Hawley's Bhutan book sets size record

Rohit Khare Rohit at ics.uci.edu
Fri Dec 19 11:29:07 PST 2003

ACME is the company that's binding my thesis, by the by -- Parisi's rep 
in the library binding world seems well earned... their press release 
is also attached.


PS. Thanks to DEE for the initial forward

Begin forwarded message:

> Date: December 18, 2003 8:47:48 PM PST
> Subject: [interest] FWD: World's Biggest Book
> <http://www.suntimes.com/output/news/cst-nws-book15.html>
> MIT scientist has world's biggest book -- on Bhutan
> December 15, 2003
> CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- 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. [A factor of 5 mark up from
> fabrication cost to retail price is normal. --dee3]
> 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 has received about two dozen orders for the book, which
> includes an easel-like stand. Early customers include Brewster Kahle,
> 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 assembly.
> ''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.  [Acme is in Charlestown Massachusetts. They have an
> article about this on their home page at http://www.acmebook.com/.
> --dee3]
> Hawley said the biggest book in the Library of Congress has been John 
> J.
> Audubon's 19th century Birds of America, which measures 2-1/2-by-3-1/2
> feet.


CHARLESTOWN, Dec. 15, 2003 -- The world's oldest book bindery is now 
also the world's “largest book” bindery.

Acme Bookbinding of Charlestown, MA., is the exclusive builder of the 
world's largest book. Announced today in New York by the book's 
creator, Michael Hawley of MIT, Bhutan: A Visual Odyssey across the 
last Himalayan Kingdom is an enormous photographic book that opens to 
5x7 feet and weighs 133 pounds. According to the Guinness World 
Records, it is the largest published book. Manufacturing the book was 
no small feat. "You can't just snap sheets of paper that size into a 
three-ring binder," said Hawley. "But when we first began printing, we 
hadn't really thought through to the binding of it. I wish I could say 
I was a genius and selected the best book bindery in the world for this 
job. But the truth is, I opened the yellow pages and picked the first 
name off the list: Acme. Luckily for us, they turned out to be the best 
book bindery in the world for this job. In fact, Acme is one of very 
few binderies in the world that could manage it with the attention and 
care required. Not surprisingly they combine flinty New England 
ingenuity with a true Bostonian passion for the printed word."

The giant tome is intended to stand on an easel or lean against the 
wall. In order to keep the pages from drooping, Acme designed a unique 
hybrid binding that combines an Asian fan-folded structure with 
European-style elements. In addition to strength, the fan-folding makes 
possible the display of seven-foot wide image spreads. This requires 
very precise page folds in order to maintain clean edges and structural 
integrity, and the folds need to be millimeter-accurate over the entire 
400 feet of paper. To accomplish this, Acme's engineers designed and 
built a very large folding bench with a pneumatic pressing clamp for 
precision creasing. Nevertheless, each hand-built volume is a big 
undertaking, and requires two days of assembly time.

"The book is a masterpiece," says Paul Parisi, president of Acme. "It's 
a little like having an incredible larger-than-life art gallery in one 
volume. So crafting the binding to match that level of beauty became a 
labor of love for us."

Bhutan is available exclusively on Amazon.com. It is offered to donors 
who make a $10,000 or greater contribution to Friendly Planet, a 
501(c)-3 nonprofit charity. Proceeds are tax-deductible and are donated 
in support of Bhutanese schools and scholars. To learn more or to order 
Bhutan, visit: http://www.amazon.com/bhutan .


Friendly Planet, a nonprofit company, helps children give to and learn 
from each other across great divides. For example, in rural Cambodia, 
it costs just $25,000 to build a whole school big enough for 500 kids. 
Helping to create schools like these, and giving young kids real 
reasons to be engaged, is part of Friendly Planet's mission.

Press Contact: 617-242-1100 x 245, pete at acmebook.com

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