In June 1935, the spark of AA was born when Bill Wilson shared his experience with alcoholism and recovery with Dr. Bob Smith. Shortly after Bill and Bob met, Bob took his last drink of alcohol and the two men were inspired to spread this message and “save” as many alcoholics as possible. From 1935 to 1938, that work of helping others was largely boots on the ground and face to face interaction with alcoholics. After their small successes, it became apparent that this solution worked and it was time to find a way to get their message out to a wider audience. The thought came… A BOOK!
In 1938, Bill Wilson began writing the Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book, despite less than 100 members. This fellowship still did not yet have a name! This fellowship formed of alcoholics during the Great Depression, needless to say, they were BROKE! Bill was writing this book on faith that the money would arrive at the right time to finance the publication of this book.
The idea came of selling stock certificates to AA members to raise the money to publish the book. These members bought stock in Works Publishing, Inc. The publishing company that was founded by the AA founders which was later renamed AA Publishing and then again changed to AA World Services, Inc.
Enough money was raised to print 4,730 First Edition Big Books that were released in 1939. The success from the sales of the books allowed AA to continue to grow and continue printing more books.
The original stock certificates that were sold were eventually purchased back so that AA could retain complete ownership of the book.