At the end of The Book of Eli,

Eli and Solara reach Alcatraz, Eli recites the book, and he dies. To avoid spoilers in the title of the question, I'm calling the period from when Eli reached the island until Solara left for home the "end period" of the movie. I think one week is a hard lower limit for just reciting the book, assuming a normal speaking rate, eight hours a day for doing normal human things other than reciting text, and an upper limit of eight hundred thousand words in the book. But Solara could have stayed on the island much longer and Eli could have survived the bullet wound and died later for another reason.

How long was this "end period"? Evidence from the film or from the screenplay/story author would be an acceptable basis for an answer.

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    I have the audible version of the King James Bible, and it clocks in at around 88 hours. That would require 11 eight hour days. – Steven Burnap Feb 2 '13 at 4:13
  • @StevenBurnap How long it takes to say is not directly relevant to how long it takes to write! I did some further investigation on this that agrees not with any of my first answer (years - wildly inaccurate), Kyle's comment 'about a week' (from memory) and your of '11 days'. It seems you are working on the basis of an 8 hour day while Kyle and I were both presuming 16, which still makes your '5.5 days at 16 hours a day' estimate close to that of Kyle's estimate. My revised estimate is 4.14 weeks based on a 16 hr day, 6 days per week. Or 'around a month'. Whether that changes anything .. – Andrew Thompson Feb 2 '13 at 11:00
  • .. in relation to the answer itself is ambiguous at this point, but let's at least nut out first how long that period was. It was longer than 11 days, even at 16 hours a day. – Andrew Thompson Feb 2 '13 at 11:02
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    The script on IMSDB doesn't give any clues, but the IMDB trivia section estimates the writing to take 66 days, how long Solara stays after that isn't specified. – SteB Mar 16 '13 at 21:25
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    @StevenBurnap - 11 eight hour days to listen* but you can only write 30-40WPM. Even putting in 12 hour days you're still talking weeks or months to transcribe every word – Valorum Apr 12 '14 at 18:37

The script for "Book of Eli" doesn't really give much information on the subject, merely referring to the period as;

Some considerable time later.

Great stacks of paper have been filled with Lombardi's handwriting.
Lombardi's pen races across the paper, struggling to keep up with Eli's recitation.

Looking at the subject logically though, we can start to make some assumptions

1) There are 774,000 words in the two testaments of the bible. We see them type-setting the words "King James" at the end of the film so we can be pretty sure that this is the version they're referring to.

2) She appears to be writing longhand which means that her writing speed is unlikely to be above 30-35WPM. Writing each word would take over 400 hours of work unless they're cutting the book down heavily. Some versions of the bible have clocked in at less than half the size.

3) It explicitly says that she's struggling to keep up with his recitation so it's fairly likely that she's only catching around one word in every two or three words that he says. She's basically abridging as she goes.

4) There are spoken word versions of the bible available that have a run-time of 80 hours. Any attempt to transcribe them verbatim would be impossible unless you knew shorthand.

All of which leads me to the conclusion that any attempt to recreate the bible from scratch makes very little sense unless you're planning to transcribe for nearly 30-40 days, edit for another 100+ days and typeset for at least 100 days or more.

  • Well reasoned. It didn't occur to me to fold in the time to produce the finished book, which would greatly increase the amount of time needed. In that case Eli must have recovered from the wound but died anyway once he knew he'd completed his task. – Kyle Jones Apr 5 '14 at 22:31
  • Even 30-40 days is awfully generous. I'm assuming she can write continuously for 16 hours a day and never suffers hand-cramp. – Valorum Apr 5 '14 at 22:37

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