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August 1, 2013 12:02 PM   Subscribe

Typographic Insanity. You can still read the text of James Joyce's Ulysses even if all 265,222 words are printed on a 33 x 47 inch poster. It's a little harder when you cram the 820,000 words of the King James Bible. "Warner says theoretically they could print letterforms that are just seven printing dots high, meaning a type size of 0.3pt, where the capital letters would be .0002 inches tall. “That would be a poster with way over 1 million words,” he says. “And as of yet, we’ve not found a famous work in the public domain that long.” Also available, Das Kapital, Faust, Moby Dick, Origin of Species, MacBeth, Pride and Prejudice, Kama Sutra, Don Quixote, Tristram Shandy with more to come.
posted by storybored (31 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
Addendum: Posterizing the classics is not a new idea. Postertext has done something similar with large excerpts from select classics. Their added twist is that the text is formatted so that a picture is seen in the background.
posted by storybored at 12:07 PM on August 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


Hard to tell for sure, but it looks like they left out the big "S", "M", and "P" that begin the three sections of the book.

That's too bad.

It is cool, however, how you can make out Oxen of the Sun and Circe towards the center of the poster: very dense section followed by a much less dense section.

Also, the Ulysses poster is illegal in the US because of our very special copyright system, isn't it?
posted by mr_roboto at 12:12 PM on August 1, 2013


Their Romeo and Juliet poster is nice, as you can see the flow of the play. "A single glance at the jagged contours of text and you know: it won’t end well."
posted by Triplanetary at 12:13 PM on August 1, 2013


Cool idea, but I wouldn't want to be the person responsible for proofreading these before they go to press.
posted by Nat "King" Cole Porter Wagoner at 12:15 PM on August 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


Hang one of *those* up on your dorm room wall and see what the web wits tell you it means about you!
posted by aught at 12:24 PM on August 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


This will be the perfect format for the new Kindle Maxi we've been hearing so much about.
posted by Atom Eyes at 12:25 PM on August 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


I have this poster!
I love this poster!
It's ridiculous!

You can't read it because by the time you're at the end of a line, you pretty much can't find your way back to the next line - the text is too small. Still, I made myself a strong enough magnifying glass so that I can read it though only, really, ever about twenty words at a time.

I got Faust for a friend, it looks better and the type is a bit bigger, readable.
posted by From Bklyn at 12:28 PM on August 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


storybored: Thanks for linking to Postertext. I just bought their Time Machine poster. Better leave their website before I do any more silly impulse purchases.
posted by Triplanetary at 12:32 PM on August 1, 2013


Can somebody explain how the Shakespeare plays are formatted? I can't quite figure out what they did...
posted by schmod at 12:33 PM on August 1, 2013


“That would be a poster with way over 1 million words,” he says. “And as of yet, we’ve not found a famous work in the public domain that long.”

Sigh... I guess we have to start up an alphabet thread again.
posted by Kabanos at 12:41 PM on August 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


Then there's also Litographs, which takes a more artistic spin on the concept.
posted by CrystalDave at 12:43 PM on August 1, 2013


Gibbon is about 250k a volume- you'd probably need a couple posters to get it all in.
posted by monocyte at 12:43 PM on August 1, 2013


How many posters would it take to fit all of MetaFilter on?
posted by Atom Eyes at 12:51 PM on August 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


schmod, I cannot tell for sure, but each column may be a character in the play?
posted by maxwelton at 12:51 PM on August 1, 2013


How many posters would it take to fit all of MetaFilter on?

About 15,000 or so?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:57 PM on August 1, 2013


There’s nothing like a global financial meltdown to get people interested in Marx again. Have fun with old friend Karl as he explains how the exploitation and alienation of labour is the driving force of capitalism.
Our poster version of his seminal work cheekily reduces his whole philosophy to an ephemeral consumer product. A superb present for an investment banker!


Ahh, how I love marketing!
posted by chavenet at 1:02 PM on August 1, 2013


Postertext is disappointing (to me), because they don't always use the full text.

That doesn't mean I don't have to have one. I do.

One obvious variation of the Postertext idea, is to have a solid mass of text, but make letters darker and lighter to make a grayscale image.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 1:05 PM on August 1, 2013


John Waters has that quote about not fucking people without books in their apartment, but I think this poster is a sign you shouldn't fuck that person with books and this poster in their apartment.
posted by jenlovesponies at 1:24 PM on August 1, 2013


Lurgi: One obvious variation of the Postertext idea, is to have a solid mass of text, but make letters darker and lighter to make a grayscale image.
You mean like Ken Knowlton did in the 1960s.
For extra credit, what's a SC 4020?
posted by hexatron at 1:35 PM on August 1, 2013


I bet inDesign's H&J algorithm had a field day on such a wide measure with a tiny font.

Somewhere around 1995 I thought it would be really neat to send people entire books by fax in the smallest resolvable font. Armed with a crude imaging library and a Gutenberg CD-ROM, I splatted the first file I could find through my converter. When the first few pages of the book of Genesis scrolled by in flyspeck allcaps, I realized that the only application for this technology would be for being utter dicks to people, so I shelved it.
posted by scruss at 2:15 PM on August 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


For extra credit, what's a SC 4020?

Hey, I forgot all about that machine. Somewhere, I have a single frame of 35mm microfilm output from an SC4020. It was just a XY plot of some temperature data of a chemical reaction. I printed it on photo paper and handed it in as part of my chemistry homework. The teacher asked me about it, of course I was just waiting to tell him how cool it was to write a FORTRAN program to plot data on microfilm. He said, "well you could have just done it on graph paper like everyone else." But I didn't just do it on graph paper, I did it on a multimillion dollar computer system, and hardly anyone who uses it knows how to use the SC4020, not even the CS grad students.

Well I got the last laugh on Mr. Party Pooper chemistry teacher. Only 5 years later, I helped rewrite a popular chemistry textbook, converting all the exercises from slide rule to BASIC programs.
posted by charlie don't surf at 2:18 PM on August 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


WANT: Goethe. Marx, Darwin and Melville are going to make great gifts.
posted by Roger_Mexico at 3:30 PM on August 1, 2013


Clarissa is both public domain and a million words long.
posted by MrMoonPie at 4:36 PM on August 1, 2013


I realized that the only application for this technology would be for being utter dicks to people, so I shelved it.

How the hell do you expect to get VC money with that attitude?

Also, would this be anywhere near the nightmare that I'm imagining in terms of typesetting all of this in inDesign? That awful mess destroys my relatively new MacBook Pro with plenty of RAM. Does inDesign scale at all well, or do you need a specialized box/rack to handle this?
posted by graphnerd at 5:54 PM on August 1, 2013


Neat!

Should anyone feel the urge to begin producing these for non-fiction, non public-domain works, I could see people really getting a kick out of buying these for iconic textbooks. If Jackson's Classical Electrodynamics and Sharer's The Ancient Maya were available for sale, I'd have my graduation gift-giving needs wrapped up for the forseeable future. But, I suppose that involves convincing assorted publishers to sign on to the idea.

And, of course, this lead me to counting words in all the "really long" books I could think of that can be found in Project Gutenberg. Sure enough, none make it close to the million word mark. It'd be pretty interesting to see a distribution of book lengths, especially one where the sampling is well defined.

(Also, those of you now driven to try to find the longest novels should check wikipedia first. That so many data points are from English translations seems a bit wonky, but they already covered everything in my list.)
posted by eotvos at 6:27 PM on August 1, 2013


If Jackson's Classical Electrodynamics and Sharer's The Ancient Maya were available for sale, I'd have my graduation gift-giving needs wrapped up for the forseeable future.

In the physics department at UWMadison ten years or so back, a ULC-ordained officiant married two grad students to a short reading from Jackson.
posted by sebastienbailard at 7:13 PM on August 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


TS;DR
posted by BlueHorse at 7:43 PM on August 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


These look pretty cool but I already need bifocals to read anything smaller than 10 pt
posted by double block and bleed at 11:01 PM on August 1, 2013


There's a company producing these for non public-domain works called Spineless Classics. I just bought Roald Dahl's "Matilda", and they've got other recent works (like Harry Potter too). No idea if it's legit licensed though!
posted by web-goddess at 1:44 AM on August 2, 2013


So I figured I try this out myself, but creating an image rather than actually printing anything. I chose Alice in Wonderland because it's only 26,677 words. Here's the result (2000x2000 px image). Obviously I didn't spend any time actually worrying about the layout or typography, I just wanted to see if it was possible, and it is. You can actually read the words if you view the image at 1x size. I used LibreOffice and quickly realized that it has hard limits of the number of characters in a paragraph that it will lay out. Those two ugly white gaps are due to that -- it flat out refuses to let any more characters flow in those spots without inserting a hard newline.
posted by Rhomboid at 2:12 PM on August 2, 2013


I decided to give it another shot, this time with The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, which comes to 104,601 words. It was another exercise in making LibreOffice do something it was clearly not meant to do, but I was able to work out a system of hacks to get around them for the most part. Result: a 3000 x 2813 PNG image (5.1 MB). You can actually read the text if you view this image at 1:1 zoom, although it isn't easy. This image that I've linked is a reduction from the actual 55800 x 52317 rendering, and 3000 px turned out to be the size at which the text became barely legible, up from 2000 px from the previous experiment. Again, I'm not trying to apply any actual typographical or artistic aesthetic here, like indicating paragraph breaks or anything. I just wanted to see if it was possible to put 100k words in a single PNG and have it be readable, and it turns out that it is.
posted by Rhomboid at 9:59 AM on August 3, 2013


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