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One Piece, the longest single-volume book in the world ever goes on sale – and is impossible to read



One Piece the longest single volume book in the world ever goes on sale and is impossible to read

The longest book ever — a manga volume beating 21,450 pages and 37.5 pounds — is here, and we have an artist to thank for it. A limited-edition single volume of the long-running manga One Piece is being charged as the longest book in existence.

ONEPIECE, a hybrid publishing stunt and reasonable art project from Ilan Manouach, appropriates each digitally released panel of the long-running Japanese comic One Piece into a single epic object intended to be seen as sculpture instead of reading conventionally.

A gigantic single-volume edition of One Piece spreading over 21,450 pages is charged as the longest book ever made. The manga volume is totally unreadable and goes for €1,900 (₹150,000) and there are just fifty of them made.

At 21,450 pages, it is physically impossible to read, making it to a lesser extent a book and all the more a sculpture.

The artist’s Brussels-based nonprofit Echo Chamber supported the ONEPIECE release, which comes around 25 years after author Eiichiro Oda started publishing the swashbuckling serial. The subsequent volume’s 31.5-inch spine features full-color illustrations of scenes from the saga and the story’s protagonist, Luffy D. Monkey.

At €1,900 ($1,893), the edition of 50 signed and numbered copies sold out within days of its September 7 drop through French publisher JBE Books. The launch came only months after Guinness delegated Oda’s One Piece the most profoundly coursed comic in existence, having sold more than half a billion copies.

Priced at €1,900 (£1,640), the book isn’t credited to Eiichiro Oda, the writer, and artist behind One Piece, which has been serialized in the Japanese magazine Shōnen Jump every week beginning around 1997. It is being sold rather as the work of Ilan Manouach, the multidisciplinary artist who has designed the limited edition volume, which is named ONEPIECE.

Manouach printed out the Japanese digital edition of One Piece and bound it together, treating the comic not as a book but rather as “sculptural material”, as indicated by the book/artwork’s French publisher JBE.

A representative for JBE said that ONEPIECE is an “unreadable sculpture that takes the shape of a book – the largest one to date in page numbers and spine width – that materializes the ecosystem of online dissemination of comics.” Anything that it is classed as there seems to be a market for ONEPIECE – the limited edition run of 50 copies sold out within days of its release on 7 September.

Manouach’s piece came about in light of the “profusion of available online content and the rampant digitization of the comics industry” which “challenges the state-of-the-art of comics craftsmanship”, as per his publisher. “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’.”

JBE likewise depicted comics as “dual objects”, having a “use value” for readers and an “exchange value” for collectors. In making a book you can’t read, Manouach clearly wanted to feature how comics exist as both commodity and literature. It’s a theory that the comics industry itself has previously embraced — one organization, CGC, offers a service where it grades clients’ comics and encases them in protective plastic.

When inquired as to whether Eiichiro Oda had been involved or counseled about the formation of ONEPIECE, and on the off chance that there were any copyright considerations, JBE’s representative 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.” There could be no infringement of copyright, the publisher believes, because reading the book is physically impossible.

Keita Murano, a member of the international rights staff at Shueisha, the Japanese publisher of Oda’s manga, affirmed that his organization had not been counseled about the JBE book. He said: “The product you mentioned is not official. We don’t permit them. Our licensee in France which publishes One Piece is the publisher Glénat.”

Eiichiro Oda may not be getting any royalties from the publication of ONEPIECE, however, his comic series have previously made him the richest manga creator of all time, with an estimated net worth of around $200m. His original One Piece manga is listed by the Guinness Book of Records as having the most copies published for a similar comic book series by a single writer, with more than 416m copies printed to date.

The sale of the ONEPIECE sculpture isn’t the first time that the art world has made lots of money from the comics world – pop artist Roy Lichtenstein built a career on it, with his monumental canvases copied directly from existing comics: Whaam! (1963), lifted from a panel in DC’s All-American Men of War from the earlier year, while Sleeping Girl – which last sold for $44.8m 10 years ago – depending on an illustration from one more DC comic book, in issue 105 of Girls’ Romances.

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