In His Steps
by Charles M. Sheldon
The story “In His Steps” was written in 1896, and it was read a chapter at a time to my young people, Sunday evenings in the Central Congregational Church, Topeka, Kansas. While it was being read it was being published in the Chicago Advance, a religious weekly, as a serial. The publisher did not know the conditions of the copyright law, and he filed only one copy of the advance each week with the department, instead of two, which the law required. On that account the copyright was defective, and the story was thrown into the “public domain” when the Advance Company put it out in a ten cent paper edition. Owing to the fact that no one had any legal ownership in the book, sixteen different publishers in America and fifty in Europe and Australia put out the book in various editions from an English penny to eight shillings. Mr. Bowden, the London publisher, sold over 3,000,000 copies of the penny edition on the streets of London. The book has been translated into twenty-one languages, including a Russian publication which was banned by the Soviet. A Turkish Translation in Arabic is permitted circulation by the government and is being read all over Turkey.
The Story has been made into the drama form and is being used by groups of young church people and by college students. And while conditions have changed in the years since the story was written, the principle of human conduct remains the same. I do not need to say that I am very thankful that owing to the defective copyright the book has had a larger reading on account of the great number of publishers. I find readers in every part of the world where I go. And I am informed by the Publishers’ Weekly that the book has had more circulation than any other book except the Bible. If that is true, no one is more grateful than I am, as it confirms the faith I have always held that no subject is more interesting and vital to the human race than religion.
May I be allowed to add a word of appreciation for the courtesy of the publishers of this authorized edition who through these years recognized the moral rights of the author and have kindly permitted him a share in the financial sales of the book. I hope for this edition a hearty and kindly welcome from the readers, old and young, who believe that in the end of human history Jesus will be the standard of human conduct for the entire human race.
Charles M. Sheldon
Topeka, Kansas, 1935