On October 1, Hazelden, the national nonprofit addiction treatment center, will publish The Book That Started It All: The Original Working Manuscript of Alcoholics Anonymous. The book reveals never-before-seen handwritten edits and comments from the 1939 book on recovery from addiction. The book’s original manuscript fetched $1.56 million in a 2004 auction at Sotheby’s; with this new publication, it will be available to anyone for $65.
Hazelden has been publishing books for more than 60 years, including various editions of The Book That Started It All. Various editions of The Book have sold more than 27 million copies in the U.S. and Canada, and it has been translated into 50 languages. Anyone going through AA is familiar with the title, which offers advice and reassurance for those seeking to recover from alcoholism and other addictions.
Nick Motu, senior v-p and COO of Hazelden, said the company once had an archive imprint, but that it has been dormant for about 10 years. The publication of The Book is, in a way, resurrecting that genre for Hazelden. Motu called the book “a wonderful memento for history buffs…. Hazelden’s decision to publish this important manuscript is rooted in our belief that principles within the Twelve Steps are core to helping those that suffer from addiction to experience lifelong recovery.”
The book’s current owner, who bought the manuscript at auction, offered it to Hazelden. The new version—available as a $65 four-color hardcover and a $125 leather-bound edition—includes high-resolution scans of the 161-page manuscript. It was written by AA’s co-founder Bill Wilson, with contributions from many of the original 100 AA members. Revisions are visible in black, green, and red pencil, and reveal how several newly-recovering alcoholics discussed how to share their message with other alcoholics and their families.
Hazelden is banking on a fair amount of interest in the published manuscript from the mental health community. Its first printing of the $65 hardcover is 5,000 copies, and it is printing 1,000 copies of the $125 leather-bound collector's edition.