TITLE: The Book: A Cover-to-Cover Exploration of the Most Powerful Object of Our Time
AUTHOR: Keith Houston
DATE PUBLISHED: 2016
From the blurb:
"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."
This is a book about books - including the history and development of writing, ink, writing surfaces (papyrus, parchment, paper), printing, illustrations, illuminations, binding and general book manufacture. This book contains a great deal of information presented in digestible chunks, with amusing observations thrown in, though it does tend to be somewhat repetitious. This is no doubt partly an effect of the structure of the book in four parts [The Page; The Text; Illustrations; and Form], which lead to some jumping back and forth in time. Houston relays many stories that include social history, cultural history, accidental discoveries, and biographical details of the people that had a hand in the eventual production of the printed book. The writing style is fairly digestible with some attention given to printing and binding details. The information is interesting and the colour illustrations beautiful, though a more chronological story would have appealed to me more. This book would provide an agreeable summary and introductory text to the history of the book from ancient times to the current technological era.