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.Read more...
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.
- ISBN-13: 9780393244793
- ISBN-10: 0393244792
- Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
- Publish Date: August 2016
- Page Count: 448
- Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.7 x 1.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.05 pounds
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2016-06-20
- Reviewer: Staff
Houston (Shady Characters) reminds readers of the joy of reading print in this history of the book, lovingly crafted and embellished with arcane anecdotes. Chapters are arranged by the parts of a book: page, ink, pen, type, illustrations, and the binding that brings it all together. Houston begins with the creation of writing, moving to the search for something to write on. He explores papyrus, parchment, and paper in their many forms, along with the need to find inks that suit each one. Houston challenges popular misconceptions—“if Gutenberg is to be credited with anything it must be that he made work”—and offers anecdotes of particularly thrilling moments in the book’s development, such as the discovery of the Nag Hammadi library, where the earliest complete codices known were found. Houston appreciates words, too. He derives the origin of the word syllabus, for instance, and explains the differences between illuminated and illustrated manuscripts. Technical discussions of the printing press, lithography, and binding are enlivened by stories of their creators’ missteps. Houston’s fixation with this object is a delight, and his understanding of how history is written and his clear delineation between speculation and established fact are very refreshing. Agent: Laurie Abkemeier, DeFiore & Company. (Aug.)