Who remembers the release of the new edition of the scriptures in 1979 and 1981? I do. This announcement of the 1921 re-issue of the Book of Mormon resonated with my own memories of a new edition.
It has ever been the desire of readers of the Book of Mormon, especially of its devoted readers and students, to see it improved typographically, and in general and mechanical makeup. Several efforts have been made to issue it in better form. Some of these were successful, others apparently were not fortunate. The first edition, printed at Palmyra, in 1830, was in large type on very good paper and made a well proportioned and very presentable volume, superior to several editions that have followed it, both in America and Europe, which were made to reduce the size of the book when bound, and also its cost, so that a wider sale and distribution of it could be effected.
In 1870, fifty years after the first edition, the volume was overhauled by apostle Orson Pratt, who divided the long paragraphs into chapters and verses, and provided its pages with copious references and footnotes. Electrotype plates were made, from which many editions were printed. The type, however, was small though of a good face, and this form, with slight changes, as new editions (some extremely cheap and unattractive) were called for, has prevailed, with perhaps a single exception, until the present time. The exception was a limited edition issued by the Juvenile Instructor office, in the year 1889. This was printed in very large type on fine paper, making a handsome volume to correspond with the moderate size Bibles generally used in public. It was necessarily expensive, and of restricted circulation.
It is a pleasure to note that progress towards the realization of our hope, for a helpful and attractive volume is being made, and we now have an edition that has taken a long step in this direction. The following official announcement of its issue explains the remarkable improvements that have been added, and commends it to the people. It is understood that a missionary edition is under way that will follow the present library edition, bringing the new volume in reach of all at low prices. [Millennial Star, 3 February 1921.]
We are pleased to announce a new issue of the Book of Mormon. From the time of its first publication, in 1830, to the present, the demand for this volume of Scripture has been constantly increasing.
So many imprints have been taken from the several sets of old plates that all of these have become defectively worn, and the preparation of a new set of electrotypes was deemed imperative.
The necessary re-setting of type afforded an opportunity of making several improvements in book-making details. Among these improvements the following are worthy of special mention:
1. Instead of the small type heretofore used, the text of the new issue is printed from 8-point Bible-type, which produces a large bold-faced letter, particularly clear and easy to read.
2. The text is set in two columns to the page, Bible style, thus presenting short lines, which are easily followed, instead of the long lines of full-page width hitherto used.
3. Each chapter is preceded by a concise heading, embodying its principal contents.
4. The designation of book and chapter at the top of each page has been simplified and made much more serviceable than the old style.
5. The foot-note references have been carefully revised, and in some instances, amplified.
6. At the bottom of each page, excepting only the Book of Ether, the chronology of principal events is given, as such a time ‘B.C.’ of ‘A.D.’ The years are distinguished as exact or approximate specifications, according to the information furnished by the Book of Mormon itself.
7. Preceding the text is a ‘Brief Analysis of the Book of Mormon,’ which will greatly assist the reader in comprehending the relations of the several divisions or ‘books’ to each other.
8. Also preceding the text, appears a comprehensive account of the ‘Origin of the Book of Mormon,’ which is couched, almost entirely, in the words of the inspired translator, Joseph Smith, the Prophet.
9. Following the text is a ‘Synopsis of Chapters’ and other helps.
10. A ‘Pronouncing Vocabulary’ gives a simple and consistent pronunciation of practically every proper name, and of some other words, of Book of Mormon origin.
11. What promises to be one of the most helpful features of the new issue is the comprehensive ‘Index,’ comprising sixty-eight columns of reference data, grouped both according to subjects and to important passages. The need of an index to the Book of Mormon has long been yearningly felt and strongly expressed. We doubt not that this addendum to the volume will be greatly appreciated.
The first edition from the new plates is printed on paper of superior quality, and is supplied in a variety of better-class bindings.
We trust the publication of the Book of Mormon in this improved form will result in a more devoted study of this distinctive volume of Holy Scripture, and in a fuller application of its saving precepts and principles in the lives of our people and amongst all who read it.
Heber J. Grant,
Anthon H. Lund,
Charles W. Penrose,
Salt Lake City, Utah. December 24th, 1920.