NLT gaining ground for August 2008

CBA’s new stats for bible translation unit and dollar sales has been released for August 2008.

Unit Sales

  1. NIV
  2. NLT
  3. NKJV
  4. KJV
  5. ESV
  6. HCSB
  7. Reina Valera 1960 (Spanish)
  8. The Message
  9. NASB
  10. Int’l Children’s Bible

Dollar Sales

  1. NIV
  2. KJV
  3. NLT
  4. NKJV
  5. HCSB
  6. NASB
  7. ESV
  8. The Message
  9. TNIV
  10. Int’l Children’s Bible

What has surprised me is that the NLT has gained the #2 spot in unit sales. Previously, the NKJV and KJV were holding #2 and #3 spots for the last little while but it looks like the NLT has pulled ahead to #2. Just by glancing at the bookshelves at Christian bookstores, I see that the NLT is taking up more shelf space these days. It is getting to be a very popular translation and I wouldn’t be surprised if it will one day catch up to the NIV. The sales person at the Canadian Bible Society told me that demand for the KJV has been decreasing because there are so many new translations out there today. The KJV readership will continually decrease as people learn that other translations are better.

It seems like the ESV and HCSB are holding quite steady at around the #5 and #6. The TNIV was knocked off the top 10 list for unit sales this month. I think readership of the ESV, HCSB and TNIV will continue to increase. They are excellent translations. The NASB is still holding its own ground.

11 thoughts on “NLT gaining ground for August 2008

  1. In the US and Canada? Millions of literate people who want Bibles but can’t afford them (or get one for free)? Surely you jest.

    But my point was this — it is significant that there is such a disparity between unit sales and dollar sales. That means that (relatively) cheap NLT editions are the ones that are selling.

    I suspect that a huge fraction of people aren’t even aware of which Bible translation they own (or read).


  2. Ted, welcome to New Epistles. Yes I see that on Wycliffe Bible Translators website. They’re committed to helping people get access to scripture who normally have none or little access. Translators serving around the world really understand the importance of accessibility. It’s a great ministries that we should prayerfully support and financially support.


  3. The NIV has been my translation of choice for many years, although I have also used NKJV, NASB, and sporadically the HCSB.

    I am reading the NLT and I like it. I have great respect for Wycliffe Bible Translators and notice that the NLT is featured on their website. That says something very positive to me.


  4. I disagree, Kevin. I believe a large fraction of Bible sales are from people who value “The Bible” and want to buy it as cheaply as possible regardless of translation (especially for missionary work.)

    If you want to find which translation people value, find out how much they are willing to pay for their Bible.


  5. @Iyov, even if some NLTs are not bought by personal purchases, they say something about why people prefer a certain translation. It is not always a matter of bibles being easy-reading or good marketing. There’s usually a good reason why a translation is preferred. The NLT is inherently a good quality translation for those who prefer to read a dynamic translation.

    @Byron & TC, yes, it’s partly due to the NLTse improvements that has increased its demand. Its #2 spot is a pleasant surprise for this month.

    @Keith, thanks for your clarification on this.


  6. The NLT is the big surprise to me, but again not really.

    Well, the TNIV does good on dollars but not units.


  7. @Iyov: The NLT doesn’t currently have any $1 pamphlets for sale in CBA bookstores. If the spike can be attributed to any single product, it would be Operation Worship, a $5 complete Bible that people purchase, write a note inside the cover, and then they get sent to soldiers either overseas or about to deploy.


  8. There are two Bible bookstores and two large secular bookstores close to me. I’ve noticed a huge increase in the amount of NLTs on their shelves in the last year or so. I suspect the increase in likability is due to the Second Edition and the 2007 updates.


  9. The KJV readership will continually decrease as people learn that other translations are better.

    Well, I doubt that any authority has asserted that the NLT is “better” than the KJV. Since more than half of the translations you list have been out for more than a decade, there has been been ample time for people to “learn” that they “are better.”

    Clearly, the spike in NLT unit sales reflects the sales of the $1 NLT pamphlets (and other cheap versions) that have been flooding the market. The fact that dollar sales are higher for the KJV shows that people who buy more expensive Bibles (in the $5 range and higher) are choosing the KJV.


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