The English-language edition of Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari (Vintage) has sold one million copies worldwide, the publisher has revealed.
First published in September 2014, the book – which tells the story of how humans went from having the same significance as jellyfish 70,000 years ago to becoming rulers of the planet – has now been published in 46 countries and in 45 languages.
In the UK, Sapiens has sold 333,173 copies across all editions, according to Nielsen Bookscan. The book received a 23% bump in volume week-on-week after it was mentioned on ITV's "Love Island".
Sapiens was recently revealed by Amazon to be its fifth bestselling print title for the first sixth months of 2017. Meanwhile, due to the success of the title Harari has placed 15th on Nielsen's 2017 author chart.
Harari’s follow-up book, Homo Deus (Vintage) – published in hardback in September 2016 and in paperback in March 2017 – has also been a "huge international bestseller", said the publisher. It has sold 111,803 copies in the UK according to Nielsen Bookscan. Homo Deus has now been a Sunday Times top five bestselling non-fiction paperback since publication 18 weeks ago, the publisher said.
On reaching the million copy milestone, Harari said: "As a historian, I've always known how exciting history can be, and I am glad I could help many other people experience it. It is wonderful to see how Sapiens has struck a chord with people from so many different countries. Perhaps its success is because we now live in a global world, and all humankind faces a set of collective problems – so people all over the world are interested in our collective story as a species."
Harari’s editor, Michal Shavit, publishing director at Jonathan Cape, praised Harari's skill of taking a "huge subject" and making it "breaktakingly page-turning and accessible". Shavit said: "As a publisher, you dream of finding those books that will capture the imagination of as many people as possible. I knew that Sapiens was one of those books from the moment I read the first page. [Harari's] broad fan base is testament to his gift as a storyteller, a gift that has made Sapiens, Homo Deus and Harari himself, a global phenomenon."
Clement Knox, non-fiction buyer at Waterstones, added: "In reaching this milestone Yuval Noah Harari puts himself in the same league as global publishing phenomena such as Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow (Penguin), Susan Cain’s Quiet (Crown Publishing Group), and Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink (Penguin). The scope and ambition of Yuval’s books also recall the work of Jared Diamond, another multimillion, genre-busting bestseller. Yuval’s astonishing success demonstrates the enduring appeal of serious, well-written, and well-published works of non-fiction. We at Waterstones look forward to reading and selling his future books."