Biggest book on world mission

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The Independent Online
THE WORLD'S biggest book - 4.7 yards high, 4.6 yards wide and weighing more than two tons - began the first stage yesterday of an epic round-the-world journey during which more than two million people are expected to write or draw in it.

It is called the World Book, and it made its debut in the Spanish city of Barcelona at the foot of the city's famed pedestrian promenade, the Ramblas.

The idea originated in Berlin, and it has taken about 50 people, a year of work and more than pounds 250,000 to get the project off the ground.

"Today, the book officially belongs to the whole world," Daniel Oehlmann, a German businessman and one of the project's founders, said at yesterday's presentation ceremony.

"We want this book to be written by all people, no matter what their culture or religion. We hope it will help to erase the borders between people everywhere. The book will reflect the languages and skin colours of a multitude of people.

"The objective is that it will help us along the path to the millennium and a world where there is solidarity and tolerance between all peoples, and where no one will have to suffer the ill effects of ignorance and intolerance."

The World Book will remain in Barcelona for three months, after which it will spend the same amount of time in Paris. Its proposed journey over five continents is still being negotiated, city by city, and among its possible stopovers will be New York City and at least one other US venue, said Mr Oehlmann.

If everything goes according to plan, the book will return to Barcelona for its last stop in 2004, when the city is planning to host Forum 2004, a world cultural forum.

"The book will unite feelings ranging from the most optimistic to the most pessimistic, the happiest to the saddest," said Mr Oehlmann.

"People are free to write or draw anything, whatever they want. Nothing is prohibited."