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The Book: A Cover-to-Cover Exploration of…
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The Book: A Cover-to-Cover Exploration of the Most Powerful Object of Our…

by Keith Houston

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Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
Fascinating, well-written, and nicely designed exploration into the varied histories of the main aspects of what makes a book, a book. Materials to write on (the march from papyrus to parchment to paper), the development of text (from hieroglyphics and cuneiform to mechanical and photo-mechanical typesetting machines), the parallel development of printing techniques as required for non-type elements such as illustrations (from woodcut via copper plate up to offset lithography) and the physical form of pages and bookbinding.

Of necessity, the author jumps about a bit (chronologically and geographically) but his reasons for doing so are clear and it doesn't result in a messy tangle as it easily could have done. Also, I don't think I was distracted by a single typo throughout.

(The only drop of half a star is, ironically, for one aspect of the physical form of the thing: the bare, uncovered boards of the cover are already softening and fraying at the corners. For this reason I've ordered some brass book corner protectors, which I intend – when they arrive – to affix for strengthening. This will be apt, I think, as it will impart a little personalization and craftsmanship befitting the subject's history.) ( )
  dtw42 | Jul 27, 2018 |
Not the right book for me but could be great for someone who *really* loves books. I enjoy books about books and 'The Book' promised to be a nuts and bolts look at what makes a book. From the pages to the ink to the binding to how a book is formatted, etc. it's all here.
 
Houston starts from the beginning with a look at papyrus and how it was made. That's how far down deep we get into it to get an idea. And while for the right person this might be a great look, for me this is not something that appeals to me at all.
 
In some ways this is a book that is the opposite of 'The Caped Crusade' which I read recently. For TCC I liked how it was to the point and we did not get too bogged down with the creators, illustrators, storytellers of Batman's story. For me I tend not to like when authors go into long histories of the people behind the story, in this case, the book. This bogged down my reading of the text and it just did not work for me.
 
That said, there is good information in the book and for the right person this is probably something that would really appeal to them. It might be a very niche book that appeals to a very specific audience, one that I am not a part of. No big deal for me but for a layperson this might not be a text that is right for you.
 
Borrowed from the library which was right for me. Recommend you do the same unless this is a very specific field you enjoy or use for work, etc. ( )
  acciolibros | Feb 11, 2018 |
Fascinating analysis of all technological aspects of book production and how we came to the modern book's form & function ( )
  SESchend | Sep 6, 2017 |
The Book, which is a complete over view of the book from it's earliest stages to what we find today. This includes the history of the earliest stages of writing, paper making, inks, type setting, and finally binding. Its well researched and through overview. Many the sections go into great detail. But for me there isn't enough information. I want to understand the evolution of type faces. There isn't much on modern printing and book making innovations of the last couple of decades. And their is no discussion about the future of book making; for a 2016 book in a world of ebooks and audiobooks this seems like a big oversight. I read this book ironically enough on a Kindle so a discussion about the this new form of book making would have been a nice addition.

A cool feature of this book, even included in the ebook version I read, is that throughout the text there are side notes on various components like: headers,titles, footnotes, bullets, margins, etc. I actually learned a lot just from these side notes. ( )
  stretch | May 28, 2017 |
If you enjoy book history and/or discussions of the book as object, you should definitely pick up this book. Divided into four sections (the page, the text, illustrations, and form), Houston explores the history of the book from its early roots to its current form. He covers thousands of years of history with thoroughly enjoyable writing and occasional dashes of humour that had me laughing out loud. The book is also a gorgeous object on its own (I highly recommend picking this one up in hardcover), with lovely high quality paper and, as evidenced from the annotations on the cover, it also highlights the technical terms for the content in a fun way. Solidly recommended if you enjoy the subject. ( )
  MickyFine | May 20, 2017 |
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This is a book about books.
Part 1
The Page

1
A Clean Sheet: The Invention of Papyrus
Ever since Napoleon swept into Egypt at the tail end of the eighteenth century, ushering in the modern era of Egyptology, the outside world has thrilled to successive revelations of golden death masks and boy kings; of beautiful queens and matchless libraries; and of million-ton pyramids aligned to the points of the compass with uncanny precision.
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Confronted with an ivory sheet of taut, smooth vellum, it is easy to forget its origins in the flesh.
For all its preternatural smoothness and seductive appearance, though, parchment cannot escape its provenance. Whether it was made yesterday or a thousand years ago, a sheet of parchment is the end product of a bloody, protracted, and very physical process that begins with the death of a calf, lamb, or kid, and proceeds thereafter through a series of grimly anatomical steps until parchment emerges at the other end. Like laws and sausages, if you love parchment it is perhaps best not to see it being made.
This, then, is parchment: the pale, virginal product of a bloody manufacturing process; a delicate writing surface that can withstand desert heat and European chill for centuries or even millennia; the medium upon which ancient and medieval writers set down the most important religious, literary, and scientific tracts of their times. Write with a good pen on a piece of parchment and you may wish you never had to go back to paper again—so why are none of today's books printed on it?
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0393244792, Hardcover)

“Everybody who has ever read a book will benefit from the way Keith Houston explores the most powerful object of our time. And everybody who has read it will agree that reports of the book’s death have been greatly exaggerated.”―Erik Spiekermann, typographer

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.

71 color illustrations

(retrieved from Amazon Tue, 08 Mar 2016 20:07:22 -0500)

"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.… (more)

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