CCM Librarian Mark Palkovic Owns The World's Smallest Book
Date: Oct. 25, 2002
By: Dawn Fuller
Phone: (513) 556-1823
Photos by Dawn Fuller and Dottie Stover
Mark Palkovic, head librarian for the College-Conservatory of Music Library, owns a prized possession that's bringing him world fame. Guinness World Records has confirmed that Palkovic is the owner of the smallest book in the world. Palkovic's book, Chekhov's Chameleon, measures just .9 by .9 millimeters, not much larger than a grain of salt. Amazingly, this miniscule book has 30 pages and three color illustrations. The print cannot be read by the naked eye, but Palkovic keeps another larger copy of the book, still measuring just a tiny 2 by 1.8 centimeters, nearby.
Palkovic now has a certificate of authenticity from Guinness, respected worldwide for its verification of world records. He was also honored at the Miniature Book Society Grand Conclave that was held in Covington in October.
"There are only 100 of these books that were published," says Palkovic. "Fifty were published in English (Palkovic has the English version) and 50 in Russian. I have copy number 16 of the English version."
Palkovic is treasurer of the Miniature Book Society, an international group founded in Ohio in 1983. The North Avondale resident's fascination with miniature books began back in 1979 when he worked as a cataloguer at Auburn University Library in Alabama. "I came into work one morning, and there was this little pink thing laying on the floor. I thought it was an eraser. When I went to pick it up, I saw it was this tiny book and I just became fascinated with them."
Palkovic says a nearby dollhouse shop carried miniature books, many of which were published by Mosaic Press in Cincinnati. He became friends with Mosaic Press proprietor Miriam Irwin when he moved to Cincinnati in 1981. He even wrote the text for a miniature book, titled Musical Boxes, published by Mosaic Press in 1983.
Miniature books can range in price from a 10-cent gumball machine copy to the valuable books that are trimmed in gold and bound in leather. "I have a beautiful Russian book that's partly bound in leather and partly bound in fish skin.
"Miniature books appeal in two areas for collectors," Palkovic explains, "both as art objects and for their intellectual content. The thing that's appealing to me is that a miniature book is a very personal thing to collect. You must handle them to appreciate them."
He adds that even the cheap gumball miniature books can grow in value as they grow in age. Palkovic says he recently purchased a couple of books that had once been the prize in a Cracker Jack box. "They're titled, Hello, 1980, and they were printed in the early 70s, and they have stories about how advanced we would be in 1980. One of the things mentioned is that a special powder would be created to keep you from burning your food. When you burn your fried eggs, you just sprinkle on the powder, and they aren't burned anymore."
As for the tiniest book in the world, Palkovic does not just let it sit in its decorative collector's box. Even though it's as small as a little grain of salt, he has to take it out and look at the book, bound in gold and silk. "If you ever get a miniature book, you will never lose it," he says. "You may not be able to find it for awhile, but you'll come across it again. You just tend to put it somewhere safe because it's a treasured little thing."
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