The inaugural volume of Joseph Smith Papers has been out only two weeks and is virtually sold out now as the demand has far exceeded expectations.
"The demand has been incredible for this important project," said Boyd Ware, Deseret Book vice president of publishing. "We're printing books as fast as possible; however, due to the high quality of the materials and the custom-milled paper necessary for archival purposes, it takes more time. This book truly is a keepsake."
A sampling of bookstores contacted Monday revealed that all of Deseret Book's Utah stores (as well as its online site) are now out of the book, as is Seagull Book.
"Everyone's out," one store said. The first run was 12,500 copies.
Leigh Dethman, Deseret Book spokeswoman, said the only hope of finding a book now before Christmas is at some of the smaller, independent bookstores.
A Deseret News check of eBay on Monday afternoon showed there were five of the books for sale, ranging from a high of $107.50 down to the $49.95 retail price. And that most expensive offering had 21 bids.
Deseret Book, the book's distributor, has announced two solutions for customers who can't find copies in time for the holidays.
First, Deseret Book tripled its original second printing of 5,500 to 16,500. These second-run books are expected to start arriving in stores before the end of the month, but likely not in time for Christmas.
Second, special gift certificates have been printed and are available now at area stores for customers who preorder books. The gift certificate reserves a copy of the book.
Customers can preorder the book online at deseretbook.com and also print out a simple gift card. The fancier gift card is available at an outlet where the book is sold.
The Joseph Smith Papers, Journals, Volume 1, gives readers a window into the life and personality of the Mormon prophet. Journal writings include doctrinal teachings and revelations as well as accounts of daily encounters and significant spiritual experiences.
Informative annotations, maps, textual photos, reference materials and other tools provide context. Editors present the text just as it was written, preserving the language, grammar and often nonstandard spelling of Smith and his scribes.
The landmark publishing venture, by The Church Historian's Press, follows the highest scholarly standards of documentary editing and has been endorsed by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission, a division of the National Archives.
The book, which went on store shelves Nov. 24, is the first of more than 30 planned volumes.
Funding for the series came in an endowment from local philanthropists Larry and Gail Miller, and top LDS leaders gave their permission to reproduce the materials owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and heretofore only available on a limited basis to researchers.More information on the book is available at josephsmithpapers.org.