Numbers (Solution)

by Julian Gilbey

The puzzle is a list of binary numbers. These are EAN-13 barcodes, simply encoded as 0=white, 1=black (which is the standard encoding). This is hinted at by the larger numbers at the start, middle and end, which are the outer and centre guards in the barcode (and are longer than the other lines).

Decoding these gives the EAN-13s:

  • 9780452281882
  • 9780750012591
  • 9780449222904
  • 9783034607087
  • 9780881504200
  • 9780740777110

which are clearly ISBNs (because of the "978" prefix). Identifying the corresponding books leads to:

  • E / Matthew Beaumont
  • 53 1/2 things that changed the world, and some that didn't / David West
  • First, Do No Harm: The Dramatic Story of Real Doctors and Patients Making Impossible Choices at a Big-City Hospital / Lisa Belkin
  • Floor Plan Manual / Friederike Schneider
  • Reading the Forested Landscape: A Natural History of New England / Tom Wessels, Brian D. Cohen, Ann H. Zwinger
  • List Your Self / Ilene Segalove, Paul Bob Velick

and the first word of each title reads E 53 FIRST FLOOR READING LIST.

Going to E53-100 (the Dewey Library), one finds a "Reading List" posted on the window/door.

The answer to the Reading List part of the puzzle is given here. (This is to enable people to try the puzzle, even after Hunt is over!)

(Incidentally, the title "Numbers" obliquely refers to this being a puzzle about books, as in the "Book of Numbers".)