The best book series create new, imaginative worlds that readers can immerse themselves in, and follow characters for years at a time that they can relate to and grow to love.
In compiling this list, reliable figures were unavailable for some of the older series and they have not been included. Also, just give “The Hunger Games” a few more years – it’s only been five years since its release and it has already sold more than 50 million. Yeesh!
The following series each sold well over 100 million copies worldwide, and created millions of fans across the globe. Take a look at some of the best-selling book series of all time.
Sources: Wikipedia.org, University of Missouri, The Internet Public Library, HuffingtonPost.com
San-Antonio is the name of the book series as well as the pseudonym of its author, Frédéric Dard. The San-Antonio series follows the crime-solving adventures of Detective Superintendent Antione San-Antonio. A member of the French Secret Service, San-Antonio embarks on dangerous and impossible missions and has become one of the most ubiquitous literary crime fighters in history.
Written by Rev. Wilbert Awdry (and continued by his son, Christopher Awdry), the 42 novels of “The Railway Series” are set on the fictional Island of Sodor, but track real-life events. The series follows a cast of characters modeled after real classes of locomotives, and are the product of Awdry’s enthusiasm about the railroad industry. The series spawned the popular kids’ TV show, “Thomas and Friends.”
Carolyn Keene’s famed amateur detective became an icon in the literary world — and a role model for girls everywhere — as one of the first famous female heroines in the crime-solving game. The teenage character spends her time solving mysteries, whether the adults in her life want her to or not. Nancy Drew has been recreated in countless films, TV series, and dozens of novels.
Carolyn Keene is the collective pseudonym for a number of ghost writers who have have written Nancy Drew novels over the years.
Created by Enid Blyton, an English children’s author, “Noddy” follows the title character, a little wooden boy living in the fictional Toyland. The early versions of “Noddy” books have become collectibles, and the approximately 25 novels have been translated into TV incarnations for decades.
Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield are the stars of “Sweet Valley High,” and novels track the identical twins’ lives as they grow up in Sweet Valley, California. Author Francine Pascal (who later presided over numerous ghostwriters also writing for the series) produced more than 150 novels. They’re considered to be young-adult novels in the soap opera/romance/fantasy genre.
For those who like more interaction, the “Choose Your Own Adventure” novels put readers in the role of protagonist, and allows them to direct the plot and determine the outcome of each book. The concept, created by Edward Packard and written by dozens of ghost writers, is now referred to as “gamebooks,” and provides for as many as 40 outcomes in a single book.
The “Berenstain Bears” series was created in 1962, but novels, TV shows, and more continue to follow the adventures of Papa, Mama, Brother, Sister, and Honey Bear. The series, geared towards small children, offers moral lessons (some more subtle than others), and has been translated in 23 different languages, accounting for its international popularity.
The “Perry Mason” series, written by Erie Stanley Gardner, consists of more than 80 books and short stories. It follows defense attorney Perry Mason as he works to prove his clients’ innocence, often finding the criminals responsible for the crimes instead. The book series also sparked a popular radio series, and has been featured in film and TV as well.
The niche genre of children’s horror fiction is almost synonymous with R.L. Stine’s “Goosebumps” series, and readers delighted for years while following the books’ child characters as they navigated scary situations. The books also manage to be funny (ostensibly to avoid nightmares), and avoid seriously dangerous situations such as drugs, violence, or general depravity.
No surprisingly, J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” series exceeds all other book series by far, selling more than 450 million copies of the seven novels. Harry, Ron and Hermione help save the wizarding world from the evil Voldemort, all while attending Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and dealing with growing up. The seven books (not to mention the eight corresponding feature films) have garnered hundreds of millions of fans, and will continue to enchant children and adults alike for years to come.