William Schaberg graduated from Fairfield University in 1966 with a degree in history. He began his
business career in the local family business and ended it 39 years later as the Vice-President of
Corporate Development and Communications for the American Reprographics Company.
Today, he is the proprietor of Athena Rare Books, a firm specializing in first edition copies of works
important to the history of ideas. Always attracted to philosophy, Schaberg began collecting first edition copies of the German
philosopher Nietzsche’s works in 1984 – a passion which quickly spread to other philosophical writers.
There was confusion over what actually qualified as a Nietzsche “first” edition because his three
publishers all went bankrupt. To sort out that confusion, William began doing research at Yale University
and at libraries and archives in the USA and in Europe.
The result of these efforts was the 1995 publication of his first book, The Nietzsche Canon: A Publication
History and Bibliography, by University of Chicago Press. The philosophical community was so
impressed with the scholarly contributions made in that work that it was translated and published in
German by Schwabe & Co. in 2002.
Schaberg had acquired Jim Burwell’s copy of the Multilith printing of Alcoholics Anonymous and, in 2007,
he began doing research in several A.A. archives to determine exactly how many of those offset copies
had been printed in early 1939. While the actual printer’s invoice proved to be elusive, other
contemporary documents caught his attention, providing solid evidence that many of the revered
stories told about A.A.’s early years were just not accurate.
The result of William’s 11 years of research and 7 years of thoughtful evaluation and writing can be
found in Writing the Big Book: The Creation of A.A., a scholarly work that challenges many of A.A.’s
creation myths and, for the first time, tells the month-by-month story of what actually happened
between October 1937 (when the idea of a book was first proposed) and April 10, 1939 (the day it was