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Alcoholics Anonymous’ Big Book Collection up for Auction

In the City of Angels, there’s going to be a book auction—and you’re going to be paying attention.


The books

Image Via AP News


Got some serious cash on your hands? You could pay off your student loans… or you could buy nineteen first-edition copies of an integral work for a nationwide organization. Nineteen copies of the founding document of Alcoholics Anonymous, known as the “Big Book,” will be auctioned off this July 19th in Los Angeles.


Alcoholics Anonymous

Image Via Vox

Let’s review some history: The Big Book is actually titled Alcoholics Anonymous: The Story of How Many Thousands of Men and Women Have Recovered from Alcoholism, but the work got its nickname due to the thickness of the paper used in the first edition. (And also possibly due to the massive title?)

So, yes, the 19 first edition copies going up for auction will, in fact, be big books.


William Wilson

Image Via The Christian Century


Published in 1939, the book was written by William Wilson, who details how to recover from alcoholism in in only twelve steps. You might have heard of this ‘twelve-step method’ (in case you haven’t, we’re grateful the rock you’ve been living under didn’t crush you), and this ‘Big Book’ is the reason for that.

With 30 million copies sold, this founding text ranks as one of the best-selling books of all time. In 2011, Time magazine placed the book on its list of the 100 best and most influential books written in English since 1923, and the Library of Congress named it one of 88 “Books that Shaped America”.



Between 1923 and the present day, Ken Roberts collected all of these Big Books! We saw a glimpse of his collection last year when AP News shared the story of “the original working manuscript for the Big Book” that “sold for $2.4 million to Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay.”

Still, it was a huge surprise when this announcement was made over Instagram:



The books are signed by all twelve founding members of AA, and Fox 8 Cleveland reports that “the auction house Profiles in History said Tuesday that the collection will be part of a single lot that includes a 1940 stock certificate used at the time to raise funds to continue printing the Big Book.”

Reportedly, this first-edition collection is estimated to sell for “up to $500,000 when it hits the block July 11.”

Anyone going to be in LA around then? And anyone have any extra cash lying around the house? Asking for a friend.



Featured Image Via True Recovery.

Front and Back cover image of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

First Edition Harry Potter Book Sells for Nearly $100k

First edition books have become prized possessions to bibliophiles around the world. The more expensive ones like The Canterbury Tales or the Gutenberg Bible have sold upwards of $4 million, while others like The Catcher in the Rye and Pride and Prejudice have sold in the thousands. Joining this list of prized first editions is Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, which recently sold for just under $100,000.


Front and Back cover image of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone


J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, has found herself on the list of top ten most expensive books before with her Tales of Beedle the Bard. This book is a collection of children’s stories from the Wizarding World first featured in Harry Potter and the Deathly HallowsTales was one of just seven, hand written copies and sold for over $3 million. While the other six went to friends and editors, this one was auctioned off in order to raise money for Rowling’s Lumos Foundation.



Opening page of Tales of Beedle the Bard

Image via


Harry Potter became an instant sensation, going on to sell over 500 million books worldwide in eighty different languages. So what makes this one book so special? The same that makes any first edition special: spelling errors and the limited number of books. This book is one of just 500 copies, according to Bonham’s Auction House. Their site also lists out the following errors:

Publisher’s imprint page with the number sequence from 10 to 1, and author cited as ‘Joanne Rowling’, p.53 with the duplication of “1 wand” on the equipment list, misspelling “Philospher’s” on lower cover, J.K. Rowling’s signature on a sticker loosely inserted (see footnote), publisher’s pictorial boards, small crease to lower fore-corner of upper cover, very thin vertical scratch to lower cover

The listing typo in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

Image Via mugglenet

A similar edition was sold for just over $68,000, but this one book in particular was even more special. The book previously belonged to Christopher Little, J.K. Rowling’s first agent, and it contains a personalized note to him in the pages. The book was originally thought to sell between $52,000 and $75,000, according to the Independent, but a bidding war sent the price way past expectations to $90,074.

featured image via leonard shoup books