Today, December 19th was the publication date for A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. Anyone who hasn’t read the story, or seen the movie (there are at least six versions.) should go to Gutenberg and get a copy. It’s in the Public Domain.
Dickens was unhappy with the amount it earned him. Dickens declined a lump-sum payment for the tale, chose a percentage of the profits in hopes of making more money thereby, and published the work at his own expense. (Tell that to people who look down at self-published books.)
The first run of 6,000 copies sold out by Christmas Eve and the book continued to sell well into the new year. That was at a price of five shillings, a considerable sum.
In 1844 Parley’s Illuminated Library printed a pirated edition. Dickens sued and won his case. However, the book thieves declared bankruptcy and never paid.
Dickens, ever a man who knew the value of publicity and money, began to give readings of the tale in 1853. His last reading was in March 1870, three months before he died.
To see some of my short stories go to www.edwardmcdermott.net