Cleveland Had The World's Largest Book. Then They Lost It.

Cleveland Had The World's Largest Book. Then They Lost It.

The largest book in the world, supposedly, sits in Dubai. It's called This is Muhammad and contains stories about the prophet, plus a million signatures from people who wanted to be part of a world record. It weighs more than a ton and takes up nearly 500 square feet. 

Dubai's pretty famous for setting records like that, purely for the headlines. But about a century or so ago, the title of biggest book belonged to the humble city of Cleveland.

In 1936, Cleveland was hosting a World's Fair called The Great Lakes Exposition. They collected visitors' signatures in a book they called The Golden Book of Cleveland. It didn't occupy quite as much space as today's record holder—only 35 square feet, so it didn't look as crazy as Dubai's, but it still took up as much floor space as a queen size bed. And it had 6,000 pages, more than ten times as many as Dubai's book. It aimed to collect four million signatures. The best way to compare two paper books' sizes is perhaps weight, and The Golden Book of Cleveland weighed more than two tons.

We can't share any photos of the book with you, though. In fact, no one knows where it is.

The fair said they were going to donate the book to the local historical society. But the society probably wouldn't have been so happy to receive the gift, which was hard to store, harder to preserve, and offered limited historical value. In 1977, one Cleveland librarian recalled being asked about the book on her first day on the job, but she had no idea where it was. 

In 2006, Cleveland Magazine tried to track the book down, but they found no record of what happened to it, not in libraries, or museums, or government offices. It's possible that the fair destroyed it when no one accepted their donation. However, even destroying it would have been a challenge. So, maybe instead they gave it away to the first Clevelander willing to haul it away in their truck. It might still be gathering mold in someone's garage. To find out for sure, we just need to search every home in Cleveland. 

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