2 words: Newspaper Serial. Back in the day, the main way for people to read well-known books was through newspapers serials. Most of Dickens’ books were read this way as was Moby Dick. And to sell more newspapers, Melville padded the novel to include all kinds of things that normally would have been left out of an unserialized book - for example the step-by-step instructions on how to cut up a whale.
Exactly. Channels of distribution matter for what is a consumer product.
Where do you get this? I never heard of it, and I don't see it on a quick check, which indicates it was introduced as a completed book.
Melville’s “Moby Dick” is the first purely American novel.
Don't think so. Melville had some notoriety from previous books, but was not a widely acclaimed author with a vast following as Dickens was. I can find no evidence it was serialized prior to publication in book form.
It was first published by Richard Bentley in London on October 18, 1851, in an expurgated three-volume edition titled The Whale, and weeks later as a single volume, by New York City publisher Harper and Brothers as Moby-Dick; or, The Whale on November 14, 1851. The book initially received mixed reviews, but Moby-Dick is now considered part of the Western canon, and at the center of the canon of American novels.