I recently had the opportunity to speak with Gordon Cheers of Millennium House and managed to put together a comprehensive background and details about his upsoming release of Easrth Platinum a book of HUGE proportions. Here are twelve brief facts about Earth Platinum:
1. Earth Platinum is 6ft by 4.5 ft
2. Earth Platinum weighs 330 pounds
3. Earth Platinum retails for $100,000USA
4. Earth Platinum has 128 pages
5. Earth Platinum has detailed maps and full-color photo spreads
6. 24 Earth Platinum images are made from stitching together as many as 1,000 individual photos, the largest has 12,000 photos joined together
7. Earth Platinum took over four years to finish
8. 100 cartographers, geographers, and editors working on Earth Platinum
9. Only 31 copies of Earth Platinum will ever be published
10. Each of them is numbered
11. About half of them are still available for purchase
12. Earth Platinum delivers mid May
The following has been provided to me by Mr. Cheers and I will publish it in two blog posts (each of considerable length). The first is background on the new Limited Edition book and the second blog post will cover details about Earth Platinum. Gordon Cheers is a pleasant, knowledgeable professional therefore, I will post his interesting tale as he told it:
“I have been asked the following questions by the public and at a book fair; below are my answers.
A brief description of Earth Platinum
Earth Platinum is the world’s largest atlas, and contains maps, text and photos. The maps are the largest scale of any world atlas on a single page, many of the images are so large they take up a wall of 6 feet x 9 feet.
When will Earth Platinum published?
Earth Platinum is expected to be published mid May 2012.
How much did the entire project cost?
Millennium House has spent over US$1 million in producing the mapping required for Earth Platinum.
How many pages? What is the weigh? How many photographs and maps?
There are 128 pages in Earth Platinum, and the weight of the book is 150 kilograms, with over 30 large photographs, 61 pages of maps.
How long did it take? How many people were involved in the work?
I had the idea over 25 years ago. We have been working on the mapping involved in Earth Platinum for over 4 years. If you added up all the hours of work, it would take one person over 60 years to complete. Fortunately for us we have had over 70 people working on the book.
Who was your biggest support during the days before the dream turned into reality?
Our publisher Janet Parker has been living this project for over 3 years, without her help it would not have been possible.
In this information age, when so much is available on the Internet, why is there a market for an atlas, and at such a cost.
The amount of data we have is so large that we needed to produce a book of this size to do the material justice. Some islands are now seen for the first time at a reasonable size in relation to their nearest continent. It’s not always easy to get a sense of scale of our planet, this is the closest a book can go to achieve this. This is the closest any of us who are not astronauts can get to obtain a feeling of how the whole world would look from space. Earth Platinum will prove that a printed book, an Atlas can still be an important work if it provides a unique experience.
It is also important that we have a record of our time (2012), and if this record can inspire individuals to travel and marvel of at our world then we have achieved what we wanted. For Museums and Libraries we believe Earth Platinum would provide the “anchor of an exhibition” of the worlds best mapping. Along side this atlas, visitors could also see the historical mapping that Museums and Libraries have been acquiring for years that relate to their particular country.
Apart from the maps, we also believe that Earth Platinum is a work of art, the way the images of our world are seen for the first time at this large detailed size. The images we’re using are so detailed, each image is made up of up to 1,000 photos. The image of the Shanghai skyline is made up of 12,000 photos and is the largest photo in the world.
People, who have stood near the double page image of Machu Picchu and have traveled there, have said to me, it’s like being back there again — “you can almost feel and touch the mountain”. Not bad for an image 6 feet x 9 feet long. Earth Platinum will have many images like Machu Picchu.This magnificent book combines maps, images and information in a stunning presentation.
What was the inspiration to publish the world’s largest atlas?
Over 25 years ago, when working for a publisher, I published a large guide to Australia full of maps. I mentioned to my boss that it would be great to produce the same sort of book on the whole world. My boss at the time said it would be too expensive—as did the next 3 bosses I had in publishing. So 6 years ago I set up my own company to produce Earth Blue and Earth Gold and from there went on to produce Earth Platinum.
How much is Earth Platinum?
US$100,000 per copy. It is not just pitched to the wealthy.
Earth Platinum is being considered by private, corporate and institutional purchasers.
What has been the response by those who have seen the book?
The many people, who came to see the prototype on display at Frankfurt Book fair, were so amazed and impressed by Earth Platinum. They wanted to look at every page, and search for their hometown before having photographs taken with the book to show to family and friends. Their enthusiasm for the project made me realize just how popular maps remain, regardless of any advances in electronic availability.
Why produce the biggest book on earth (is it the biggest book?)
We believe Earth Platinum will be the biggest book published (i.e. it has a cover, pages, an index, there is more than one printed, and is readily available for sale). Anyway, it is certainly the largest atlas ever printed or published.
Why will it be the last big atlas ever printed?
Many people are using GPS devices instead of road atlases and maps to move around, many travelers download the map of the area they want, before they travel. All this means that less maps and atlases are being printed, fewer cartographers are being trained, most mainstream publishers have sold off their cartography departments. Two years ago we published our “smaller” atlas, Earth Blue (24 inches x 18 inches), it won all the cartographic awards—no publisher has since been able to match its size or detail. The last big atlas close to Earth Platinum was produced over 350 years ago in black and white—it’s now priceless. The world was viewed a lot differently then. It may take another 350 years before anyone challenges our atlas. However, my feeling is it will never happen. Earth Platinum will become a priceless piece of art work/historical document representing our world today.
Why 31 copies?
We have looked at the market, and our costs—we want Earth Platinum to be cherished and preserved, and we feel producing 31 copies should ensure this.
Any sold yet?
We have sold a number of copies already and have interest in many, but only one in 6 countries will ever have a copy of Earth Platinum.
Will there be a small version?
We have already produced smaller atlases in the Earth series such as Earth Blue selling for $5,800. If we produced a smaller version of Earth Platinum, we would need to reduce the detail substantially and then increase the font size, otherwise it would not be readable. It would not be the same book. Detailed mapping is not like a photo; maps cannot go down smaller and smaller because they become unreadable. Earth Platinum is large because it needs to be.
Can students benefit from the atlas?
Earth Platinum will be an astonishing publication that we hope will inspire travelers and students. By using detailed hill shading and colored relief, the world and its terrain makes more sense. Consider crossing the Himalayas—which looks daunting when you see the height of the mountains and the extent of ranges. These ranges are less obvious on previous maps and atlases. Also less obvious as was the way many national borders follow rivers or mountain ranges.
How difficult was it to get experts working on it to compile the project?
Once we started to engage geography professors and prominent cartographers in one country, they seemed to know others around the world and in a very short time we had every corner of the globe covered, even the oceans. Not such a daunting task with a team of over 60 professionals.
Do you think that the cost of production will be covered by sales?
Our aim in producing Earth Platinum is to create a benchmark in cartography and a legacy for future generations. It was never meant to make lots of money—my old bosses were right; it is a very expensive exercise and it will not make money—but it will be a legacy. Producing just 31 copies will, ensure Earth Platinum is cherished for decades to come.
Be sure to look for the second post on this remarkable book… Coming soon –
Millennium House can be reached Here – http://www.millenniumhouse.com.au/index.html