Bestselling Bible Translations at the End of 2022

It is a fascinating exercise to see which Bible translations are preferred in the United States. This data comes from the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association, whose methodology is comprehensive and fair.

I am comparing the 2022 end-of-year data with another summary I did in June 2021. In other words, the comparative rankings are 18 months apart. The numbers in parentheses are the rankings as of June 2021.

1. New International Version (NIV) (1)

2. English Standard Version (ESV) (4)

3. New Living Translation (NLT) (3)

4. Christian Standard Bible (CSB) (6)

5. King James Version (KJV) (2)

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

7. Reina Valera (RV) (7)

8. New International Reader’s Version (NIrV) (9)

9. New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) (not ranked)

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

No longer in the top ten bestselling translations:

  • The Message (Message) (8)
  • Nueva Version International (NVI) (10)



  • The biggest surprise is the drop in the King James Version from 2nd to 5th.  It is a significant drop in just 18 months. If this ranking becomes normative, it behooves us to do a deeper dive to understand why this translation has fallen from favor for many Bible readers.
  • The biggest beneficiaries of the KJV decline are the English Standard Version, the New Living Translation, and the Christian Standard Bible. All three of those translations are relatively new in the history of English translations.
  • The New International Version remains the best-selling translation. Though we don’t have market share data, we anecdotally surmise that the NIV is losing market share to the next  three translations (ESV, NLT, CSB). There has not become a clear-cut “heir apparent” for the number one ranking if the NIV does indeed lose its place as the best-selling translation. Based on our conversations with church leaders, we could see either the ESV or the NLT taking the top position. Both of these translations have been in the second spot at different months of the year.
  • We were surprised to see the NASB return to the top ten rankings after falling out 18 months ago.
  • Disclosure: Church Answers has a partnership with Tyndale and the NLT. Also, I was the CEO of the company that commissioned the CSB.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this information.

Posted on January 2, 2023

With nearly 40 years of ministry experience, Thom Rainer has spent a lifetime committed to the growth and health of local churches across North America.
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  • Thanks for this, brother.
    If you have that stat, Would you please list the top 5 versions best sellers in SPANISH?
    I´m leading my church to have a common version in public gatherings. I´m a RVR60 fan but my congregation is mainly latinamericans and that one was made for the Spaniards. So, we went to RVC for 6 years but it went out of print. Therefore, we are leaning towards NBLA now but I would like to know how big is its print before proposing anything.
    If you don’t have that stat, what could be a trustworthy source of information in this regard?
    I´m thankful for your work!

  • Alexander Thomson says on

    I had posted the following in the comments for the article of March 28, 2022 but I realise that it probably should be here!

    Alexander Thomson says on July 14, 2023 at 12:34 am
    Dear Thom,

    Thank you for your continuing work in Bible matters.

    I refrained from further comment on Bible statistics, until the completion of the [extended] report, for the thirty years from 1993 to 2022 inclusive, of the Serious Bible Student’s Project (SBSP).

    As far as I am aware, only the Evangelical Christian Publishers’ Association (ECPA) publish annual statistics of the “Top Ten Best-Selling Bibles” – ie, for the US : there seem to be no corresponding statistics for the UK.
    But, such sales statistics must be cautiously received. In particular, the NIV may be the US best-seller, but many of its copies go abroad, and so are not read in the US; and there are individuals and organisations that publish and distribute the KJV, but do not register data with ECPA or other(s).

    The following extracted (audited) data sets out a synopsis of the position for US General Readers. [There are separate data for each of three other categories : US Serious Students, UK General Readers, UK Serious Readers].

    1903 and 2011 and 2014 and 2017 and 2022

    The Bible versions are stated in the order : KJV, NKJV, “KJV” (as surveys show that respondents can confuse or confound, or use together or alternately, KJV and NKJV), ESV, “TOP 3”, NIV, “TOP 4” – seven results in all.
    1993 66 8 74 na 74 9 83

    2011 63 6 69 2 71 8 79

    2014 44 10 54 6 60 17 77

    2017 39 12 51 12 63 12 75

    2022 24 14 38 21 59 8 67

    I have found that individuals can be shocked, even hostile, when they realise that only four versions dominate even the public arena; and they are often not able to understand that their preferred version many not figure high in the market! Be that as it may, I offer the above data for consideration and discussion.

    Two final points – concerning NLT and CSB. NLT may well be overtaking NIV. NLT figures slowly increased to 9 for both 2019 and 2020, then went to 12 for 2021, and have increased to 14 for 2022. It does seem that the NLT may be displacing the NIV. CSB was hovering between 2 and three to 2019 inclusive, then went to 5 for 2020, then increased to 8 for 2021, and has again increased to 10 for 2022; and it too may be displacing NIV.

    Thank you for the opportunity to comment.

    Kind Regards,


  • I read through the entire CSB-2020 over the course of a couple of years. Comparing it with other translations, it’s very well-balanced. It’s not the best at anything, but it’s pretty good at everything.

  • Jesse Stevens says on

    I always tell people if they want to read the BEST version, read the Hebrew and Greek version. And they can’t, they should read the Hebrew and Greek transliteration Bibles. That said, I am a pastor, and we have the NIV ’84 in our pews, so I teach out of that Bible. I also use the YouVersion Bible app a lot, which allows me the opportunity to compare many Bible translations written in English. As a pastor, I do know we will eventually have to get new Bibles for our pews so I am continually pondering over which version to buy. I do know that ESV is a good one, as well as NASB. But I also want our people to be able to read and understand what they are reading. One version I have come to like, beside NET and NLT, is the Easy-to-Read Version (ERV). I like this because I feel that is does stay true to the the original – as I compare it to ESV and NASB and Interlinear – but is also written in an easy to understand English language. I also like it for adults too, as it is not written for a “child” like ICB or NIrV.

    • Jesse Stevens says on

      I meant “interlinear” instead of “transliteration” Bible in the second sentence.

  • Larry Webb says on

    I have always been a KJV guy. I was saved and that is what the church used. I stuck with it, and memorized verses with it. When I started listening to church answers, I heard about this NLT and also my wife has for many years used it. I decided that it was time to make a change. I wanted to understand what I was reading. Since this change I have not regretted it. I still use my KJV but not as much.

  • Corey Beatty says on

    I have read and preferred the NIV for over thirty years. I have pastored for thirteen years and most often use the NIV on Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights. I can tell you frankly, though, that the 2011 version has deeply fallen out of favor with many folks. There is a perception that the more gender-inclusive language and the omission of several verses of the Bible have undermined the trustworthiness of the NIV. I have no problem with either change because I trust the NIV translators’ assertion that the gender inclusiveness is to better reflect current language (as we do not refer to a collection of people as “men” much any more), and that the exclusion of certain verses to footnotes or italics is because ancient texts simply do not include them. Both of these issues also occur with the other newer translations, but for some reason the NIV is the scapegoat. I still prefer the language of the NIV over the ESV, NLT, NASB, CSB, or any other, but am fighting an uphill battle with some in my flock. These days I usually spread out 9-10 translations on my desk and study the word usage of all of them and look for trends and differences. I now have a small handful of members who bring multiple Bibles to Wednesday night Bible study. That brings me joy for sure.

    • Thom Rainer says on

      I also used the NIV for many years before moving to the CSB. I have been using the NLT for three years now. It has been a blessing.

  • Sandy Patterson says on

    Surprised not to see The Passion Translation in the list.

  • What do you expect from lost people, the want alternatives.

  • John Britttain says on

    Thank you, Thom. Always helpful research and info.

    John in Missouri

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