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In 16th and 17th century England Pilgrim's Progress (1678) and abridged versions of Foxe's Book of Martyrs were the most broadly read books.

Robinson Crusoe (1719) and The Adventures of Roderick Random (1748) were early eighteenth century short novels with very large publication numbers, as well as gaining international success..

An author may also be referred to as a bestseller if their work often appears in this category. Most of these lists track book sales from national and independent bookstores, as well as sales from major internet retailers such as and Barnes & Noble.

In everyday use, the term bestseller is not usually associated with a specified level of sales, and may be used very loosely indeed in publishers' publicity.

Likewise, fellow French Enlightenment author Rousseau, especially his Julie, ou la nouvelle Héloïse (1761) and of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's novel, Die Leiden des jungen Werther (The Sorrows of Young Werther) (1774).

As with some modern bestsellers, Werther spawned what today would be called a spin-off industry with items such as Werther eau de cologne and porcelain puppets depicting the main characters, being sold in large numbers.

By the time of Byron and Sir Walter Scott, effective copyright laws existed, at least in England, and many authors depended heavily on their income from their large royalties.

Typically, a hardcover edition appears first, followed in months or years by the much less expensive paperback version.

Very short works such as Ars moriendi, the Biblia pauperum, and versions of the Apocalypse were published as cheap block-books in large numbers of different editions in several languages in the fifteenth century.

These were probably affordable items for most of the minority of literate members of the population.

Books of superior academic value or literary merit tend not to be bestsellers, although there are exceptions.

Lists simply give the highest-selling titles in the category over the stated period.

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