Rumour has it that the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C. (USA) is preparing to close its doors—shut down—for good.1 The American people can thank a savvy young intern, barely out of university, who recently discovered a clever money-saving technique that somehow slipped by all previous librarians.
So what is this discovery which makes the Folger Shakespeare Library instantly obsolete? The mind-blowing truth, he found, is that the entire works of Shakespeare actually fit in one book—a single volume (leather-bound or otherwise)—plays and sonnets and all.
The intern, Morris Steveney, explains:
“I started at the Folger Library just a couple of months ago, and looking over all these stacks—books upon books upon books—of Shakespeare’s works, I thought: “why not try to condense things a little?” So I started counting the pages in Shakespeare’s plays, keeping track in a little notebook I kept in my pocket. At night I’d go home and enter the numbers into my computer; I wrote a program to add them up. Then I measured the thickness of an Average Sheet of Paper and determined you could actually print all these works in one book. The sonnets are only one page each, so that’s easy, but no one seemed to realize [sic] that the plays would fit.”
Steveney took the results of his research to his boss, Mr. Banks, who at first seemed incredulous. “How could we have missed this the last 500 years?” was his dumbfounded response. And yet, he checked the numbers and, sure enough, saw that Steveney was right.
Soon they made a prototype using a rented 3D printer and presented the result at a board meeting. The decision was then made to print a real book of The Complete Works of Shakespeare, tear down the library, and replace it with a single shelf (with the single book) for anyone who wants to study the works of Mr. William Shakespeare.
The extra space left after tearing down the building will be converted into a coffee shop where you can pay $5 for a cup of caffeine, and a playground for children, which, as Shakespeare himself would have said, “is the best form of edumacation.”
- I suppose it could be “for bad,” if you’re one of those people who likes to read the works of Shakespeare on a regular basis. ↩