Part of the M6 toll road is built from copies of pulped Mills and Boon novels. 2.5 million books were shredded into a paste and then added to a mixture of asphalt and tarmac to prevent it cracking.
The British Library’s collection of Mills & Boon novels was once stored in 'The Arched Room' at the British Museum, but when the library moved to its new site they were replaced with clay tablets covered in cuneiform writing that once formed part of the library of King Ashurbanipal, a sixth-century King of Assyria.
Surveys have repeatedly found that more than 1 in 4 people who claim to have read George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four are lying, making it the most lied-about book. People also lie about having read War and Peace, Great Expectations, Lord of the Rings, Pride and Prejudice, A Brief History of Time and Midnight’s Children.
Nineteen Eighty-Four was originally called ‘The Last Man in Europe’. War and Peace was ‘All’s Well That Ends Well’. Peter Benchley, author of Jaws, couldn’t think of a title at all so his father, Nathaniel, suggested 'What’s that noshin’ on ma leg?'
Of the 200,000 books that had recorded sales in 2008, only 10,000 sold more than 3,500 copies. Of the 1.2 million different titles sold in the US in 2004, only two per cent sold more than 5,000 copies. In 2007, the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS) revealed that the average UK author earned £16,000, 33 per cent below the national average wage. Strip out the top 10 per cent of authors, and a writer’s average annual income falls to £4,000.
The record for the world’s slowest-selling book is held by the Oxford University Press’s translation of the New Testament from Coptic into Latin. Five hundred copies were printed in 1716; the last one was snapped up in 1907. Books have been printed in Oxford since 1478, but the first one printed there – an analysis of the Apostles’ Creed – had a misprint on the first page: it was dated 1468 not 1478.
In the 16th century, the world’s bestselling book was not the Bible but Erasmus’s handbook on good manners for children, De Civilitate Morum Puerilium Libellus. Written in Latin in Freiburg in 1530, it has run to 130 editions over 300 years. It was translated into 22 languages within a decade of publication.
Books are a uniquely portable magic.
Carolyn Keene, author of The Nancy Drew Mysteries, didn’t exist. The name was a front for a group of ghostwriters who published the books from 1920 until 2003. To convince children Carolyn was real they also invented pseudonyms for 'secretaries' and 'assistants' to reply to letters on her behalf.
Katie Price’s books come about after she talks through the stories with her ghostwriter who then writes them out. Her second novel Crystal outsold all six books on the 2007 Booker shortlist combined.
John Prescott’s autobiography was written by Hunter Davies, who also ghosted books for Gazza and Wayne Rooney. Hunter Davies Ted Sorensen, JFK’s speechwriter, did most of the work on Profiles in Courage. He also penned the line ‘Ask not what your country can do for you’. Ronald Reagan said of his own autobiography 'I hear it’s a terrific book. One of these days I’m going to read it myself.'
Everything we have from Socrates was actually written by Plato (with commentary from Xenophon, Aristotle, and Aristophanes), and Mozart ghosted a lot of music for wealthy patrons.
Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.
Boghandler is Danish for ‘bookseller’.
The Bible is the most shoplifted book in the USA.
A Tintin book is bought by someone somewhere in the world every seven seconds.
In Latin, a glutinator was a bookbinder.
The average British home contains 138 books but less than half of them have been read.