in the series to be published in two countries at the same time, the United States and the United Kingdom. 

In 2001, the novel won a Hugo Award, and it was the only Harry Potter book to do so. 

Since finding its initial success, the book was adapted into a film and a video game, which both did extremely well. 

 

17. The Catcher in the Rye

Best Selling Books - The Catcher in the Rye

Copies Sold: 60 Million

The Catcher in the Rye has sold over 60 million copies worldwide since it was first published as a novel in 1951. 

The novel has been translated into almost all of the worlds major languages and sells approximately one million copies a year. 

Time Magazine included the novel in their list of the 100 Best English Language novels written since 1923, and it was listed fifteenth on the BBC’s survey, The Big Read. 

To date, the novel has sold roughly 60 million copies. 

 

16. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Best Selling Books - Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Copies Sold: 60 Million 

The fourth Harry Potter book on our list is the “Chamber of Secrets”. 

Selling over 60 million copies to date, this is the second fantasy novel in the Harry Potter Series. 

It was first published in the United Kingdom by Bloomsbury on 2 July 1988 and was published in the United States the following year by Scholastic Inc. 

The book received a lot of praise and awards from critics, which resulted in the film adaptation of the novel in 2002, which then went onto become the fifth highest-grossing film ever. 

Chamber of Secrets is the sixteenth best-selling book of all time. 

 

15. The Alchemist 

Best Selling Books - The Alchemist 

Copies Sold: 65 Million

The Alchemist was first published in 1988 and was written by, Portuguese author, Paulo Coelho

It was originally written in Portuguese but soon went on to become one of the most translated books in the world, eventually becoming an international bestseller. 

The novel follows a young Shepard from Andulasia, in his journey to the pyramids of Egypt, after continually having a repeating dream about finding treasure there.

The Alchemist is the fifteenth best-selling book of all time. 

 

14. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Best Selling Books - Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Copies Sold: 65 Million

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is the fifth Harry Potter book on our list and the sixth novel in the series. 

Selling over 65 million copies worldwide, the penultimate novel looks into the past of Harry’s nemesis Lord Voldemort and Harry’s preparations for his final battle against Lord Voldemort. 

The book was first published on 16 July 2005 in the UK and the U.S. and sold nine million copies in twenty-four hours after its release. 

The Half-Blood Prince won the “Book of the Year” award in 2006 and the film adaptation was released 15 July 2009. 

 

13. Think and Grow Rich 

Best Selling Books - Think and Grow Rich

Copies Sold: 70 Million

The next best-selling book of all time is Think and Grow Rich. 

Written by Napoleon Hill in 1937, as a personal development and self-improvement book, Think and Grow Rich has gone on to sell an impressive 70 million copies worldwide. 

Napoleon’s inspirations for the book came from a suggestion by railroad business magnate, Andrew Carnegie. 

Think and Grow Rich is still Napoleon Hill’s best-selling book and has been listed in John C. Maxwells, A Life of “Must Read” Books List.

Also, BusinessWeek Magazines Best-Seller List, ranked Think and Grow Rich as the sixth best-selling paperback business book, some seventy years after it was first published. 

If you’re looking to make some improvements in your life and want a formula for success, then this is well worth a read! 

 

12. The Da Vinci Code

Best Selling Books - The Da Vinci Code

Copies Sold: 80 Million

The Da Vinci Code is a mystery thriller novel by Dan Brown, released in 2003.

It’s a follow up to Browns 2000 novel, “Angels and Demons,” which also included the character Robert Langdon.

The book became a worldwide best-seller, selling approximately 80 million copies, and has been translated in to 44 languages. 

The book was so popular, that in 2006, Columbia Pictures decided to release a film adaptation; which became the second-highest grossing film of 2006 and brought in around $758 million dollars.

 

11. She: A History of Adventure

Best Selling Books - She- A History of Adventure

Copies Sold: 83 Million

Written by English novelist H.Rider Haggard, “She: A History of Adventure,” was extremely popular upon its release in 1887, and has never been out of print since. 

The book is inspired by Rider Haggards experiences in South Africa and British Colonialism.

It’s a first-person narrative that follows Horace Holly and Leo Vincey as their journey leads them to find a lost city in the African Interior. 

The novel was known for exploring female authority and female behaviour, and received both praise and criticism for how it represented womanhood.

 

10. The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe

Best Selling Books - The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe

Copies Sold: 85 Million

Kicking off the top ten is The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. 

One of the most well-known books on our list, it was released in 1950 and written by children’s novelist, C.S. Lewis. 

The fantasy novel was best known as being part of the “Chronicles of Narnia“, and was originally the first book in the Chronicles until recent years, where it was changed to second.

Lewis wrote the book for his goddaughter, Lucy Lewis, and the book went on to be featured in Time Magazines, 100 Best Young-Adult books of all time. 

Also, in 2003, the book was ranked ninth in the BBC’s, The Big Red Poll. 

 

9. The Hobbit

Best Selling Books - The Hobbit

Copies Sold: 100 Million

Next up, we have an extremely popular book: The Hobbit. 

Selling over 100 million copies worldwide to date, The Hobbit has earned its place amongst the best-selling books of all time.

The child fantasy novel, written by J.R.R. Tolkien, was first published on 21 September 1937, and was quickly nominated for the Carnegie Medal, and awarded a prize for best juvenile fiction, by the New York Herald Tribune. 

The Hobbit has since never been out of print and went on to have a film adaptation series made; which was first released in 2012, and became one of the highest grossing film series of all time. 

 

8. Dream of the Red Chamber 

Best Selling Books - Dream of the Red Chamber 

Copies Sold: 100 Million

Coming in at number eight on our list of the best-selling books of all time, is Dream of the Red Chamber. 

Considered to be one of Chinas four great classic novels, the book was written in the middle of the 18th century during the Qing dynasty. 

The novel has received a lot of praise over the years and is often referred to as a masterpiece of Chinese literature, and is known to be one of the pinnacles of Chinese fiction. 

Dream of the Red Chamber is also thought to be semi-biographical and has sold over 100 million copies to date. 

 

7. And Then There Were None

Best Selling Books - And Then There Were None

Copies Sold: 100 Million

Next on the list is a book that’s also sold over 100 million copies to date and is therefore the seventh best-selling books of all time. 

“And Then There Were None” is a mystery novel by English writer, Agatha Christie. 

Collins Crime Club first published the book in the United Kingdom in 1939 under a different name, and it was later published in America in 1940. 

Now, the book is the worlds best-selling mystery book; selling over 100 million copies world wide, and is the seventh best-selling book of all time. 

 

6. Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone

Best Selling Books - Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone

Copies Sold: 120 Million

The last Harry Potter Book to be featured on our list is the Philosophers Stone. 

The fantasy novel by British Author, J.K. Rowling, is the first novel in the Harry Potter series, and Rowling’s debut. 

Bloomsbury first published the book in the UK on 26 June 1997 and it was published in America the following year under the title of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. 

The book went on to win a ton of British and American book awards, and reached the top of the New York Times list of best-selling fiction in 1999; where it pretty much stayed until 2000. 

It’s been translated into 73 languages, and was the first of all the series to be made into a full length feature film of the same name. 

 

5. The Little Prince

Best Selling Books - The Little Prince

Copies Sold: 142 Million

In fifth place is “The Little Prince”, written by French aristocrat and writer Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. 

Selling over 142 million copies worldwide, the book was first published in English and French in the United States in 1943 by Reynal and Hitchcock.

It follows a boy who visits different planets in space and addresses themes of loneliness, love, friendship and loss.  

The book became Exupéry’s most successful work, and it’s one of the best-selling and most translated books ever published. 

 

4. The Lord of The Rings

Best Selling Books - The Lord of The Rings

Copies Sold: 150 Million

The Lord of The Rings is a high intensity fantasy novel written by J.R.R Tolkien, and is the sequel to his first book, The Hobbit. 

The book was originally intended to be part of a two-volume set, however; this was deemed a bad idea by the publisher, instead opting to release three volumes over the course of one year.

The books are: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers and The Return of the King. 

They’ve all been made into award-winning films and the books were named Britains best novel of all time in the BBC’s The Big Read in 2003. 

To date, The Lord of The Rings has sold over 150 million copies. 

 

3. A Tale of Two Cities 

Best Selling Books - A Tale of Two Cities 

Copies Sold: 200 Million

This 1859 historical novel by, Charles Dickens, was set in London and Paris before and during the French Revolution. 

The book is about the eighteen year imprisonment of French Doctor, Manette, in Bastille prison, Paris; and his eventual release to live in London with his daughter, Lucie. 

Many people believe that this is Dickens best-known work of historical fiction and it’s since sold a staggering 200 million copies worldwide. 

In 2003, the book was ranked 63rd on The BBC’s, The Big Red Poll, and inspired Johnathan Nolans screenplay for The Dark Night Rises. 

 

2. Xinhua Zidian

Best Selling Books - Xinhua Zidian

Copies Sold: 400 Million

In second place on our list of the best-selling books of all time, is Xinhua Zidian. 

This book is a little different to the rest on our as its a dictionary for the Chinese language. 

In 2016, Guinness World Records, confirmed that the dictionary is the “most popular dictionary” and the “best selling book at that time”. 

The pocket sized dictionary, includes 3,300 compounds and over 13,000 logograms; including traditional Chinese characters and variant Chinese characters. 

Currently, it’s the world’s best selling Chinese dictionary and the worlds most popular reference work. 

 

1. Don Quixote

Best Selling Books - Don Quixote

Copies Sold: 500 Million

Selling an eye-watering 500 million copies worldwide, Don Quixote is the best-selling book of all time. 

The Spanish novel by Miguel de Cervantes, was first published in two parts, in 1605 and 1615; and is considered to be the most influential work of literature from the Spanish age and literary canon. 

It’s also labelled as “the first modern novel”, and thought by many to be the best literary work ever written. 

By the 20th century, the novel was thought of as one of the foundations of modern literature. 

Don Quixote is the best-selling book of all time. 

 

Summary

We hope you enjoyed our list of the 20 best-selling books of all time. 

These books are obviously appealing to millions of people around the world and become more interesting and appealing as time goes on. 

So, maybe in a few months or a year down the line, we might have to update the list as there could be a new best-seller topping the list!

Here’s a quick recap of the 20 best-selling books of all time:

  1. Don Quixote
  2. Xinhua Zidian
  3. A Tale of Two Cities
  4. The Lord of The Rings
  5. The Little Prince
  6. Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone
  7. And Then There Were None
  8. Dream of the Red Chamber
  9. The Hobbit
  10. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. 
  11. She: A History of Adventure
  12. The Da Vinci Code
  13. Think and Grow Rich
  14. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
  15. The Alchemist 
  16. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
  17. The Catcher in the Rye
  18. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
  19. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
  20. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

What’s your favourite best-selling book? Leave a comment below.

Matt McIntyre is a digital content creator and certified marketing strategist. In a former life, Matt co-founded TWC Tailoring, a London based bespoke tailoring company, catering for an array of elite clientele. When he's not talking about business or marketing, you'll find him on a beach or by the pool.

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