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A book with 90,000 authors

Wikipedia makes a bold claim that it will make history in print publishing by creating a book with the most credited authors ever. (From The New York Times)

Among the unlikelier announcements made at Wikipedia's conference in Alexandria, Egypt, was the bold claim on Friday that the online encyclopedia was about to make history in print publishing: creating the book with the most credited individual authors ever--about 90,000.

The book with so many authors is the product of an unusual alliance ? a single-volume encyclopedia produced by the German publisher Bertelsmann from the 25,000 most popular articles on German Wikipedia. The volume will have very short articles, no more than a few paragraphs at most, and include photos and illustrations.

The One-Volume Wikipedia Encyclopedia is set to go on sale in September for 19.95 euros (almost $32), and a sample few pages for the letter K were floating around the conference.

The Unabomber, Theodore Kaczynski, was in there, as well as a longish item on kaffee (coffee) and a short sentence on the painter Frida Kahlo.

According to the German Wikipedian who has been working on the arrangement with Bertelsmann, there are proof pages that list, tightly, anyone who could be construed to have contributed to any of the articles that have been condensed into the volume.

That Wikipedian, Mathias Schindler, said the credits page runs 27 pages "in a dense layout--it's a page full of names, separated by commas." "I was able to spot my name within half a minute," Schindler said. "And I was able to read it without any auxiliary devices."

Schindler said the publisher was taking the safest route to meet the terms of the license that governs Wikipedia material by being sure to credit the authors and Wikipedia. For using the Wikipedia name in the title, Bertelsmann will pay 1 euro per copy. The initial press run is supposed to be 20,000.

Bertelsmann did not respond to an e-mail message requesting comment.