When the first Guinness World Records book was published in 1955, the Empire State Building was the tallest structure on the planet, the world’s most expensive bottle of wine cost about $50 and Miley Cyrus’s birth was 37 years away.
A lot has changed in the book’s 60th edition, which hit shelves on Sept. 8.
For instance, Dubai’s Burj Khalifa now dwarfs the Empire State Building by more than 1,400 feet, a bottle of Chateau Cheval Blanc recently sold for $309,000 at auction and Cyrus, 21, is now a record holder herself.
“This is not your typical Guinness World Records book,” said Guinness spokesman Stuart Claxton about the 2015 edition. “There are retrospectives comparing records that have been broken over the decades.”
Contained inside are 200 separate record categories, including several that wouldn’t have been possible 10 years ago.
“There’s a whole section on the Internet, from the most Facebook likes to the most retweeted message,” Claxton explained. Several recent record breakers include Shakira, who is the world’s most liked person on Facebook with 103.6 million likes as of today and Metallica became the first musical act to perform on every continent. Meanwhile, Cyrus was named the most searched-for female pop star of 2013, based on Google data.
First musical act to perform on every continent - @Metallica rock their way into #gwr60http://t.co/wdVymqwfj4pic.twitter.com/by4kHLFdtu
— GuinnessWorldRecords (@GWR) September 4, 2014
The new book also includes an augmented reality feature that Claxton said makes several records “come to life,” with the aid of a free downloadable app. Readers will be able to compare their own stature to the world’s tallest man, Robert Wadlow, whose height of 8 feet 11 inches hasn’t been matched since his appearance in the initial Guinness World Records book.
If you’re wondering why Guinness World Records Ltd. continues to print a hard copy of the record book when 2013 Pew Internet Research Center data showed only 67 percent of readers bother with traditional books anymore—Claxton said it’s all about numbers.
“With the publishing industry going digital, the effect has been that because there are fewer printed books out there, we’ve seen ours actually rise in the rankings,” he said, adding that the company unsuccessfully tried a switch to digital. “We’ve also attempted to release an e-book version but it’s curious because it does not have the uptick that the book has.”
According to Guinness, they’ve printed approximately 3,079 metric tons worth of books this year. The 2015 edition is available in 20 languages in over 100 countries. Claxton estimates they will sell between 3 to 4 million copies—perhaps that’s due to the public’s collective nostalgia.
“There is an iconic feel about the book,” Claxton said. “When people think of it, they seem to think of a hardcopy book rather than something that will just fit in their phone; it is sort of a reference book.”
Ultimately, Claxton said the company hopes their newest book will add to the approximately 50,000 inquiries they receive annually from potential record breakers.
Wonder which records have been standing since the first Guinness World Records book in 1955? See this infographic for a few that have remain untouched:
Clint Davis is a writer for the E.W. Scripps National Desk. Follow him on Twitter @MrClintDavis.