Tracing the publication history of a book includes asking questions like:
These are often trickier questions than they initially seem. Records for sales figures and prices can be hard to find, especially for books published before the 20th century. Some of this information is in publishers' archives, and some of it doesn't survive. But take heart! There are often ways to work around this kind of question.
Union catalogs, like the database WorldCat, are listings of what libraries hold in their collections. Union catalogs can reveal details about editions, publishers, and dates of publication in the metadata of their individual records. Sometimes, the metadata may also include details about number of copies printed, physical descriptions of items, and any introductions included.
Bibliographies, both in print and online, can supply you with basic information about when and where different editions of a text were published.
Biographies and critical studies of authors can also provide information about the publication histories of individual works, and are worth checking.
Archives may contain primary sources -- e.g. manuscripts, correspondence, diaries, receipts, ephemera, etc. -- related to the author or publisher.