The Book: A Cover-to-Cover Exploration of the Most Powerful Object of Our Time Hardcover – 12 Aug. 2016
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"Keith Houston's deft history of the object wraps entire civilizations into the telling, propelling us through the evolution of writing, printing, binding and illustration with gusto...gripping..."--Nature
"A love letter to the physical book, this is a fascinating and erudite telling of how it came into being...hugely enlightening...a definitive history of the printed book."
"Houston has an eye for humour and The Book is stuffed full of quirky anecdotes...If you're looking for a definitive history of the printed book, this is it."
--The Belfast Telegraph
"This witty and mischievous tome traces the evolution from papyrus to paperback in 448 pages. It's an optimistic ode to one of mankind s greatest inventions, which continues to thrive even against the onslaught of e-readers."--The Monocle Minute
"full of insights and deeply researched...Houston has created a user-friendly reference book for both geek and connoisseur...[he] transforms what might be deemed tedious history into a thorough and entertaining read...this is essential reading for print lover and screen user."
"...we bibliomaniacs have a soulmate in Keith Houston...Houston's book about the book - a handsome artefact as well as an informative and inventive one - traces it from its origins in papyrus and parchment to the era of cheap paper, moveable type and mass production...riveting."
--Scottish Review of Books
"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."
"...erudite, playful, and illuminating. [Houston's] massive research informs his discussion - research he has absorbed so well that it seems to flow effortlessly from his pen...Houston is both witty and intensely detailed, thus appealing both to general readers and to bibliophiles..."--Kirkus Reviews
From the Author
From the Publisher
“...a splendidly comprehensive and tactile object...You can learn a lot from this book.” — The Herald
A perfect book for bibliophiles.
“Houston's book about the book—a handsome artefact as well as an informative, and inventive one—traces it from its origins in papyrus and parchment to the era of cheap paper, moveable type and mass production... riveting.” — The Scottish Review of Books
“Keith Houston's deft history of the object wraps entire civilizations into the telling, propelling us through the evolution of writing, printing, binding and illustration with gusto.” — Nature
“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
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With beautiful illustrations.
Top international reviews
Really detailed and extensive historical research, putted in a very light language!
The book, itself, is amazingly beautiful and well thought out
Napisana z pasją przez programistę komputerowego.
Mr. Houston is a fastidious and entertaining writer, and this book is meticulously well written. I absolutely and thoroughly enjoyed reading this book from beginning to end. I learned so much, and will carry that knowledge with me into the future.
I very enthusiastically recommend this book to anyone interested in the history of our most important technology.
I didn't understand the few readers who found this book overwhelmingly detailed. The primary reason I'm giving it 5 stars is for readability. The story always takes precedence over the details. If anything, I found the text on the verge of becoming lightweight. To put a positive spin on it, he left room for further exploration. Though I've read other books on the history of books, paper, alphabets and typography, printing, book binding, pigments (a great companion to this would be Phillip Ball's history of pigments…Colored Earth, I think it's called), many of which go into greater detail than The Book, I found Houston's narrative to be one of the clearest and most informative of the bunch.
A curious aside: why does Houston never refer to quires as signatures? Throughout he explains both modern and archaic terms, often giving a history of them, all the current ones familiar. I really can't recall any work on bookbinding calling a collection of stitched pages a quire. It's always called a signature. In reference to older books he calls it a gathering, then calls them quires in modern books. Are signatures an American thing?
I would recommend The Book to anyone who sleeps better because they have overflowing shelves of books near their bed. A great read. Above all, he's telling a story. Fun, sometimes groaningly flippant, and informative.