The Tipping Point
America’s first bestseller
Thomas Paine published Common Sense in January of 1776. It pushed a lot of American colonists to seek independence from England instead of some kind of settlement that would allow them to remain subjects. There were around 2.5 million people in the colonies then. 100,000 of them bought the pamphlet. That’s a huge bestseller. (It may be the all-time bestseller when you consider the small population then.) More than that no doubt read a friend’s copy.
Paine didn't care to profit from it:
‘As my wish was to serve an oppressed people, and assist in a just and good cause, I conceived that the honor of it would be promoted by my declining to make even the usual profits of an author.’