News room: 10 Extraordinary Book Facts

10 Extraordinary Book Facts by Jessica Barrah

Printed books are what we do here at CompletelyNovel – we can print anything from one copy to thousands. Everything from the cover art, the length of the book and the price you set is up to you. But what’s the most expensive book in the world? Or the longest one? We take a look at some record breaking books.

1. The Longest Novel Ever Written

À la recherche du temps perdu/In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust has 1,267,069 words, 3,031 pages, and is published in 13 volumes. It’s listed as the longest novel by Guinness World Records – despite complaints that some self-published fan fiction could easily beat that word count. However, it’s not just ‘feel the length’ but ‘feel the quality’ in this case, since Proust’s work was critically acclaimed, and was an influence on many important writers of the twentieth century.

Read more about unfeasibly long books here.

2. The World’s Oldest Mechanically Printed Book

The earliest mechanically printed full-length book is listed by Guinness World Records as the Gutenberg Bible, printed in Mainz, Germany c.1455 by Johann Henne zum Gensfleisch zur Laden. However, some scholars argue that the Chinese had invented the movable type 6 or 7 centuries before, and published books far earlier.

3. The Most Expensive Book On Amazon

You can buy a book entitled Amazon’s Most Expensive Book at £150 just for the Kindle edition. It’s just 19 pages long, and probably worth avoiding, since reviews include ‘I got this for free and regret paying that much.’

There are other very expensive books on Amazon, such as the International Encyclopedia of Social Behavioural Sciences. It’s best to buy the hardback edition at $22.50, rather than the Kindle edition priced ‘from $12,093’.

However, this seems cheap compared to the $23,698,655.93 for a book about developmental biology, The Making of a Fly by Peter A.Lawrence. As biologist Michael Eisen wrote in his blog the vastly elevated price was due to Amazon algorithms. Two sellers were trying to compete, using Amazon’s automatic pricing tools. Algorithms without limits on the figures that were being produced caused the book price to increase to ridiculous levels. You can now buy the book for around $30, which is an absolute bargain in comparison.

4. The Most Expensive Book In The World

In 2013, a copy of the Bay Psalm Book was sold in an auction at Sotheby’s, New York, USA, for US$14.2m – the highest price that a book has ever fetched at auction. The Bay Psalm Book was the first book ever printed in British North America, back in 1640, when 1,700 copies were produced. The book sold was one of just 11 surviving copies.

Read about more expensive books in this article, The Ten Most Expensive Books In the World.

5. The World’s Fastest Selling Book

The fastest selling book in history is the seventh and final Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling. It sold 8.3 million copies in the first 24 hours after its midnight release in the USA on 21 July 2007.

6.The World’s Slowest Selling Book

The world’s slowest-selling book is David Wilkins’ translation of the New Testament from Coptic into Latin, published by Oxford University Press in 1716. Just 500 copies were made, yet it remained in print for 191 years, selling around 1 book each 20 weeks.

7. The World’s Largest Book

The largest book in the world is 5 m x 8.06 m (16.40 ft x 26.44 ft), and consists of 429 pages. Its title is ‘This the Prophet Mohamed’ and is a compilation of stories highlighting the lifetime achievements of Islam’s Prophet. It was produced by the Mshahed International Group, and unveiled in Dubai, UAE, on 27 February 2012.

8. The World’s Largest Published Book

The largest published book is a Brazilian edition of ‘The Little Prince’ measuring 2.01 m (6 ft 7 in) high and 3.08 m (10 ft 1 in) wide when open, and containing 128 pages.

9. The World’s Thickest Book

The thickest published book is 322 mm (12.67 in) in width, published by HarperCollins in London, UK, on 20 May 2009. It’s a collection of all of Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple stories – 12 novels and 20 short stories in just one volume. 500 copies of the limited edition were produced, for retail at £1,000 each.

10. The World’s Smallest Book

The smallest book in the world is a reproduction of a 30-page tale that fits on the width of a human hair. It has its own ISBN, is printed with pure crystalline silicon and costs £15,000 to create. But the story is a humble one – Teeny Ted from Turnip Town is all about a turnip growing competition.

Read more about the book here.

And Finally…

‘The world’s shortest book’ is a joke template popular in the 1960s, consisting of a book title and an author, which, when paired together, would be nonsensical or ironic -for example, How to Win A Presidential Election by Hillary Clinton. The template ‘Everything X Knows About Y’ for example, “Everything the average man knows about women” was also popular – the book being composed of blank pages.

Further reading:

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Written by
Jessica Barrah
Published on
Books, Biggest, Smallest, Most expensive, World records, and Oldest