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Paper: An Elegy [Hardcover]

Ian Sansom
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
RRP: 14.99
Price: 10.34 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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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: 30.98

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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 (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 128,817 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)
Browse Sample Pages
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 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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2 of 2 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 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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5.0 out of 5 stars Reflection on a time ending 16 May 2013
By Martin Turner HALL OF FAME TOP 100 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Paper is still a massively consumed item, but, as Sansom points out, it is increasingly giving way to electronic media. In this reflection on the history and use of paper, Sansom wanders down memory lane with many insights and often overlooked fact lets.
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Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I rather thought this book was going to be one of those slightly worthy plodding accounts of the history of paper since ancient times. Not a bit of it: it's a gushily enthusiastic and very learned eulogy for all things paper. Not just the books but their covers and wrappings and going into areas like Japanese paper clothes and the further reaches of paper technology.

It is happily eccentric, choosing its focus on myriad different areas. But within each of those areas it is admirably learned with wonderful references to any number of disparate other writings - a real tour de force. Occasionally the author forgets his subject is paper and spends his time instead on the object the paper was used for - but who's to quibble over the odd rivulet from a maniac in full flood.

All of these are very minor gripes, it is, in all a tremendous, eccentric, learned miscellany of all things paper and the author deserves congratulation for the way such a mass of material is brought together and on the whole so successfully
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4.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating book 20 Mar 2013
By San Diego surfer VINE VOICE
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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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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
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 11 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 12 months ago by Ray Blake
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 13 months ago by J. Haslam
4.0 out of 5 stars Its more interesting than at first glance
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. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Smatch
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 14 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 14 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 14 months ago by Book fiend
5.0 out of 5 stars A delightful little book!
As a kid, I collected stamps and once bought a book that described the making of paper and production of stamps. I remember being fascinated by this. Read more
Published 14 months ago by 
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