The Book (Hardcover)

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

By Keith Houston

W. W. Norton & Company, 9780393244793, 448pp.

Publication Date: August 23, 2016

List Price: 29.95*
* Individual store prices may vary.

Description

“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, typographer


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.





About the Author

Keith Houston is the author of Shady Characters and the founder of shadycharacters.co.uk. He lives in London.


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

A lovingly designed and
illustrated deep history of the book.
— John Williams

Mr. Houston savors evocative detail. . . . As befits its subject, The Book is pleasingly designed—with an offbeat self-consciousness about its sturdy appearance—and Mr. Houston’s unapologetic nerdiness is matched by a jaunty style. . . . Mr. Houston is an eager, affable guide, and his detailed history is a welcome reminder that this ‘unrepentantly analog contraption’ is one of the truly great pieces of technology.

— Henry Hitchings

A love letter to the physical book, this is a fascinating and erudite telling of how it came into being. . . . Hugely enlightening.
— Tory Lyne-Pirkis

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.
— Barbara Kiser, books and arts editor of Nature magazine

If you love books, love the feel of a book in your hands, the heft and smell, the swish of a turned page and the satisfying thump of the cover -- and you must or you wouldn't be reading this -- have I got the book for you. . . . The bookiest of books. . . . Houston. . . writes with zest. He's an enthusiast if not an obsessive, with a voracious appetite for details, from the daily grind in a medieval scriptorium to the intricate workings of a modern offset press. . . . The Book is nothing if not user-friendly.

— Bill Marvel

Invitingly tactile. . . . 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.

Erudite, playful, and illuminating. . . . Houston is both witty and intensely detailed, thus appealing both to general readers and to bibliophiles who will wish to know the specifics of making papyrus, of stitching together pages, and of learning how we arrived at today's paper sizes. . . . A splendid, challenging mixture of information and fun.

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.

This engaging volume should satisfy a wide cross-section of book lovers, history buffs, and those interested in the dynamic relationship among language, the written word, and human ingenuity.
— Rebecca Brody

[A] masterful and
overwhelmingly entertaining volume, both an homage to the book and one itself
to be cherished by readers everywhere.
— Clea Simon

We bibliomaniacs have a
soulmate in Keith Houston . . . riveting.
— Alan Taylor

Savor this deeply
researched love letter to every bibliophiles favorite thing . . . a scholarly
and light-hearted review of everything you want to know on the origins of the
written language, the media upon which it is captured, and its methods of
illustration, reproduction, and distribution.
— Jennifer Bort Yacovissi

Splendidly comprehensive
and tactile.
— Russell Leadbetter

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

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, Professor at University of the Arts Bremen