The Top Twenty Best-Selling Books Of All Time

Many people have enjoyed – and are still enjoying – our list of the 100 Greatest Novels Of All Time. We asked ourselves what other book lists might be interesting or useful and here’s one answer: the twenty best-selling books of all time.

Inevitably there are even bigger caveats around the definitiveness of this than the hundred great novels list. The most obvious thing to point out is that there haven’t been book charts and computerised sales records for most of the time printed books have been around, so any attempt at a chart is bound to involve a lot of estimation and guesswork. In the absence of a certified list this one falls back on the time-honoured route of judicious online research (in other words, please take up any issues with Google, Wikipedia et al).

It’s worth pointing out that although there’s one Chinese book here – and plenty of European ones amongst the British and American – there’s a strong likelihood this western-oriented list may simply have missed some best-sellers from around the world and the centuries.

We’ve excluded religious titles and also books updated regularly, like The Guinness Book Of Records, that might well be there if you took all the many editions into consideration. And there are plenty of series by authors as diverse as Ian Fleming and Enid Blyton that might, if taken together, bring their authors into this kind of chart.

All those caveats aside here’s our list and a note of the editions chosen – anything from the splendidly priced Wordsworth £1.99 classics to the sumptuous production standards of the Folio Society. Many of these books are out-of-copyright, of course, so available in numerous other editions.

Incidentally, only one title – The Catcher In The Rye – appears in both this and the ‘100 great novels’ listings. We’re not sure what that says about either list.

Finally, it’s a pleasure to see Black Beauty – a book published originally by Jarrolds, of course – getting onto this list.

Buy any of these massive best-sellers and get a second from the list at half price.

Chris Rushby
Jarrold Book Buyer

  Title Author Imprint RRP Approximate Sales
1  Don Quixote  Manuel Cervantes  Penguin Classics  £9.99 500 million
2  A Tale Of Two Cities  Charles Dickens   Wordsworth Classics  £1.99 200 million
3  The Alchemist  Paulo Coelho  HarperCollins  £8.99 150 Million
4  The Little Prince  Antoine de Saint-Exupery  Alma Classics  £6.99 140 million
5  Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone   JK Rowling  Bloomsbury  £7.99 107 million
6  Alice In Wonderland  Lewis Carroll  The Folio Society  £29.95 100 million
7  And Then There Were None  Agatha Christie  Harper Masterpiece  £7.99 100 million
8  The Hobbit  JRR Tolkien   HarperCollins  £7.99 100 million
9  Dream Of The Red Chamber (aka The Story Of The Stone)  Cao Xuequin  Penguin Classics  £14.99 100 million
10  The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe  CS Lewis  HarperCollins  £6.99 85 million
11  She  H Rider Haggard  Oxford World's Classics  £7.99 83 million
12  The Da Vinci Code   Dan Brown  Corgi  £7.99 80 million
13  Think And Grow Rich  Napoleon Hill  Vermilion  £9.99 70 million
14  The Bridges Of Madison County  Robert James Waller  Arrow  £8.99 60 million
15  The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes Arthur Conan Doyle Barnes & Noble  £18.00 60 million
16  Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea  Jules Verne  Wordsworth Classics  £1.99 60 million
17  The Catcher In The Rye  JD Salinger  Penguin   £8.99 55 million
18  Lolita  Vladimir Nabokov  Penguin Classics  £8.99 50 million
19  One Hundred Years Of Solitude  Gabriel Garcia Marquez  Penguin Modern Classics  £8.99 50 million
20  Black Beauty  Anna Sewell  Calla Editions  £20.00 50 million
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