It's official "“ at 4,032 pages, all resting on a spine over a foot thick, the world's thickest book is The Complete Miss Marple. The massive volume, a collection of the 12 novels and 20 short stories by Agatha Christie featuring the guileless spinster detective, was revealed to the public at a press event at Foyle's Charing Cross Road bookshop in London on Wednesday, May 20.
Taking part in the event was Christie's grandson and inheritor of her estate, Matthew Prichard, who congratulated HarperCollins, publisher of Christie's books, on creating a "piece of literary history," and said, "I hope that a lot of very nice people come to possess one."
Asked later what his grandmother would have made of the record-winning tome, he said, "I think that she'd be amazed that we were all in Foyle's, 35 years after her death, celebrating Miss Marple."
Prichard also admitted that he hadn't tried to read the new book yet. "I've got a very bad leg at the moment so I don't think I could do it," he said, laughing. "It's heavier than it looks!"
The book's unveiling was not without its own suspense, of course "“ Guinness Book of World Records adjudicator John Pilley, armed with a tape measure, was on hand to determine whether or not the book actually met all the world record criteria. Luckily, it did, and Pilley had the pleasure of awarding the book's publishers the official Guinness World Record certificate. Afterwards, Pilley, himself an Agatha Christie fan, asked Prichard to autograph one of her books for him.
A few quick facts about the World's Thickest Book:
The book is as much a technological feat as a literary one, if not more so. The book is 4,032 pages long, all collected in a spine 322 mm (12.6 inches) thick, bound in maroon leather with gilt writing on the cover and appropriately enough, paged edged with red speckling. At 8.02 kilograms, or about 17.6 pounds, it weighs as much as a medium-sized dog, even more when it's in its bespoke suede-lined wooden box. It's made up of 252 separate 16-page sections, which are hand-sewn together and to the spine. For awhile, it was questionable whether they could find a guillotine powerful enough to trim the book's considerable edges. It is, I can say with the satisfaction of a person who likes to see inordinately large things, massive.
Though no one's tried it yet, reading at a pace of 30 pages an hour, it would take around 134 hours to finish the book.
The book contains an introduction by best-selling British mystery writer, Kate Mosse, who has often claimed that Agatha Christie is one of her favorite authors, and a water-color illustration of St. Mary's Mead, Miss Marple's fictional village, based on a drawing Christie herself created for The Murder at the Vicarage.
Through the 12 novels and 20 short stories reproduced in the book, Miss Marple solves 43 murders: 12 poisonings, six strangulations, two drownings, two stabbings, two people pushed to their deaths, one rather grisly burning, one blow to the head, and one arrow through the heart. In all, 68 crimes are committed, including the murders. There are 11 philandering spouses, 21 romances, 22 false accusations, and a whopping 59 red herrings. And, as solid evidence of either Miss Marple's ability to keep a cool head or the English obsession with tea, characters drink 143 cups of tea.
Only 500 of the books have been made for sale and they'll go at a cost of Â£1000 each. Check out AgathaChristie.com if you want one.