** This article is updated regularly. It was last updated in January 2020 **
Book translation pre-dates the printing of books considerably. In fact, the very first book printed in English was a translation. William Caxton, who introduced the printing press to England, printed The Recuyell of the Historyes of Troye in 1473, which he had translated from the French original of Raoul Lefèvre.
The World’s Most Translated Book
Today, the world’s most translated book is The Bible. At least one book of the Bible has been translated into 2,883 languages; the New Testament has been translated into 1,329 languages; and the Old and New Testaments together have been translated into 531 languages.
Other religious books and pamphlets also feature on the list of the world’s most translated publications, thanks to the work of Jehovah’s Witnesses around the globe. Their publication, Listen to God and Live Forever, has been translated into 583 languages in total.
Leaving Religion Aside…
Leaving religion aside, the most translated book in the world is Pinocchio, by Carlo Collodi. The beloved children’s tale of the little wooden boy has been translated into more than 260 languages since it was first published in 1883.
The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint Exupéry, has also fared well, having been translated into 253 languages since its publication in 1943. Lewis Caroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Hans Christian Andersen’s Andersen’s Fairy Tales have also been widely translated.
And for Grown Ups…
When it comes to the top 25 most translated literary works, only one book is neither a religious text nor a children’s tale. Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by French author Jules Verne has been translated into 148 languages since it was first published in serial format in 1869-1870. The adventure tale has struck a chord with readers around the world ever since.
June 2018 Update – Which Books Have Risen up the Ranks in the List of the World’s Most Translated Books?
With new figures now available, we felt it was worth providing a June 2018 update to this article. The Bible remains the world’s most translated book, with at least one book now available in a staggering 3,312 languages. The New Testament is available in 2,191 languages, while the Old and New Testaments together can be read in 670 languages.
For non-religious texts, The Little Prince has now overtaken Pinocchio as the world’s most translated work of fiction. The latest figures reveal that Antoine de Saint Exupéry’s classic work is now available in around 300 languages, while Pinocchio remains at the 260 mark.
January 2020 Update - Is the Bible Still the Most Translated Book in the World?
We check in on this article and update it from time to time to ensure that its contents are still current. And indeed they are! At the time of writing the Bible is the most translated book in the world - still. At least one book of the Bible is available in 3,312 languages. That's approaching half of all the languages on the planet!
The tireless work of the Jehovah's Witnesses has much to do with this impressive record. The religion has stepped up its translation efforts in recent years. You can read more about this, and the reasoning behind it, by clicking the link below.
In terms of children's books, Pinocchio has reclaimed the top spot, making it the second most translated book in the world. With over 300 translations from the original Italian novel, Pinocchio has charmed young listeners (and Disney fans) around the world for generations.
Third in the top five most translated books is The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupéry, at around 300 translations.
In fourth place, we see the Jehovah's Witnesses at work once more. Their work entitled So What Does the Bible Really Teach? has been translated into 272 translations.
The final entrant in the top five world's most translated books is the Dao De Jing. This Chinese tract, also known as the Tao Te Ching, is believed to have been created by the sage Laozi in the 6th century BC. It is a fundamental text for Taoism, in both religious and philosophical terms.
Read more: What Is the World's Most Translated Website?
Which is your favourite translated book? Do you ever read the same book in more than one language? Share your views in the comments section.