Guinness: Scientist creates world's largest book
At 133 pounds, light reading it's not
CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts (AP) --A 133-pound tome about the Asian country of Bhutan that uses enough paper to cover a football field and a gallon of ink has been declared the world's largest published book.
Author Michael Hawley, a scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said it's not a book to curl up with at bedtime -- "unless you plan to sleep on it."
Each copy of "Bhutan: A Visual Odyssey Across the Kingdom," is 5-by-7 feet, 112 pages and costs about $2,000 to produce. Hawley is charging $10,000 to be donated to a charity he founded, Friendly Planet, which has built schools in Cambodia and Bhutan.
Guinness World Records has certified Hawley's work as the biggest published book, according to Stuart Claxton, a Guinness researcher.
Hawley has led a number of MIT student expeditions to Cambodia and Bhutan, an isolated country of 700,000 people that is about the size of Switzerland, and thought he could raise money for education there by putting together some of the thousands of photographs he was gathering.
He said he did not set out to make the world's largest book. But playing around in his office at MIT's Media Lab with a state-of-the art digital printer, Hawley discovered just how spectacular large, digital images can look -- especially of Bhutan, a country flush with colorful scenery and dress where even the rice is red.
"What I really wanted was a 5-by-7-foot chunk of wall that would let me change the picture every day," he said. "And I thought there was an old-fashioned mechanism that might work. It's called the book."
Hawley said he's received about two dozen orders for the book, which includes an easel-like stand. Early customers include Brewster Kahle, the inventor of the Internet Archive project, who has known Hawley for years through his computer science work at MIT.
"You deal with a book in a fundamentally new way," Kahle said when asked about the appeal, adding he wasn't certain how he would display his copy. "You meet it eye-to-eye, like a person."
Processing and printing the images took enormous chunks of computing power, much of it donated by companies including Dell, Apple Computers and Kodak. Then there was the assembly. At this size, the normal physics of bookbinding simply don't apply.
"All my traditional techniques for binding books are impossible," said ACME Bookbinding President Paul Parisi. Zeff Hanower, a shop machinist, had to build an assembly line from scratch. ACME also used an "accordion" style of binding to ensure the book folded and held together properly.
Hawley said his research revealed that the biggest book in the Library of Congress was John J. Audubon's 19th century "Birds of America," which is 2.5-by-3.5 feet.
CNN.com - Guinness: Scientist creates world's largest book - Dec. 16, 2003
Wednesday, December 17, 2003
Guinness: Scientist creates world's largest book
Posted by BookBitch at 12/17/2003 04:45:00 PM
Tuesday, December 16, 2003
Oh, to lie, fabricate, spin, distort, twist . . .
Dennis Byrne is a Chicago-area writer and public affairs consultant
December 15, 2003
After reading the immensely popular book "The Da Vinci Code," I have decided that its author, Dan Brown, does not exist.
Why? If someone, like the alleged Brown, can distort, fabricate or even wipe out a couple thousand years of political and religious history for the sake of an exciting adventure mystery, then why can't I deny the existence of a single individual for the sake of a good column? If a Dan Brown can capriciously make up a whole bunch of stuff to entertain, why can't I do the same by hitting the delete button on whoever this Dan Brown is supposed to be? Oh, sure, I know there's a picture of someone claiming to be Dan Brown on the book cover, smiling out at us in a writer's uniform of khaki pants, black mock turtle neck and tweedy jacket. And it says right there that he wrote some other books and lives in New England. But I've never seen him. Have you?
Yes, my phone might ring and the voice might say, "I saw your column, and I'm Dan Brown." But I know that would be a lie. The voice can't prove that it's Dan Brown. Someone could come to my door and claim to be Dan Brown, producing a driver's license, voter's registration card and a birth certificate. But that doesn't prove anything. I choose to believe it's counterfeit.
And you people who are about to send me e-mails, telling me I finally have provided incontrovertible proof that I am a moron? You don't exist either. Then who wrote this 454-page book? Offhand, I'd guess that the author was Oliver Stone, a noted fabulist. Except that Stone doesn't exist either. He is the creation of a conspiracy that wants us to think that John F. Kennedy's assassination was a conspiracy plot.
Actually, Kennedy does exist. He lives in a bungalow with Elvis. In France.
So what if I'm selective with facts? Whatever suits my purpose, I say. For example, I don't believe in Des Moines. I do believe in Des Plaines. But why is denying the existence of an entire town more moronic than what this supposed Brown guy is doing? An example. He turns the Star of David into a sex symbol. The bottom half (the V) is a female symbol called the chalice. The top half (the inverted V) is really a phallus symbol "still used today on modern military uniforms to denote rank." And the more such "penises" you wear on your sleeve, the higher your rank, we're told. This, of course, will surprise U.S. sailors and airmen whose higher enlisted ranks are designated by the number of female chalices they wear on their insignia.
Minor mistake, sure. But not so minor are nonsense assertions that the Dead Sea Scrolls talked about Mary Magdalene, that "80" gospels were written, that the gospels portrayed her as a prostitute. Laughable is the assertion that a church which has been criticized for nearly "deifying" Mary the mother of Jesus has engaged in a centuries-long plot to destroy the "sacred feminine."
More absurd is an underlying presumption of this novel, that Christianity, and especially the Catholic Church, would for two millennia knowingly hide theological truth from millions upon millions of believers so--why? Just the fact that any institution could survive for 2,000 years is remarkable enough. That it could survive while hiding some dark secret that is directly contrary to its core belief--the divinity of Christ--is an assertion that can be swallowed only by the incurably gullible.
See, this story, while an exciting yarn, is so filled with errors, you have to start wondering if it was written by an incompetent (whose root, found in the ancient scribblings of Iyioneic lore, means nincompoop). If not, then someone who is trying to make the church's presumed enemies look stupid. Maybe someone who wants to discredit, say, gnosticism, by making up such a foolish story that any examination would expose its absurdities. Someone, maybe, working undercover for the Catholic Church. Maybe not a someone, but a something, a computer, a robotic writer, which compresses all the silliness and goofiness out there into one blockbuster of a book. Yes, it's becoming clear now. Dan Brown really didn't write this book! Because Dan Brown's "The Da Vinci Code" is an anagram for the Vatican's new hidden robo CD.
Tape to come later.
Chicago Tribune: Oh, to lie, fabricate, spin, distort, twist . . .
Posted by BookBitch at 12/16/2003 12:47:00 PM
Sunday, December 14, 2003
Unfinished Aubrey novel discovered among O'Brian's papers
Fans of the fictional seafaring hero Jack Aubrey are delighted at the prospect of the 21st story by the author whose work has been turned into a blockbuster film, writes Chris Hastings
Jack Aubrey, the fictitious naval commander played by Russell Crowe in the hit film Master and Commander, is to fight another day after the discovery of an unfinished novel by the author who created him.
Executors of the estate of Patrick O'Brian, who wrote 20 books about the heroic seafarer before his death in 2000, are believed to have found the near-completed novel among his personal papers.
O'Brian, who was still writing in his eighties, is known to have completed at least three chapters before his death and is believed to have made extensive notes about the direction of the novel. These are now being considered for publication in the light of the film's success.
Some friends of O'Brian believe that the author had written several more chapters that have yet to emerge.
The series, which charted the adventures of Aubrey and his ship Surprise during and after the Napoleonic wars, had already sold more than six million copies before O'Brian's work attracted the attention of film-makers.
Sales of the books, regarded by critics as among the best historical novels, have been further boosted by the film, which has grossed more than $100 million (£57 million) in a month.
O'Brian is understood to have begun work on what he referred to as Book 21 in 1998.
The unpublished chapters, which are believed to exist in a handwritten draft and a more polished, typed version, begin in South America, and take up where Blue at the Mizzen, the 20th book in the series, ended.
Farrers, the London law firm acting as the executor of O'Brian's estate, has consulted a literary specialist about publishing the work. The firm refused to comment further.
HarperCollins, the author's British publisher, also has one completed chapter, sent to them by O'Brian soon before his death.
It is understood that both parties have ruled out hiring a ghostwriter to try to emulate the author's distinctive prose style, fearing a backlash from fans who regard O'Brian's eye for historical detail and use of 19th-century language as unique.
Another more viable option would be to publish the unfinished novel as a stand-alone work, or to use it as the centrepiece of a new study into the author.
Starling Lawrence, the editor-in-chief at W W Norton and Co, O'Brian's United States publisher, said: "I am aware that there are the beginnings of a new novel by O'Brian, but I have not seen it myself.
"Patrick would rarely talk about his work and you would only know he had written something when it landed on your desk. As for the new book, if there were enough written I would have no reservations about publishing it unfinished."
The large number of websites dedicated to O'Brian and his work reflects the author's world-wide popularity.
One of the most popular sites, called The Gunroom, runs competitions in which fans try to emulate the writer's style.
Jan Hatwell, 49, a civil servant from Horsham in Surrey, who is a regular user of the site, said that publication of just three or four chapters would be enough to leave fans "foaming at the mouth".
He added: "We would be fascinated to see it. It would provide a unique glimpse into the author's writing style and provide a tiny clue about where he was taking the character."
Friends of the author, however, would prefer the book's contents to remain secret.
Kevin Myers, a columnist for the Telegraph, who befriended the writer in the later years of his life, said: "He was writing up until his death because at that stage all that was left to him was his books and his adulation.
"He did not talk about what he was working on. Anyone who asked him about a work in progress was likely to get their head bitten off.
"I have not seen the unpublished book, but I hope it's not made public. In my opinion, his last published novel was a travesty. It was tragic and was only printed because publishers wanted to cash in on his success. His talent as a writer had been completely exhausted by then."
Helen Lucy Burke, a friend who says she was shown the unfinished book, said: "It is only a draft and it would have been subject to constant re-writes by Patrick if he were still alive.
"It is not my decision, of course, but I would be violently opposed to the idea of anyone ghostwriting the book."
The discovery of the unfinished material is the latest twist in a remarkable literary story that began with the publication of Master and Commander, the first book in the series in 1970.
The books went largely unnoticed outside Britain until The New York Review of Books carried a prominent review of The Reverse of the Medal, the 11th, and described its predecessors as "the best books you have never read".
That article prompted great interest in the author and propelled his entire back catalogue into the spotlight. Subsequent additions to the series throughout the 1990s became big publishing events.
O'Brian's life contained as much fiction as his books. For years he portrayed himself as an Irish-born gentleman from Galway who had learnt to sail on a square-rigged ship.
In 1998 it emerged that he had been born to relatively poor parents of German immigrant descent in Buckinghamshire and had changed his name.
Telegraph | News | Unfinished Aubrey novel discovered among O'Brian's papers
Posted by BookBitch at 12/14/2003 09:40:00 AM