This is not a joke. PediaPress launched an Indiegogo campaign to print the entire English Wikipedia encyclopedia on around 1,000 books, representing more than a million pages. The startup printed the first volume to see how it would look — in it, you will find all the articles from “A” to “A76 motorway”.
More than 4 million articles from 20 million volunteers could end up in the printed edition of Wikipedia. But first, the company needs to raise $50,000. You can donate from $5 up to $1,000 to sponsor the work. If it succeeds, the books will be presented at the Wikimania Conference 2014 in London. After that, the books will be donated to a big public library.
As a reminder, PediaPress is an on-demand printing startup for Wikipedia articles. While it’s mostly unknown, you can find a link to create a book in the left column of Wikipedia. After compiling articles, you can order a printed book.
PediaPress CEO Eingestellt von Heiko writes in a blog post that a German user planned to print the entire German Wikipedia using the service. “After doing some back of the envelope calculations and exchanging emails, we mutually agreed to drop his plan,” von Heiko writes. “But the idea was born and stuck with us.”
But it doesn’t tell us why it’s a good idea. Printing Wikipedia is a way to celebrate the gigantic work of the Wikipedia community over the past years. If the company gets enough money, it even plans to go on tour with the printed Wikipedia edition. The project also let you visualize how big Wikipedia is compared to the Encyclopædia Britannica.
But the most obvious reason is probably simpler. This campaign is a great communication move for PediaPress. Now everyone will know that Wikipedia readers can handpick a few dozen Wikipedia articles and print a book. In other words, printing Wikipedia is a fun way to spread the word about PediaPress. And as PediaPress developer Konrad says in the Indiegogo video, “somebody has to do it.”