Skip to main content

10 Unusual Printing Facts That You’ve Never Heard Of

Printing has become a part of our daily lives. We use them for printing our most cherished photos, reports to keep our clients happy, and term papers that we stayed up all night writing. Today’s post highlights 10 of the coolest, most interesting facts about printers, and how they’ve changed and are continuing to alter our world.

  1. World’s Smallest Printed Book: A 22 page Japanese book containing pictures of the flowers of the four seasons holds a Guinness World Book of Records entry. It may be a fast read, but we don’t advise you doing so without a magnifying glass–unless you want to strain your eyes–because this is no ordinary book; it’s the world’s smallest printed book, 0.74 x 0.75 mm (0.0291 x 0.0295 in).

  2. Fastest Printed Postage Stamp: It took less than one hour to print a postage stamp in Schaan, Liechtenstein, and that included the time it took to vote on the stamp’s design. The stamp was printed as part of a commemorative event of the 100th anniversary of the country’s first ever stamp.

  3. Highest Initial Print Run For a Fiction Book: When J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books were published, they became more than just fiction–the franchise’s influence stretched beyond the literary realm and quickly became a pop-culture phenomenon. Its popularity is also evidenced by the number of print copies for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. The book had an initial print run of 12 million copies, making it the largest initial print run ever.

  4. Largest Printed Catalogue: Remember when catalogues were the premier way to shop? People would spend hours pouring over the glossy pages. In 2005, Aviall Services Inc. released a behemoth that would put even the thickest catalogue to shame. They released their ‘Aviall Product and Catalog Book’ on January 3, 2005. It has 2,656 pages, weighs 7.4 lb (3.4 kg) and is 7.1 cm (2.8 in) thick.

  5. Oldest Printing Publishing House: If you think most publishing houses like Random House and Penguin Group, have only been around for a couple of hundred years, think again. Cambridge University Press, the oldest printing and publishing house, has been around since 1537–it was started with the money from a royal charter granted by the infamous Henry VIII in 1534. It’s been operating non-stop since the first Press book was printed in 1584, publishing over 2,000 books and 150 journals a year across 200 countries around the globe.

  6. Oldest Mechanically Printed Book: The first mechanically printed book is arguably, but generally accepted to be, the Gutenberg Bible, printed in Mainz, Germany around the year 1455 by Johann Henne zum Gensfleisch zur Laden. However, some scholars debate that the Chinese beat him to the punch six or seven centuries prior.

  7. Fastest time to print 500 sheets by an office color desktop printer: If you own a printer, you know that searching for just the right one can take quite a bit of time. However, seeing the above fact in a printer’s specs might help to speed up your decision. The Hewlett-Packard Officejet Pro X551dw Printer was pitted against five other printers in the same model class across several manufacturers, to determine which one could print 500 pages the fastest. The HP Officejet Pro X Series printed 500 color sheets in a record seven minutes and 18 seconds.

  8. Edible Sushi: Chef Homaro Cantu, of Moto in Chicago, starting printing out delightful sushi entrees using a Canon i560 inkjet printer with edible ink in 2005. The son of an engineer, some of his customers have described him as a cross between a mad scientist and gourmet chef. Regardless their opinion, they find his imagination admirable–so much so that they’re willing to pay upwards of $240 for his experimental tasting menu.

  9. World’s most waste: Unfortunately, printers don’t just create information that helps us in our everyday lives; they create environmental waste as well. For example, did you know if the world’s discarded printer cartridges were stacked end-to-end in one year’s time, they would circle the earth over three times?.

  10. Expensive Ink: The retail cost of black printer ink is one of the most expensive liquids on the planet, far exceeding oil and even space shuttle fuel (on a per gallon basis). It costs over $2,700 per gallon!

Without the advances that presses and printers have made over the centuries, we would not be able to enjoy everyday objects that we take for granted like books and magazines. However, as evidenced by this list, printers have only begun to leave their mark on the future.