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

Author(s): Keith Houston

Literary Criticism & Essays & Journalism

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.


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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." -- Nature "...a splendidly comprehensive and tactile object...You can learn a lot from this book." -- The Herald "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." -- The Yorkshire Post "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 "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 is the author of Shady Characters and the founder of He lives in London.

General Fields

  • : 9780393244793
  • : W. W. Norton & Company, Incorporated
  • : W. W. Norton & Company, Incorporated
  • : 0.001
  • : August 2016
  • : 218mm X 152mm X 40mm
  • : September 2016
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Keith Houston
  • : Hardback
  • : 1609
  • : English
  • : 002.09
  • : 448
  • : 71 color illustrations