Major Shift in the Top 10 Best-Selling Bible Translations the Past Year


Is the New Living Translation headed toward replacing the NIV as the No. 1 preferred translation?

There has been an amazing shift in the sales of Bible translations in less than a year. After years of relative stability, the King James Version (KJV) lost its No. 2 ranking. In fact, the KJV dropped two spots to No. 4. The modern language translation of the KJV, the New King James Version (NKJV), fell one spot.

While the New International Version (NIV) is still ranked as No. 1, the New Living Translation (NLT) has moved to the No. 2 spot, followed by the English Standard Version at No. 3. We realize that The Message is a paraphrase, not a translation.

Let’s look at the rankings, followed by a few of my observations.

Rankings as of March 2022 (numbers in parentheses are June 2021 rankings). 

1. New International Version (NIV) (1)

2. New Living Translation (3)

3. English Standard Version (ESV) (4)

4. King James Version (KJV) (2)

5. Christian Standard Bible (CSB) (6)

6. New King James Version (NKJV) (5)

7. Reina Valera (RV) (7)

8. New International Reader’s Version (NIrV) (8)

9. The Message (Message) (9)

10. New American Standard (NASB) (not ranked)

Observations and Notes:

If the King James Version remains at this level, it will signal a major shake-up in Bible translation preferences. It has held the No. 2 spot for many years. Is it a reflection of the decline or closings of smaller KJV-only churches? Or perhaps, it reflects cultural shifts. If a family wanted a Bible for the coffee table, they typically would pick a KJV. Families may not want a Bible at all in their homes.

Is the New Living Translation (NLT) headed toward replacing the NIV as the No. 1 preferred translation? While we don’t have market share data, we hear anecdotally that many pastors have moved to the NLT. Their congregations are likely following.

The New American Standard Bible (NASB) is back in the top 10 after a year’s absence.

The New King James Version (NKJV) was No. 3 10 years ago. It has gradually lost its ranking over the years to No. 6 today.

To learn more, here is the link to the rankings:

First published on Used by permission.

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