BBC Future

60 Second Idea

‘Create edible books to tackle world hunger’

Each week a global thinker from the worlds of philosophy, science, psychology or the arts is given a minute to put forward a radical, inspiring or controversial idea – no matter how improbable – that they believe would change the world.

This week cultural theorist Peter Swirski argues that his idea will literally provide food for thought.

My idea to change the world is very simple. So simple, in fact, that it can be summarised in just two words: edible books.

In other words, with the help of future technology, I would like to produce delicious books that taste like cakes, or steak, or soup, or sushi, or anything else you might desire to eat. Imagine a world where you can read a book and then eat every single page of it and eat it with relish and gusto. The phrase “food for thought”, for example, would become a reality in the best way possible. You could literally fight illiteracy and world hunger at the same time.

Writers, publishers and chefs would look for unique combinations of literary and culinary values that would make a best-seller and a best-eater. I would imagine the Complete Works of Shakespeare would be extremely popular, both for the artistic value and for the fact that being rather hefty, the whole family could feast on them for a while.

Of course the only choice facing a consumer who would face an edible book would be: “to eat or not to eat”.

You can listen to Peter discuss his idea with robotics expert Manuela Veloso and internet scientist Luis von Ahn in more detail on the BBC World Service programme The Forum, where you can also download more 60-second ideas.

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