Printing the Book of Mormon

“Printing the Book of Mormon,” Liahona, February 2021

Printing the Book of Mormon

Liahona Magazine, 2021/02 Feb

After Joseph Smith was turned down by three other publishers, Egbert Grandin in Palmyra, New York, agreed to print the Book of Mormon. Its printing was a great endeavor, more than double the size of other printing jobs at the time.

Two manuscripts:

  • Original Manuscript: Written by at least three scribes as Joseph Smith translated and dictated.

  • Printer’s Manuscript: A copy of the original was made by Oliver Cowdery and two other scribes.

  • Typesetting: John Gilbert, compositor for the Book of Mormon, added paragraphs, capitalization, punctuation, and spelling corrections.

  • Length of first edition: 590 pages.

  • The first edition was made by hand.

  • Printing speed: four sheets on one side per minute. 185,000 sheets to print 5,000 copies of the book.

  • The busy printing staff worked 11 hours a day, six days a week.

  • Printing time: seven months.

  • Average print run for a book in the United States in the 1820s: roughly 2,000 copies.

  • First edition of the Book of Mormon: 5,000 copies.

  • 1981: the Church had printed an estimated 27,249,000 copies of the Book of Mormon.

  • 2011: the Church had printed over 150,000,000 copies of the Book of Mormon in 110 languages.