On March 26th, 1830, following a reprint of the text from the title page of the Book of Mormon, this announcement appeared in the Wayne Sentinel:
The above work, containing about 600 pages, large Duodecimo, is now for sale, wholesale and retail, at the Palmyra Bookstore, by HOWARD & GRANDIN.
The initial printing totaled 5,000 copies. Not much is known about the sale of the books, but according to one formal statement made by a contemporary of Joseph Smith,
“After the Book was published, I frequently bantered with him for a copy. He asked fourteen shillings a piece for them; I told him I would not give so much; he told me had had a revelation that they must be sold at that price. Sometime afterwards I talked with Martin Harris about buying one of the Books and he told me they had had a new revelation, that they might be sold at ten shillings a piece.” (Sworn affidavit of Henry Harris, quoted in E.D. Howe, Mormonism Unvailed, 252)
Today, nearly 170 years after the first Books of Mormon went on sale, over 140 million copies have been distributed. It is currently for sale in U.S. bookstores with a cover price of $24.95.
A few statements by LDS leaders demonstrate that the Book of Mormon is very important to Mormonism.
“Take away the Book of Mormon and the revelations, and where is our religion? We have none.” (Joseph Smith, History of the Church 2:52)
“There will be more people saved in the kingdom of God–ten thousand times over–because of the Book of Mormon than there will be because of the Bible.” (President Ezra Taft Benson quoting Apostle Bruce McConkie, “A New Witness for Christ,” Ensign (Conference Edition), November, 1984, 7)
“All scripture is not of equal value. The book that is the ‘keystone of our religion’ and that will get a man ‘nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book’ [i.e., The Book of Mormon] needs to be studied con¬stantly.” (President Ezra Taft Benson, A Witness and a Warning, vii)
“The fact is, we do not depend on the Bible or on traditional biblical interpretations for our theology. We do not know that the Book of Mormon is true or accurate from what we might find in the Bible. It is the other way around: the Book of Mormon has been given to prove the essential truthfulness of the Bible (D&C 20:11; see also 1 Nephi 13:39–40; Mormon 7:9).” (BYU Profes¬sor Robert L. Millet, Review of Books on the Book of Mormon 6:1, 1994, 198)
A very sobering statement for Latter-day Saints comes from early LDS Apostle Orson Pratt:
“This book must be either true or false. If true, it is one of the most important messages ever sent from God to man, affecting both the temporal and eternal interests of every people under heaven to the same extent and in the same degree that the message of Noah affected the inhabitants of the old world. If false, it is one of the most cunning, wicked, bold, deep-laid impositions ever palmed upon the world, calculated to deceive and ruin millions who will sincerely receive it as the word of God, and will suppose themselves securely built upon the rock of truth until they are plunged with their families into hopeless despair. The nature of the message in the Book of Mormon is such, that if true, no one can possibly be saved and reject it; if false, no one can possibly be saved and re¬ceive it.” (Orson Pratt, Divine Authenticity of the Book of Mormon, 1:1, Liverpool, October 15, 1850)
“You must understand that there is only one door to salvation, and that is Christ; there is one way, and that is Christ; one truth, and that is Christ; one life, and that is Christ. Salvation lies in Jesus only…” (read more)