The royal director decided to publish a volume of facts, intended to be sold to bartenders who could use it to settle pub arguments. The first Guinness Book of Records was published in August, 1955 with a plastic cover to protect it from beer stains. Despite skepticism from retailers, the volume became an instant hit. It reached bestseller status by Christmas the same year. Over a hundred million copies have been published worldwide in 25 languages. Over 3 million are still sold every year, the best-selling book under copyright of all time.
Times being what they are, listings are also available digitally. A website tells you how to compete for your own. But note that one of the original categories is no longer cited: "Uncontrolled Drinking." Current editor in chief, Craig Glenday, told the New York Times: “We’re not going to encourage that sort of thing today. That’s how people get hurt.”
Hats off to Sir Beaver and his prescient marketing move. But is it truly successful as branded content? Do consumers associate the purveyor of brew with best known arbiter of facts and factoids? I didn't until reminded of association by New York Times article. And Alan Wolk of the Toadstool blog observes that book's popularity is highest with kids too young to (legally) be target for Guinness. Still, selling millions of book objects these days is a feat to be marvelled at.