Calculating book sales is complicated.

It wasn’t until the mid-1900s that developing a standardized way to track book sales became a priority in the United States. Databases like Nielsen BookScan are the closest to a full representation of book sales we have, “but even that claims to represent only 75% of all retail sales,” per the UCLA library.

This list is based off publicly available information and acts as a rough guide on which books have been printed and sold the most since initial publication.

The 10 most-sold individual books

1. The Bible — 5 to 7 billion

Words Rated predicts there are currently 6 billion copies of the Bible in circulation. The site says that 6.4 Bibles are sold every 10 seconds.

The Guinness Book of World Records highlights a 2021 study by the British and Foreign Bible Society that offered a similar figure. It suggests the total number of Bibles printed is most likely between 5 and 7 billion copies.

2. ‘Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-Tung’ — 900 million

This book was written in 1946 by the People’s Liberation Army and contains 267 aphorisms from Mao Zedong, according to the BBC. A professor of modern Chinese history at the University of Freiburg, Daniel Leese, said owning this book “became a way of surviving” for the Chinese when government officials would test people on if they had the aphorisms memorized.

In an article for Medium, John Welford, editor of “The World’s Great Art,” said over 900 million copies of this book have been published worldwide. The BBC added that the Chinese Communist Party had hundreds of printing houses built to produce enough books for the public.

3. The Quran — at least 800 million

At least 800 million copies of the Quran have been sold worldwide since it was compiled, Words Rated reported. However, the site added that this number could be as high as 3 billion copies.

4. ‘Xinhua Zidian’ — 567 million

The “Xinhua Zidian” was published in 1953 and is the most popular Chinese dictionary.

Purple Culture Net explains that, “This popular little Chinese dictionary is a must-have for native Chinese speakers and non-native speakers who have learned Chinese. The dictionary is helpful to learn additional words, definitions and combinations of new words to improve language ability.”

Though the number of copies of the book has grown since 2015 when it was last reported, The Commercial Press said 567 million copies of “Xinhua Zidian” had been sold worldwide at that point, per the Guinness Book of World Records.

5. ‘Don Quixote’ — at least 500 million

Published in 1605 by Miguel de Cervantes, “Don Quixote” is “the first modern novel,” according to History.com. It follows an old Spanish man who reads so many romances that he goes insane. He sets out on his own quest, conquering flocks of sheep and attacking windmills.

In 2019, Victoria News reported that Don Quixote had sold over 500 million copies and is the most sold novel of all time.

6. ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ — at least 200 million

Charles Dickens published “A Tale of Two Cities” in 1859. The story follows French aristocrat Charles Darnay, who is living in England during the French Revolution when he falls in love with Lucie Manette, the daughter of an imprisoned shoemaker. The English lawyer Sydney Carton is also in love with Manette, and the story revolves around the ideas of sacrifice and redemption.

In 2010, The Daily Telegraph reported that more than 200 million copies of the book had been sold.

7. The Book of Mormon — 192 million

A member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Quorum of the Twelve Apostles announced during the October 2020 General Conference that “192 million copies of all or part of the Book of Mormon have been published in 112 languages.”

8. ‘The Little Prince’ — 145 million

The Children’s Book Review calls this French book an “honest and beautiful story about loneliness, friendship, sadness, and love.” The article describes the plot, “The prince is a small boy from a tiny planet (an asteroid to be precise), who travels the universe, planet-to-planet, seeking wisdom. On his journey, he discovers the unpredictable nature of adults. ‘All grown-ups were once children … but only a few of them remember it.’”

Lerner Books reported that this novella “has sold more than 145 million copies worldwide and has been translated into 253 languages.”

9. ‘Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone’ — 120 million

In J.K. Rowling’s first book in her seven-book “Harry Potter” series, Harry Potter discovers he’s part of a magical world of witches and wizards. He leaves his cruel relatives, the Dursleys, and attends Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, where he meets Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger. Harry learns about his past when confronted by Voldemort.

Worldwide, “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” has sold 120 million copies, according to Words Rated. 

10. ‘The Hobbit’ — 100 million

Bilbo Baggins is the central character in J.R.R. Tolkien’s novel, “The Hobbit.” He’s part of a fictional race living a quiet life in a world among elves, goblins and trolls. When Gandalf the wizard arrives in the Shire, Bilbo reluctantly joins the quest to reclaim the dwarves’ homeland from a dragon.

As of 2021, J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit” had sold 100 million copies, according to Words Rated.