In 1839, English novelist and playwright Edward Bulwer-Lytton wrote ‘the pen is mightier than the sword’ to illustrate the fact that the written word is more effective than violence in bringing about change. In the case of the largest tomes, these pens must have been unbelievably mighty.
There are plenty of famous books that can break the bank, indeed a signed first edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone can cost up to £10,000 or more. However the largest books on this list won’t break the bank so much as break your back if you try and pick them up!
For these behemoth books, you’re going to need a coffee table the size of an aircraft carrier!
What are The Biggest Books in the World?
As well as a rundown to the biggest book ever, we’ll also let you know just how long the longest book in history. Sit back, this is going to be a real page-turner!
Published: Early 13th century | Size: 92cm long, 52cm wide, 22cm thick
Literally ‘giant book’, the Codex Gigas is the world’s largest extant mediaeval illustrated manuscript and one of the biggest books in the world.
Legend has it the book was created by a monk who broke his monastic vows and instead of being walled up forever, he promised to create a book of such magnificence it would contain all of human knowledge. In one night.
It was written in the early thirteenth century in modern-day Czech Republic, weighs almost 75kg and it is made up of 310 leaves of vellum.
Often called The Devil’s Bible due to the unusually large and detailed illustration of Satan, it contains a number of Latin manuscripts including the fourth century Vulgate bible, Isidore of Seville’s Etymologiae, the chronicle of Cosmas of Prague and two books by Constantine the African.
Today it can be found in the National Library of Sweden.
Published: 1660 | Size: 1.75 metres x 1.9 metres wide open
Named after Dutch philosophy professor Johannes Klencke, the atlas emanated from a golden age of Dutch mapmaking and is said to have contained all the available geographical knowledge in the world.
The atlas – a singular book, meaning no other copies were made – was presented to King Charles II either to congratulate him on his restoration to the English throne, or as a bribe to ‘ask’ the king to grant Klencke and his associates trading rights and titles.
A contender for world’s biggest book, the king kept the Klencke Atlas in his ‘Cabinet and Closset of Rarities’ in the Palace of Whitehall. Today, it is part of the British Library’s permanent collection.
Bhutan: A Visual Odyssey Across the Last Himalayan Kingdom
Published: 2003 | Size: 2.13 metres x 1.53 metres wide open
Weighing in at a shade over 60kg and – fully open – roughly the size of a table-tennis table, the Bhutan-based book was ratified by Guinness World Records as the biggest book ever until it was surpassed in 2007.
The 118-page book is a visual record of four trips to the kingdom of Bhutan containing 40,000 photographs. It was compiled by former MIT scientist Michael Hawley with contributions from a number of photographers.
Each book costs around $2,000, uses almost four litres of ink and sells for $10,000. All profits go to a charity that helps to fund the building of schools in Bhutan and Cambodia.
Published: 2010 | Size: 4.18 metres x 3.77 metres
Almost 250km northeast of Budapest in the Hungarian countryside is the tiny village of Szinpetri, home to 300 people and until 2012, the world’s biggest book.
The 346-page, 1.4 ton book was made by father and son Béla and Gábor Varga who specialise in traditional bookbinding techniques. It was printed on an industrial printer used for outdoor billboard advertising. The book is so heavy it takes six people to turn a page.
This The Prophet Mohammed
Published: 2012 | Size: 8.06 metres x 5 metres
The biggest book in the world is, according to Guinness World Records, called This The Prophet Mohammed and is the largest, heaviest, widest, longest and most expensive book ever produced.
The 429-page book was unveiled in Dubai in February 2012 by the Mshahed International Group and weighs a staggering 1,500kg, roughly the same as a fully-grown giraffe!
The book is an anthology of stories about the Prophet Mohammed and was written by around 15 scholars.
The World’s Longest Books
The length of books varies greatly, as does the criteria for measuring them, and it’s fair to say that the record for the longest book in history often courts controversy.
The most common method of determining the length of a book is by character count, which takes in the number of spaces, written characters and punctuation. There are other methods including number of pages and number of words.
Author: Arno Schmidt | Pages: 1,496 | Words: Approx. 1,300,000
Bottom’s Dream is the longest novel published in a single volume. It was written by West German author Arno Schmidt in the early 1970s and spans a time period of 54 hours. The story is about the issues of translating the works of Edgar Allan Poe into German as well as exploring Poe’s themes.
Artamène ou le Grand Cyrus
Author: Madeleine de Scudery | Pages: 13,095 | Words: Approx. 1,954,300
Originally published in ten volumes as a novel sequence in the mid-seventeenth century, ‘Artamène, or Cyrus the Great’ is a romantic novel set in Persia and reflects society in the 1650s.
Author: Bahuleyan Jeyamohan | Pages: 22,400 | Words: Approx. 2,300,000
Venmurasu is an online book spanning 26 volumes and is a modern day interpretation of the Indian classical epic Mahabharatha. According to the author, the book – one of the longest books in history – ‘paints a canvas as big as time itself.’
À La Recherche Du Temps Perdu
Author: Marcel Proust | Pages: 3,031 | Words: 1,267,069
Translated as Remembrance of Things Past and published between 1913 and 1927, Proust’s magnum opus has been ratified by Guinness World Records as the longest novel ever written. The 13-volume masterpiece contains an estimated 9,609,000 characters and follows the author’s journey from childhood into adulthood in the French upper classes in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.