Amazon to sell world's largest book

If you've got US$10,000 to spare and know someone with an extremely large bookshelf, you may be in for some interesting holiday shopping this December on

The online retailer plans to sell a massive 100 page book printed on seven foot by five foot pages, according to Michael Hawley, a director of special projects at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) who is publishing the book as fund raising exercise for a non-profit company he founded called Friendly Planet.

Speaking last Friday at the Usenix association's BSDCon Conference in San Mateo, California, Hawley said he had signed up Amazon to "promote the hell" out of the book by contacting the company's chief executive himself. "I called Jeff Bezos at Amazon and said, 'You really can be the world's largest bookseller,'" Hawley said.

Hawley has led MIT research projects exploring the ways that digital technology can affect every day objects like coffee makers, refrigerators, and even fruits and vegetables.

The book, which will be called "Growing up in Bhutan," will be published using Hewlett-Packard Co.'s DesignJet 5500, a large format printer sometimes used for fine art projects. It will feature photographs of the country and people of Bhutan, a tiny Himalayan nation of 600,000 that may be best known for waiting until 1999 to officially adopt television.

The book's photographs were taken by teams of MIT and Friendly Planet photographers who visited Bhutan in 2001 and 2002 while experimenting with ways to combine digital imaging and global positioning system technology.

Each book will be made from four 100-foot long rolls of 5-foot wide paper which are then folded like an accordion. Tabs will be inserted into the rolls at seven foot intervals and those tabs will then be stitched into the book's binding. Just printing the images on the four rolls of paper will take about 25 hours, according to Hawley.

The book was partially inspired by John James Audubon's "The Birds of America," which at two and one half foot square is the largest book in the U.S. Library of Congress. Only 175 copies of the book were published between 1826 and 1838, but it was sold for US$1,000, according to Hawley -- a princely sum at the time.

"I thought, well, maybe we could sell copies of the world's largest book for US$10,000 per copy," Hawley said. "If we were to sell 500 copies, that would raise more than US$4 million."

Another inspiration was an episode of the TV show "Seinfeld," where the character Kramer publishes a coffee table book about coffee tables, packaged in the shape of a coffee table, said Hawley.

Hawley has contacted HIT Entertainment PLC, the publishers of the Guinness Book of World Records, and confirmed that his book will, in fact, be the largest book in the world, a finding that seems to have pleased the book's binding company, Charlestown, Massachusetts' Acme Bookbinding.

"I walked in with this huge thing and they just about peed in their pants," Hawley said. "They'd never seen anything like it."

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Robert McMillan

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Armand Abogado

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

Wireless printing from my iPhone was also a handy feature, the whole experience was quick and seamless with no setup requirements - accessed through the default iOS printing menu options.

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?