Records are made to be broken. They inspire competition and thus engender ever greater achievements. The international book scene is no exception. An Australian publishing house, Millennium House in North Narrabeen (New South Wales), recently unveiled the biggest and heaviest atlas ever produced, measuring 1.8 x 1.4m (70.86 x 55.1in) and weighing in at 150kg (over 330lbs). Titled Earth Platinum, this monumental, leather-bound work was printed at the end of last year by Litorama div. Igap in Mazzo di Rho, near Milan. Fittingly, the limited edition of just 31 copies was produced on the world's biggest sheetfed offset press, a KBA Rapida 205 for a 1510 x 2050mm (59.45 x 80.70in) format.
Giant KBA Rapidas make spectacular books possible
This exceptional print job was awarded to an Italian printer following a worldwide selection procedure. This is hardly surprising: Italian book printers enjoy a global reputation and this is not the first time that they have hit the headlines. In 2003, when Taschen-Verlag published the massive Greatest of all Time - a biography of boxing champion Muhammad Ali to celebrate his 70th birthday, it was printed by Arti Grafiche Leva (Sesto S. Giovanni) and Canale (Turin) on KBA Rapida 162 large-format presses and bound by Legatoria LEM.
Record for generations
Acclaimed by the international press at the time as the most gigantic book in the history of literary culture, this mammoth work is surpassed by the Earth Platinum world atlas both optically and in terms of the technological challenges entailed. With a surface area of 2.52m² (27ft²), Earth Platinum is sure of a place in the Guinness Book of Records. The weight and dimensions of this exquisite reference book break a record for atlases that dates back to the Klencke Atlas of 1660. The only one of its kind, this can still be viewed today in the Antiquarian Mapping Division of the British Library in London.
Millennium House, creator of award-winning products
Millennium House, which started up seven years ago in Sydney, specialises in the production of exclusive books, and soon established a high-profile image in the international book industry thanks to the outstanding design and quality of its exceptional creations. Since producing its first world atlas, Earth Blue, in 2008, Millennium House has carried off countless cartographic awards: IMTA Best Book Award 2008, 2009, 2010, Best World Atlas International Cartographic Conference 2009, IMTA Asia-Pacific Best Overall Award 2010. Earth Platinumcontinues the company's success story.
The main objective in creating Earth Platinum was to provide a cartographic record as a legacy for future generations, depicting the world in precise detail at the time of publication.
Labouring for absolute perfection
In carrying out this ambitious undertaking Millennium House employed the very best processes at every stage of production to ensure quality excellence. 24 photographers, 88 cartographers and geographers plus a host of computer specialists from all over the world set about fashioning this unique work with meticulous care and precision. Earth Platinum has a selling price of $100,000.
The quality and detail demanded in the production of the book represented a challenge which was further intensified by its huge dimensions. When reproducing the sumptuous photos the focus was on precision and the creation of 3D-like effects. While a short print run like this would normally make digital printing the preferred choice, quality specs meant that offset was the only possible process. Of the 26 offset printers throughout the world that were screened in the selection procedure, KBA user Litorama div. Igap was the final choice. The book was finished and bound by Sunflower Bindery in Hong Kong, which created the desired optical impact and ensured vital durability using traditional skills.
Expertise wins the day
Litorama div. Igap in Mazzo di Rho near Milan was established in 1881 as Impresa Generale Affissioni e Pubblicità (IGAP) and is the oldest, largest and most successful poster printer in Italy. In December 2004 it became part of the Litorama group, whose activities embrace digital, sheetfed and web offset printing plus finishing, and which has four production plants in Milan and Rome.
Litorama installed two superlarge-format KBA Rapida 205 presses seven years ago, before it adopted its present name. The first modern presses for this format in Italy, they redefined the print quality and productivity benchmarks at this old-established firm.
Quality and performance safeguard advances
Litorama div. Igap is a popular choice among industrial enterprises, retailers and publishers for exquisite printed products of all kinds. Its highly discerning customers include the fashion industry, which is renowned for its outlandish campaigns.
KBA's superlarge-format Rapidas have a maximum rated output of 9,000sph, can handle substrates weighing 90 to 600gsm (50lb to 64pt) and are used for jobs demanding a superior quality. The five-colour press, whose array of extras includes IR and UV dryers, can apply either conventional coatings or hybrid inks plus UV coatings. Boasting automatic plate changing, an online link to pre-press, ErgoTronic ACR automatic registration, DensiTronic Professional quality management and EES (Emission Extraction System), the Rapida 205 combines fast makereadies with exceptional production flexibility.
Outstanding performance, awesome technology
During a visit to Litorama div. Igap in Mazzo di Rho to see how work was progressing, Millennium Earth managing director Gordon Cheers expressed his admiration of management and press operators: “The print quality delivered by the KBA Rapida 205 is fantastic. I don't know how we would have produced Earth Platinumwithout this awesome machine. We at Millennium House are working on the production of another extraordinary book and hope to collaborate with KBA once again to bring it to completion.”