World’s longest single-volume book goes on sale, and it’s impossible to read

·2-min read

A limited edition of the world’s longest single-volume book of the popular manga series, One Piece, has now gone on sale.

With 21,450 pages, the book is physically impossible to read. As it was created with the intention of highlighting how comics now serve as commodities, it’s more of a sculpture than a book.

Priced at €1,900 (£1,640), the sculpture, titled ONEPIECE, is being sold by Ilan Manouach, the multidisciplinary artist who designed it after Eiichiro Oda’s original comics, which were published weekly in the Japanese magazine Shōnen Jump beginning in 1997.

After printing out the digital Japanese edition of One Piece, Manouach bound it together, treating it not as a book but as “sculpture material”, according to the book/ artwork’s French publisher JBE.

ONEPIECE is an “unreadable sculpture that takes the shape of a book – the largest one to date in page numbers and spine width – that materialises the ecosystem of online dissemination of comics,” a JBE spokesperson told The Guardian.

“Ilan Manouach’s ONEPIECE proposes to shift the understanding of digital comics from a qualitative examination of the formal possibilities of digital comics to a quantitative reappraisal of ‘comics as Big Data’,” they added.

Following its release on 7 September, the 50 copies of its limited edition run sold out within days.

ONEPIECE by Ilan Manouach (Photo by JBE)
ONEPIECE by Ilan Manouach (Photo by JBE)

While Keita Murano, a member of the international rights staff at Shueisha, the Japanese publisher of Oda’s manga confirmed to the news site that they were not consulted about the book/ sculpture, JBE said: “This piece is about Manouach’s work around ecosystems of comics, here as a sculptor who uses online dissemination as source material, not reading copyrighted content.”

The publisher believes that because the book is physically impossible to read, there could be no copyright infringement.