Vingt Mille Lieues sous les Mers was first published in French serially in Magasin d'Éducation et de Récréation. Verne had been disappointed with how the text was set and cut for the magazine, and was glad to see the title appear in book form at the end of 1870.
Translation and publication for the English and American markets was also not without problems. In 1871, Samson Low acquired the English rights to several of Verne's books, and recruited Lewis Page Mercier, better known by his pen name Mercier Lewis, to undertake the translation of this first title. Despite Mercier's speed, he cut almost a quarter of Verne's original text and made copious translation errors - including the mistranslation of the title to 'Under the Sea' rather than 'Seas', which although corrected in this edition, persists to this day.
In America, the first edition was produced by James Osgood and Co. and appeared in late 1872, a few weeks after the publication of the British edition and most probably bound from the same sheets. However, it appears that this edition was quickly exhausted (only around 50 copies are known to exist), and the book was then issued by Smith and Co., with a new cover design depicting Captain Nemo using a sextant rather than the jellyfish vignette used by Osgood.