How Well Are the Atheist Books Selling?

Publishers Weekly has an article discussing how books about atheism are in vogue. There’s nothing you haven’t heard before in the article, but I did think it was interesting to see how all these books have been selling. The numbers aren’t exact (they’re lower than the actual amounts), but they give you a good estimate of the relative successes of the various books:

The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins: 282,000 copies sold

The End of Faith by Sam Harris: 250,000 copies sold (says this article)

Letter to a Christian Nation by Sam Harris: 123,000 copies sold

God is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens: 58,000 copies sold

Breaking the Spell by Daniel Dennett: 52,000 copies sold

God: The Failed Hypothesis by Victor Stenger: 60,000 copies shipped

I Sold My Soul on eBay by Hemant Mehta: 99,213,912 copies sold. (Ok, I made that up… But maybe if you bought a couple million copies, I wouldn’t have to do that.)

It’s also interesting to see how the atheist books stack up against recent popular Christian books (though it should be known that the numbers coming from BookScan do not include sales from Christian bookstores, so they are underestimates):

Interestingly, these [atheist] books are leading PW’s most recent hardcover religion bestseller list (published once a month), outranking such books as Joyce Meyer’s The Power of Simple Prayer (FaithWords), which, according to BookScan, has sold 32,000 copies since its April 3 pub; John and Stasi Eldredge’s Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman’s Soul (Thomas Nelson), which has racked up 221,000 sold since April 2005; and Beth Moore’s Get Out of That Pit: Straight Talk About God’s Deliverance (Thomas Nelson), with 40,000 sold since January. And talk about the loss of rapture: perennial Christian bestseller Tim LaHaye’s latest, Kingdom Come: The Final Victory (Left Behind #13), which Tyndale House published on April 3, has sold 46,000 copies to date, according to BookScan, a far cry from LaHaye’s previous numbers.

The article isn’t too long and it’s a good read if you’re interested in the publishing side of religious (and non-religious) books.

(Thanks to Donna for the link)


[tags]atheist, atheism, Publishers Weekly, The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins, The End of Faith, Sam Harris, God is Not Great, Christopher Hitchens, Letter to a Christian Nation, Sam Harris, Breaking the Spell, Daniel Dennett, God: The Failed Hypothesis, Victor Stenger, I Sold My Soul on eBay, Hemant Mehta, Christian, BookScan, Joyce Meyer, The Power of Simple Prayer, John Eldredge, Stasi Eldredge, Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman’s Soul, Beth Moore, Get Out of That Pit: Straight Talk About God’s Deliverance, Tim LaHaye, Kingdom Come: The Final Victory, Left Behind[/tags]

  • TXatheist

    I walked into my local Barnes and Noble and on the current reads display for religion was…..I sold my soul on ebay. Top shelf…eye level….not bad Hemant…not bad :)

  • Ash

    …except it confuses the issue by sticking atheist literature under a religious heading…must be quite a conundrum for the bookshops…

  • http://off-the-map.org/atheist/ Siamang

    Wow, I had no idea that the numbers were so low in publishing. Yikes.

  • Kim G

    Sorry Hemant, I only bought one copy of your book. ;)

  • http://friendlyatheist.com FriendlyAtheist

    Sorry Hemant, I only bought one copy of your book. ;)

    Kim– You’re forgiven :)

    The rest of you, though… I’m watching you!

  • http://off-the-map.org/atheist/ Siamang

    Dude, BOUGHT IT.

    Still waiting for Amazon to deliver it. I think it was your book that held up the rest of my order (Hitchens and Parenting Beyond Belief were in that too).

  • Brendon Lake

    Mmmm, that book with the title ‘God is not great’ clearly an over the top title to sell the thing.

    Dare I say whom I think is going to have the last laugh

  • Brendon Lake

    Oh, and which book has sold more copies than every book on atheism/humanism combined??

  • Sobex

    Let me guess, the one that “everyone” has but that no one has actually read, because they’d actually laugh or recoil in horror at its detailed contents?

  • Joe

    It is a good thing if the people buying these books are open to someone else’s point of view. Too often, we amass books from authors that affirm and strengthen our already held beliefs. If books with provocative titles such as “God is not great” spark conversation and dialog, instead of insults, then it can be nothing but a good thing.

  • Darryl

    I have to assume that the heightened interest right now with these books is partly because of their relative novelty in our predictable and trivial media market, and partly because of a tedium and annoyance with the over-exposed Christian fundamentalists, and a fear of the Muslims.

    A lot of political moderates (those centrists that both parties clamor for) are tired of the “God, Guns, and Gays” wedge issues, the abortion controversy, and the corrupted politics that seem to go with them. Many Americans are annoyed that more talk and attention seems to go to these “values” issues than to the challenges that are most urgent–the war in Iraq, healthcare, immigration reform, jobs, etc.

    The Christian fundamentalists have discredited themselves not only because of their bizarre and uncompromising policy statements, but because of their alignment with an administration that can’t seem to do anything right. They are only now waking up to the fact that they have been used by the Karl Roves of the Republican Party. These books by atheist authors lay bare the ideological underpinnings that account for the failures of the fundamentalists, and they challenge the notion that our form of civil society requires or even benefits from their brand of religion.

  • http://off-the-map.org/atheist/ Siamang

    Oh, and which book has sold more copies than every book on atheism/humanism combined??

    God, if I hear any more hype about the new Harry Potter book I’ll puke.

  • http://duoquartuncia.blogspot.com/ Chris Ho-Stuart

    My copy of “I Sold my Soul” arrived today; and was swiftly whisked away by my father who wanted to read it. He is a retired minister of religion, but still active in preaching for churches where their normal minister is on leave, or where they are currently going through the process of calling a new minister. He was very impressed with it, and thinks it would be a good book to have available in church libraries.

    I should be able to get it back and read it myself now…

    Cheers — and thanks! — Chris

  • Pingback: Friendly Atheist » Who Hires These People?

  • doug

    The god delusion has sold 8.5 million and god is not great has sold 130,000 in the UK alone, you need to get your facts straight my friend.


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