It is difficult to determine the biggest selling book of all time. Most researchers agree that religious books like the Qur’an and the Bible are the most printed. However, many of these are given away. The following is a list of books with the most copies sold.
Number one is a Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens published in 1859. It has sold over 200 million copies. At number two is the Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien. Since their publication from 1954–1955, the books have sold 150 million copies.
At the third spot is the Hobbit also by J. R. R. Tolkien. Since its publication in 1937, it has sold over 100 million copies. All these books were first published in English.
At number four is the Dream of the Red Chamber by Cao Xueqin. It has sold 100 million copies since its publication (1759-1791). It was first published in Chinese. Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None has also sold 100 million copies since 1939.
Books That Have Sold Between 50 and 100 Million Copies
One of the biggest selling books of all time is C. S. Lewis’ the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (1950). It has sold 85 million copies. That would place it fifth on the list of best selling tomes. At sixth spot is She by H. Rider Haggard (1887) with 83 million.
Tied for 7th place are Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s Le Petit Prince (1943) and Dan Brown’s the Da Vinci Code (2003). Both have sold 80 million copies.
At number eight is the Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger (1951). The book has so far sold 65 million. Tied for the same spot is O Alquimista (The Alchemist) by Paulo Coelho. The book was originally published in Portuguese in 1988. At the number 9 spot is Steps to Christ by Ellen G. White. Since 1892, it has sold 60 million copies.
The following books have all sold 50 million copies:
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov (1955), Heidis Lehr- und Wanderjahre by Johanna Spyri (1880), the Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care by Dr. Benjamin Spock (1946) and Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery.
It should be stressed that any attempt to list the biggest selling book of all time can only be an estimate. This is because numerous copies of the books can be purchased at any time.