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Paper: An Elegy [Hardcover]

Ian Sansom
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
RRP: 14.99
Price: 10.49 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Hardcover 10.49  
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Book Description

25 Oct 2012

What do reading a book, smoking a cigarette, throwing confetti and voting in an election have in common? The answer, of course, is paper.

Paper serves nearly every function of our lives. It is the technology with which we have made sense of the world.

Yet the age of paper is ending. Ebooks now outsell their physical counterparts. Still, there are some uses of paper that seem unlikely to change – Christmas won’t be Christmas without wrapped presents or crackers. And the language of paper – documents, files and folders – has survived digitisation.

In Paper: An Elegy Ian Sansom builds a museum of paper and explores its paradox – its vulnerability and durability. This book is a timely meditation on the very paper it’s printed on.


Frequently Bought Together

Paper: An Elegy + The Missing Ink: The Lost Art of Handwriting, and Why it Still Matters + For the Love of Letters: The Joy of Slow Communication
Price For All Three: 31.47

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Fourth Estate (25 Oct 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007480261
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007480265
  • Product Dimensions: 20.4 x 13.4 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 304,514 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Born in Essex, England, Ian Sansom is the author of the popular Mobile Library Mystery Series. He is also a frequent contributor and critic for The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, The London Review of Books, and The Spectator. He is a regular broadcaster on BBC Radio 3 and Radio 4.
He studied at both Oxford and Cambridge and is a former Fellow of Emmanuel College, Cambridge. Currently, he teaches at Warwick University.

Product Description

Review

Praise for ‘Paper’:

‘Engaging and dynamic’ Andrew Martin, Financial Times

‘Wonderfully diverting…Splendidly dense with fact and thought’ Steven Poole, Times Literary Supplement

‘Sansom’s scholarship is prodigious; his enthusiasm inexhaustible…He can make one laugh out loud by his placing of a single word’ Daily Telegraph

‘A collection of ever so erudite, witty, chucklesome essays, rich with digressions and asides, on paper, in many of its guises, that seeks to refute – and does refute – the idea that we are moving towards a paperless world’ Bookmunch

About the Author

Born in Essex, England, Ian Sansom is the author of the popular Mobile Library Mystery Series. He is also a frequent contributor and critic for The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, The London Review of Books, and The Spectator. He is a regular broadcaster on BBC Radio 3 and Radio 4.
He studied at both Oxford and Cambridge and is a former Fellow of Emmanuel College, Cambridge. Currently, he teaches at Warwick University.


Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Never thought I'd be so captivated by paper... 4 Dec 2012
Format:Hardcover
Extraordinarily interesting read. My second and favourite Ian Sansom book. References to Paper Mario surprised and delighted me. It almost makes me bad that I'm typing this review online, though...
Great book. Great writer. Extremely entertaining man. Do yourself a favour and procure some papery knowledge! Mammocks.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Paper: An Elegy 18 Feb 2013
By Damaskcat HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is a totally fascinating exploration of paper and the ways it is woven into the fabric of our lives in ways we may not even realise. It isn't a chronological history of paper though there are plenty of historical asides in the book. Throughout the book the author's love of paper in all its forms shines through and it seems to have been a labour of love to write it. I found it an interesting and well written book and I came across a great many snippets of information of which I was not previously aware.

Books - both printed and hand written are discussed as is paper money, which has been around a lot longer than you might think. Labels and packaging are explored by way of Charles Dickens and his job in a blacking factory and Nick Drake provides the title for the final chapter `Five Leaves Left'. Origami merits a chapter to itself - anyone remember Robert Harbin and his fascinating children's programmes? Paper's use in art is explored not just as the surface to which paint is applied but also to make three dimensional models.

The book is beautifully produced and designed. It has a comprehensive bibliography for those who would like to see the sources of the information contained in the book and there is an index.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely man, lovely book. 20 Dec 2012
Format:Hardcover
Dr. Sansom is intelligent and has obviously done much research about endless
uses for paper. But he is funny too! The perfect book to read to learn something
or to be entertained. A gift for all teachers of English lit or readers.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating book 20 Mar 2013
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Paper: An Elegy is an interesting book, examining the ways in which our lives have been dominated by paper and the effect of the increasing 'digitalization' of paper. The book discusses paper in a historical context in an easy-to-read and enjoyable style.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
As the general manager of Frogmore Paper Mill, the world's oldest mechanised paper mill, I'm delighted that Mr Sansom has tackled paper in such an engaging way. Although we all take paper for granted, its actually a very sophisticated product and it is almost impossible to conceive of modern life without it. Super work.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Its more interesting than at first glance 21 Feb 2013
By Smatch VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I work in the creative industry so this book appealed to me straight off. Its always a risk with a book such as this though, that it ends up being awful. But it really surprised me how interesting and sometimes insightful it can be. And I think it has come about at a time when the paper industry is falling faster than it ever has, when a large percentage of media today is digital. This book is a nice reminder to a newer generation of how revolutionary paper was.

First of all the cover is quite nice with its embossed text, its somewhat dated but who cares, it fits! The stock the book is printed on though is standard recycled paper so don't expect any antique laid, even though its a book celebrating paper!

As for the content, forget the vague diagrams and focus on the approachable way Sansom writes what could, in other hands come across laboured and boring. Its a nice book to have lying around, and I've noticed people who see it pick it up, so the simple title and cover works. Its not a revolutionary book by any means but worth a read.
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Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A misleading title as 'elegy' is a song of praise for the dead, and paper is far from dead. The forecasts of the paperless office never came true, and never will. Full of wonderful anecdotes and useless information that I find myself dropping into conversations, such as the tons of leaflets dropped on Vietnam, the tons of toilet paper consumed by the Chinese, Anyone who enjoys reading and writing will love this book, and it is a must for stationery fetishists like me.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic book and a perfect gift 10 Dec 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is exactly the sort of book I like. I'd recommend it strongly as an excellent gift for anyone that likes their books made out of paper rather than electrons.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Reflection on a time ending
Paper is still a massively consumed item, but, as Sansom points out, it is increasingly giving way to electronic media. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Martin Turner
2.0 out of 5 stars Not to my taste
This book looks good but that is the only thing that I could say that is favourable about it. That is not because it is a bad book but because it is just not to my personal taste. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Bantam Dave
3.0 out of 5 stars Looks like it's just me, then
Unlike most reviewers, I wasn't bowled over by this book. I enjoy the genre - the celebration of a commodity - but for me this one is a little dry, even arch. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Ray Blake
5.0 out of 5 stars An informative, eccentric and hugely entertaining celebration of paper
I rather thought this book was going to be one of those slightly worthy plodding accounts of the history of paper since ancient times. Read more
Published 17 months ago by The Navigator
3.0 out of 5 stars A book that is perfectly designed for Kindle.
This is a nicely written and well researched book. There is plenty of unusual and quite interesting detail but I can't say that any of it was so good that it made a lasting... Read more
Published 18 months ago by J. Haslam
5.0 out of 5 stars Great little book. If you liked Just My Type, you'll like this
A delightful little book celebrating the material that is paper.

This is the type of book that the English do best, quirky, a single subject, and by someone with an... Read more
Published 18 months ago by Half Man, Half Book
4.0 out of 5 stars Eclectic Grazing
A few years back a genre seemed to emerge of books that brought seemingly marginal historic subjects to life (of which 'Longitude', highly recommended, was probably the most well... Read more
Published 18 months ago by S. Thomas
4.0 out of 5 stars Scissors, paper stone: paper always wins
The title of Ian Sansom's Paper Elegy leads you to suppose that he is going to make a convincing argument that paper is on its way out. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Book fiend
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