20 Interesting Facts About Books

Deluge tablet from Mesopotamia

20 Interesting Facts About Books

by Chinyere Nwosu

August 29, 2021


Books never fail to amaze us as they contain interesting information for our use. Here are 20 interesting facts about books. You may want to read at least one of these books after seeing these facts.


1. The earliest work of literature 

An epic poem titled the Epic of Gilgamesh. The poem is from ancient Mesopotamia. The Epic of Gilgamesh is in the Akkadian language and told in 12 tablets. This epic dates back to the 18th century BC.



2. When was the printing press invented?

The printing press was invented in the year 1440. According to Google, the number of published titles since the invention of the printing press is over 140 million unique book titles.

E-books are gaining in popularity. The estimation is that about 20% of books sold in the USA are e-books. Audiobooks are gaining on the statistics since 2010.


3. Earliest book printed

The Gutenberg Bible was the earliest book printed using mass-produced moveable metal type in Europe. The Gutenberg Bible is also known as the 42-line Bible, B42, or Mazarin Bible. It is the Latin Vulgate printed in the 1450s by Johannes Gutenberg in Mainz. (Wikipedia). Johannes Genfleisch zur Laden zum Gutenberg invented the printing press.


4. Number of books published each year

According to UNESCO, about 2.2 million new books are published each year across the globe.


5. The first modern novel

Title: The Tale of Genji. 

Author: Murasaki Shikibu – a noblewoman and lady-in-waiting.

Year: 11th century

City: Japan

The Tale of Genji is classic Japanese literature. The original version is in archaic Japanese language and has a poetic style (Wikipedia). The Tale of Genji was interpreted into modern Japanese by Akiko Yosano in the early 20th century. The first attempt to translate the book into English was in 1882. The Tale of Genji is about the life of Hikaru Genji, the son of an ancient Japanese emperor.


6. The first typewritten manuscript sent to a publisher 

The first typewritten manuscript sent to a publisher was by Mark Twain – his book Life on the Mississippi in 1882. Although Mark Twain recounts this in his autobiography as the manuscript of Tom Sawyer, typewriter historian Darry Rehr says it was the Life on the Mississippi, and the machine used was a Remington No. 2 (University of Virginia).


7. The world’s largest paper book 

Guinness World Record says that the world’s largest book made of paper is 5 meters wide and 8.06 meters long. The book is by Mshahed International Group in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. It has 429 pages and weighs 1,500kg.

The title of this book is the Prophet Muhamed. Unveiled in February 2012, this book won the world’s largest paper book in the Guinness World Record. Over 50 people took part in the construction of this book that highlights the lifetime achievements of the Islam Prophet.


8. The world’s largest tablet book

The world’s largest tablet book is a collection of tablets bearing the complete scripture of Theravada Buddhism. The book is a structure located in Manday, Myanmar, Burma. This collection forms a part of the 730 marble tablets found in Kuthodaw Pagoda. The stone book was built by King Mindon min in 1857. (Atlas Obscura).


9. The longest novel ever

The title of the longest novel ever is Remembrance of Things Past by Marcel Proust. The length is 9,609,000 characters (spaces not counted). This book – A la recherche du temps perdu (in the native tongue) – holds the record as the longest novel ever. The first volume was first published in 1913. (Guinness World Record).


10. The thickest book ever published.

According to Guinness World Record, the thickest book ever published is 12.67 inches wide and 4,032 pages long.

The book Title is The Complete Miss Marple. It is a collection of 20 short stories and 12 mystery novels.

The author is Agatha Christie. This feat was achieved in India – Gyanjivandasji Swami in Gujarat, on February 2, 2020.


11. Longest audiobook made

Guinness World Record states that the longest audiobook made was published on October 27, 2017.

The length of the audiobook is 146,444minutes, 52 seconds, which is about 2,440hours or 101.67 days.

The title of the book is Shree Haricharitramrut Sagar, co-authored by  Gynajivandasji Swami and Ishwarcharandasji Swami.

The second-longest audiobook was published in 2008 also in India.

It consists of the lectures of Takaaki Yoshimoto, a philosopher, poet, and literary critic from Japan.

The book is about 5days long with total runtime of 115hours, 43minutes.


12. Most expensive book ever made.

The most expensive book ever sold is the Bay Psalm BookThe Bay of Psalm Book is one of the earliest books printed in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1640. It is also the first book printed in British North America. The Bay Psalms Book sold for $14,165,000 at an auction in New York in 2013.


13. The largest published book

According to the Guinness World Record – The largest published book is The Little Prince, written by Antoine de Saint-Exupery. This book measures 3.08meters wide when open and 2.01meters high. The Little Prince was featured in Brazil, Rio De Janeiro, Biannual Book Fair on September 13, 2007. It has 128pages and was edited by Eidouro Grafica e Editora Ltda, Brazil.


14. Largest structure made of books

Argentine art icon Marta Minujin created a Parthenon to scale using banned books, plastic wrap, and metal grills. The Parthenon was built at the historic Nazi book burning site in central Germany. A total of 100,000 books spanning 170 titles were used in constructing this sculpture. The Parthenon was made in 2017. (The Local DE).


15. The longest book title ever

The longest book title ever consists of over 3,700 words. This book was written by Vityala Yethindra and released on March 20, 2019, in Kyrgyzstan (Bishkek), India. The title contains 26,000 characters. The author achieved this title length by including the different species the book mentions and fifty questions in the title. (Guinness World Record)


16. The world’s first bookmobile

The world’s earliest bookmobile was launched in 1857 by George Moore in Great Britain. This bookmobile was a horse-drawn wagon created to distribute good literature among the rural populace traveling between 18 villages in west England.


17. Books bound in human skin

Harvard University has a book bound in human skin (The Verge). The book is Des destinees de l’ame (Destinies of The Soul) – published in the 1880s. It is confirmed within 99.9% confidence that this book was bound in a cover made of human skin. A note from the donor of this book confirms this claim. Destinies of The Soul has been in Harvard since the 1930s. Harvard curators (anthropodermic bibliopegy) say that the act of binding books in human skin dates to the 15th century. Although not a common practice, it is done to memorialize the dead.


18. The oldest extant novel

This book is Chariton’s Chaireas & Callirhoe, subtitled Love Story in Syracuse. It narrates the adventures of a beautiful bride named Callirhoe. It was written in the first century AD. The book is credited as the oldest extant novel by the Guinness World Record.

Second to this is the only Latin novel that still survives in whole – Golden Ass or Metamorphoses, written in AD123.


19. A book that purifies water

A non-profit organization – WaterisLife – created a book that purifies water to raise awareness on proper sanitation and hygiene. The book is printed on filter paper coated with silver nanoparticles. This design helps it to kill waterborne bacteria like E. coli, cholera, and typhoid. (WaterisLife). A single book can provide someone with clean water for about 4years.


20. The best selling book in the world

The bestselling book in the world is the Bible.


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