Thursday, October 29, 2009

A Big Book. A VERY Big Book

Welcome to my book. Please, step inside.

Oh, to curl up in bed with a good book! But not this book.

Measuring more than 5 x 7 feet and weighing in at 133 pounds, Bhutan: A Visual Odyssey Across the Last Himalayan Kingdom has been certified by Guinness World Records as the largest published book in the world. At this size, it may qualify for its own zip code.

Production of the book stretched image-processing systems to their limits. The life-size portraits of people and the panoramas convey some of the staggering sweep of the mountains and the ancient architecture in Bhutan, the last intact Himalayan kingdom.

The book's creator, Michael Hawley of MIT, challenged Acme Bookbinding of Charlestown, Mass, the world's oldest book bindery. "Every page in this book is a masterpiece," notes Paul Parisi, president of Acme. "We built the permanent binding it deserves." Acme invented a hand-built binding that combines the strengths of Western-style stitched books with Asian-style fanfolding.

The book features 112 pages of spectacular images and showcases the variety of digital, photographic and printing techniques that Hawley used. Copies are printed on-demand (imagine warehousing a print run!) using a roll of paper longer than a football field and more than a gallon of ink. It takes a full twenty-four hours to print.

Copies may be bought for a mere $30,000. Stick a mast on it and you can raft your way around the world, just like Thor Heyerdahl, Kon-Tiki-style.

Love the book but turn a page and we capsize. The damp-stains are really annoying.

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