Bring Your Questions for the Guinness Book of World Records Editor

Craig GlendayCraig Glenday with Lucky Diamond Rich, the most tattooed person. (c) Guinness World Records.

As a kid, not only did I love The Guinness Book of World Records but I was dead set on getting into the book myself. The record: world’s longest gum-wrapper chain.

I don’t remember how it got started, but somehow Judy Munson (the older sister of a close friend) and I started making the chain and before long, everyone in the whole school was giving us their gum wrappers. We carried the thing around in a tattered paper grocery bag. We were careful to unfurl it only rarely for measurement, since it was pretty fragile. But we knew there couldn’t have been a longer one in the world.

As it turned out, Guinness World Records wasn’t interested in our gum-wrapper chain. I can’t recall the details of their rejection, but it had something to do with the fact that our record was simply too trivial. Oh well. Still, I wouldn’t have traded the pursuit for anything. I’d encourage every kid in the world, in fact, to try to set some kind of world record, even if it never makes it into Guinness World Records.

This brings us to Craig Glenday, a Scot who has held many jobs, including food critic and medical photographer — but only his current occupation could spark this diary entry:

In the last month alone, I’ve overseen the printing of the 2009 book cover in Barcelona, got drunk with the world’s shortest man in Inner Mongolia, hung out with (the band) Fall Out Boy in Patagonia, and had tea with veteran screen villain Christopher Lee (most credited screen actor) in London. All this while trying to edit the book…

As editor-in-chief of the Guinness Book of World Records, Craig thinks it’s a fundamental part of humanity to push yourself ever further because, as he puts it, “Without knowing the extremities, it is impossible to know where you stand.”

Craig also holds his own Guinness World Record for the most radio interviews in 12 hours (53). The Book, meanwhile, is the best-selling copyrighted book in history, and the Gamer’s Edition recently made headlines by declaring Grand Theft Auto IV “the biggest entertainment release of all time.”

Over the years, safety concerns — and the threat of litigation — have led Guinness World Records to eliminate or rewrite some extreme records, including the consumption of liquor and beer, but not bicycles. Also eliminated: chain letters, which means that this one is almost surely a hoax.

Craig enthusiastically awaits your questions, so fire away. As with past Q&A’s, we’ll post his answers here in short time.

Addendum: Glenday answers your questions here.


John P

Aside from having your name in the book, are there any other benefits to being a record holder?

Ben

What record has been broken the most?
What percent of records in the book are by people who sought to be in the book versus records the book sought out to include?

Naim

What are the worst attempts at getting into the Guinness Book of World Records?

Derek

Are there many reluctant record-setters, or is nearly everyone pleased to acquire a certain amount of fame by getting into the Guinness Book of World Records?

Naim

What are your favorite types of records to learn about, and why?

Haris

What's the definitive criteria to edtablish which record is accepted and which is not?

frankenduf

there's a movie "King of Kong" which exposes the politics behind record setting fame- at the extremes of hardcore record chasing, do you think it's the personal challenge, or the desire to beat the other guy that drives record chasers?

a non-world record holder

What record(s) would you like to see attempted?
What record(s) do you think will never be broken?
What was the best attempt to fraudulently get a record in the book?

Mike

Do you get a wide range of people attempting to get into the book with a particular record or is the same people who keep attempting different records?

Mike

Of the records for which you still accept entries, which in your opinion is the most dangerous to attempt?

Of the records for which you no longer accept entries, which is the most dangerous?

WholeMealOfFood

Roughly how many records are broken/created each year, and how has this number trended over time?

Craig

What was the hardest record for you to verify?

Jeff

How often are records attempted/broken by someone who set out to set it/break it rather than by accident or providence?

Witty Nickname

How many beers does it take to get the world's shortest man drunk?

Andrew

Is there any other revenue-generating part of your business besides book sales?

Prashant

1.Which country has the most # of records?
2.Which country has the most # of records population-wise?
3.How do you elect/select the judges to verify the various records? Are they divided into categories?

John

What tips do you have for someone hoping to make it into the book?

Kyle

Did you by any chance watch the South Park episode which refers to the record for largest poop and the Guinness Book of World Records having to direct them to another institution ? It made some relevant points on what should and shouldn't constitute a record.

Michael Lusk

Is Dubner running out of ideas? What on earth does the Guiness Book of world records have to do with the premise of Freakonomics; that is, using economic research to come to interesting insights?

thasleem

1. what is the longest standing record (all categories)?
2. what was the first ever record?