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  Saturday, January 16, 2010

  Largest published book - world record set by Michael Hawley

 CAMBRIDGE, Mass., USA -- Measuring more than 5 x 7 feet and weighing in at 133 pounds, Bhutan: A Visual Odyssey Across the Last Himalayan Kingdom, created by Michael Hawley of MIT, sets the world record for the Largest published book.

The world's Largest published book features 112 pages of spectacular images and showcases the variety of digital, photographic and printing techniques that Hawley used. (enlarge photo)

   Copies are printed on-demand 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.

    "What I really wanted was a 5-by-7-foot chunk of wall that would let me change the picture every day," Michael Hawley said. "And I thought there was an old-fashioned mechanism that might work. It's called the book."

   Production of the world's largest published 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.

    A limited edition of 500 copies of Bhutan are being produced. but the book is not being sold in an ordinary sense. Copies may be bought for a mere $30,000.
    Proceeds will benefit Bhutanese schools, scholars and educational programs. Each copy of the book will be built expressly for the recipient. is the exclusive online outlet for the largest published book and FedEx will provide free shipping to patrons.

   To bind the books, Hawley turned to the world's oldest book bindery, Acme Bookbinding of Charlestown, Mass. "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.

   Hawley, a technology pioneer at the Media Lab and founder of pathbreaking research programs like "Toys of Tomorrow" and "Things that Think," fell in love with the tiny Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan while leading several MIT field expeditions there. Nestled between Nepal, Tibet and India, Bhutan is home to one of the most astonishingly diverse and unspoiled natural and cultural ecologies on earth.

   The idea for the largest published book grew out of a desire to use scientific field expeditions to drive better photography. "Every field team, from MIT geologists to the local boy scout troop, feels an obligation to collect and share the best possible record of their work," said Hawley. "But photography can be a real annoyance on expeditions."

   Although digital photography has advanced tremendously in recent years, systems are still disorganized and most field teams can't capture a very complete visual record. Much of what comes back from a field expedition languishes on a shelf somewhere, collecting dust.

   With seed funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and from the MIT/Microsoft iCampus initiative (a five-year alliance between MIT and Microsoft Research), Hawley led four expeditions to Bhutan over the course of four years.
    Teams of MIT and Bhutanese students, officials and staff flew by helicopter, rode mountain ponies, trekked with packhorses and yaks, and journeyed by caravan on far-flung roads and foot trails across the Bhutanese Himalayas. They had extraordinary assistance from the Royal Government of Bhutan and from Chhundu Travel and Tours.

   Hawley's teams were equipped with the latest digital and film photo gear to capture a collective portrait of this remote paradise. Imagery shot by the ensembles of photographers was GPS coded, captioned and stored on pocket disk drives on the spot.

   Related world records:
Oldest newspaper columnist-world record set by Margaret Caldwel

Largest Book-world record set by Ayman Trawi

  Most expensive Baby photos: Angelina Jolie's twins sets world record
  Most expensive newspaper copy-Romanian newspaper sets world record

Saturday, January 16, 2010

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