A friend recently asked me why the Book of Mormon is free and why there is no compensation collected for handing it out. I could not answer her. Would you share some insights? Was the Book of Mormon ever NOT free? Thank you for your time!
When the Book of Mormon was first published, Joseph Smith asked for 5000 copies. Today that’s barely enough to get a publication noticed, but in that day it was a very large order. It seems, from that number alone, that Joseph understood that the message of the Book of Mormon was supposed to be shared with the world.
During those years missionaries gave the copies out for a small price to cover the cost of publication. Publishing books in that day was an expensive and time consuming process. The first publication required a mortgaged farm!
Today, publication is faster and far less expensive, though it isn’t done for free. The LDS Church maintains a separate fund to pay for the copies we hand out. Members are encouraged to donate to it along with their tithing and fast offerings. In this way, the books are paid for already.
The reason we give out the Book of Mormon is plain to see, we wish to share further testimony of Christ with the world. The reason we give it out for free is because first of all, we can. The Church is now large enough, and has been for some time, that the membership can support the printing costs through donations. Second, it’s really how it ought to be done, don’t you think?