A printer in Cornwall, NY, named Edward Blackwell, had been highly
recommended to Bill Wilson. Blackwell was the President of
Cornwall Press. Bill and Hank Parkhurst (The Unbeliever in the
first edition) went to Cornwall to see Blackwell. There they
were told that the book would probably be only about four hundred
pages when printed. That seemed a bit skimpy.
They wanted to sell the book for $3.50 per copy. That was a
very large sum in those days, probably the equivalent of about $50
today, and people might not think they were getting their money's
They picked the cheapest, thickest paper the printer had, and
requested that each page be printed with unusually large margins
surrounding the text. This made for an unusually large book.
Thus, the book came to be nicknamed the "Big Book."
Blackwell had an excess of red material for the bindings, so he
offered them a special deal. Eager to save costs, Bill and Hank
agreed. They also thought, according to some reports, that the
color red would make the book more attractive and marketable.
The first printing was the only one on which a red binding was used.
All the other printings of the first edition, except for the
fourth printing, were in various shades of blue. The fourth
printing, due to another overstock of binding material and thus, lower
cost, was bound in blue as well as in green.
Despite all their efforts at proofreading, there was a typographical
error in the first printing. On page 234, the second and third
line from the bottom was printed twice. This was corrected in
A New York AA member named Ray Campbell, a recognized artist, was
asked to design the dust jacket. His story, An Artist's Concept,
appears in the first edition. He submitted various designs for
consideration including one which was blue and in an Art Deco style.
The one which was chosen was red, and yellow, with a little
black, and a little white. The words Alcoholics Anonymous were
printed across the top in large white script. It became known as
the circus jacket because of its loud circus colors. The unused
blue jacket is today in the Archives at the Stepping Stones
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