The Book

The Book

A Cover-to-cover Exploration of the Most Powerful Object of Our Time

Book - 2016
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Reveals how books and the materials that make them reflect the history of human civilization, tracing the development of writing, printing, illustrating, and binding to demonstrate the transition from cuneiform tablets and papyrus scrolls to the mass-distributed books of today.
"We may love books, but do we know what lies behind them? In The Book, Keith Houston reveals that the paper, ink, thread, glue, and board from which a book is made tell as rich a story as the words on its pages--of civilizations, empires, human ingenuity, and madness. In an invitingly tactile history of this 2,000-year-old medium, Houston follows the development of writing, printing, the art of illustrations, and binding to show how we have moved from cuneiform tablets and papyrus scrolls to the hardcovers and paperbacks of today. Sure to delight book lovers of all stripes with its lush, full-color illustrations, The Book gives us the momentous and surprising history behind humanity's most important--and universal--information technology."--Back cover.
Publisher: New York :, W.W. Norton & Company,, [2016]
Edition: First edition.
Copyright Date: ©2016
ISBN: 9780393244793
Branch Call Number: 002.09 HO
Characteristics: xvii, 428 pages : illustrations (some color) ; 22 cm


From the critics

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Mar 14, 2019

I really enjoyed it. It literally starts with the cover, which has call-outs identifying the parts of the cover (author, title, subtitle, spine, etc). These call-outs continue inside identifying other parts of the book such as gutter, footnote, drop cap and line art.

The book is divided into four parts that trace the history of paper, text, illustrations and the form of a book. This was full of information and Houston did a good job of condensing and explaining in an understandable way centuries of activity. This has a lot going for it: interesting information (did you know we still are not totally sure how the Egyptians made their papyrus and can't duplicate the quality they produced?), useless trivia (Charlemagne, who promoted scholarship in his empire, couldn't read or write) and new words to learn (hagiographer and pastiche were mine). It contains a good "further reading" list at the end if one wants to read more on the topic. Highly recommended for book lovers.

Oct 30, 2018

Very nicely produced volume (hardback), packed with interesting historical information. The author is not a polished writer, but this is a labor of love and it shows.

Jul 24, 2017

This is a history of the printed page, told with attention to detail and a dry wit (i.e. punny chapter titles). One particularly interesting element is the inclusion of designations for all of the standard concepts of modern printing (indent, drop cap, ornaments, etc.) where they appear in the text. Good for both the avid bibliophile and for someone who just happens to be curious and picks up this book.

Jul 18, 2017

Offbeat non-fiction book divided into page (papyrus, parchment to paper), text (printing), illustrations (silent monks complain of working conditions to woodblock) & form (tied, sewed to glued).
Big ew on one lovely hardcover example that have tanned human skin.
Who knew paper size wasn't standardized into Reagan when government paper same as letter sized paper?
Not surprised on some inventors got shafted by the rich & powerful.

Mar 30, 2017

I had too many books come in a the same time and because there were several people waiting for this one, I had to return it before I could do more than page through it. It is a gorgeous book with the set up in which each part of the book and cover are labeled was wonderful. I was never aware that each part of each of the pages that precede the narrative have a name and a specific place beyond the title, author name and publisher's info. I am anxious for my request to come around again.

Nov 02, 2016

A book for true geeks/nerds. The history of the book. I loved it!


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