The 1920 Edition of the Book of Mormon: A Centennial Adventure in Latter-day Saint Book History


by Richard L. Saunders

Available January 25, 2022 in quality smyth sewn hardcover. Preorder today!

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Book Description:

Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints tend to see the Book of Mormon through the lens of personal use, as a single textual and scriptural monolith—the Book of Mormon. That is somewhat natural, since we tend to have at hand and in-use, only the copy or version in our language needed to study it for inspiration. In the process, the point tends to get overlooked that while we may accept the text as inspired, the physical embodiment of that text—the Book of Mormon—is a mortal reality. The Book of Mormon, while it has a “spirit,” also has a mortal “body” (or rather, bodies) existing in space and time. As such, it has a history—and because it comes to us in the form of a book, it also has a book history.

This study is divided into three parts. The first part is a straightforward history of the edition’s editing, production, and manufacturing processes. It examines key points in the reprint history of the book, following important factors in the subsequent impressions of the work across nearly thirty years of re-impressions, corrections, transfers, and one new format. The narrative crowded into chapters one through four together leave Part II to catalogue the bibliographic minutia that is the beating heart of analytic book history and which provides entertainment for true-blooded bibliophiles. The details contained in the production and manufacturing contracts and coupled to the typographical evidence explained in Part III, together resolve once and for all the question of what constitutes the 1920 edition and what does not.

Comprehensive Table of Contents:


Part I An Edition’s History
   Chapter 1 Anticipation
   Chapter 2 Creation
   Chapter 3 Production
   Chapter 4 Replication
Part II An Edition’s Catalogue
   Chapter 5 Description
   Chapter 6 Dated and False-dated Issues
   Chapter 7 Complications
   Chapter 8 Undated Issues
Part III An Edition’s Future
   Chapter 9 Succession
Appendix: The “L.D.S. Missionary Bibles”

About the Author:

Dr. Richard L. Saunders, social historian, academic librarian, and former Dean of Library Services at Southern Utah University, has been a student of print culture and book history for over two decades. Informed by activity as an amateur handset printer and craft bookbinder, his scope of interest includes papermaking, typography, printing, and both historical and descriptive bibliography. Dr. Saunders worked professionally on the production side of commercial publishing in the 1990s during the industry’s transition from filmsetting to direct-to-plate technology. His professional output includes Printing in Deseret: Mormons, Politics, Economics, and Utah’s Incunabula, 1849–1851 (Univ. of Utah Press, 2000), and Reams in the Desert: Papermaking in Utah, 1849–1893 (Legacy Press, 2021).

More Information:

291 pages
ISBN: 978-1-58958-775-5 (hardcover)

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