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book.

The word book has come to have many meanings, e.g., any collection of sheets of paper, wood, or other material sewn or bound together; a division of a written work (books of the Bible, books of Caesar's Gallic War); and statements of financial accounting (bookkeeping). The primary meaning today is, however, a written work either in manuscript or in printed or electronic form that is of substantial length.

Early Books

Early in the history of bookmaking the printed book was distinguished in size by the number of times the original large sheet of paper on which the type was printed had been folded, i.e., folio, quarto, octavo, and duodecimo. With the advent of machine-made paper, these sizes were standardized. The standard octavo, according to the American Library Association, is between 20 cm and 25 cm in height.

Books apparently did not come into existence until long after writing, e.g., inscriptioninscription,
writing on durable material. The art is called epigraphy. Modern inscriptions are made for permanent, monumental record, as on gravestones, cornerstones, and building fronts; they are often decorative and imitative of ancient (usually Roman) methods.
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, was widespread. Fragmentary early papyri represent literature in ancient Egypt and may possibly be considered as books, although it is customary to speak of the Book of the DeadBook of the Dead,
term used to describe Egyptian funerary literature. The texts consist of charms, spells, and formulas for use by the deceased in the afterworld and contain many of the basic ideas of Egyptian religion.
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 as the first of the Egyptian papyrus books. The cuneiformcuneiform
[Lat.,=wedge-shaped], system of writing developed before the last centuries of the 4th millennium B.C. in the lower Tigris and Euphrates valley, probably by the Sumerians (see Sumer).
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 tablets gathered into the great Assyrian library of Assurbanipal represented an enormous collection of works, but the book as we know it may be said to be derived from the Egyptian writings on papyrus.

The vast literature of the Greeks, collected in the greatest library of the ancient world, in Alexandria, was generally written on large sheets of papyrus, which were glued together and rolled up. The rolls varied greatly in size; many were about 1 ft (30 cm) wide and about 30 ft (9 m) long when unrolled. In the Hellenistic era large works were divided into tomes [Gr.,=cutting] that were stored together in cylinders and labeled.

The method of having the leaves held together in quires (24 or 25 sheets) in the fashion of the modern book seems not to have originated until about the 2d cent. A.D. From at least the early part of the 2d cent. B.C. the more permanent vellum (a type of fine parchmentparchment,
untanned skins of animals, especially of the sheep, calf, and goat, prepared for use as a writing material. The name is a corruption of Pergamum, the ancient city of Asia Minor where preparation of parchment suitable for use on both sides was achieved in the 2d cent.
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 first used in the Middle East) was also used for writing books, and this grew to be very popular in the Middle Ages when books were copied by monks in the scriptoria of monasteries. In the scriptoria the art of illuminationillumination,
in art, decoration of manuscripts and books with colored, gilded pictures, often referred to as miniatures (see miniature painting); historiated and decorated initials; and ornamental border designs.
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 flourished, making artistic masterpieces of many medieval liturgical volumes.

Book Printing

The production of books in great quantity had to await the mechanical processes of printing from movable type. Printing was invented in China, where the first book printed by means of woodblocks is thought to date from the 9th cent. Korea developed movable metal type during the 13th cent. In the West movable metal type was developed by Johann GutenbergGutenberg, Johann
, c.1397–1468, German inventor and printer, long credited with the invention of a method of printing from movable type, including the use of metal molds and alloys, a special press, and oil-based inks: a method that, with refinements and increased
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 of Mainz, and to a very large extent the history of the book is henceforth the history of printingprinting,
means of producing reproductions of written material or images in multiple copies. There are four traditional types of printing: relief printing (with which this article is mainly concerned), intaglio, lithography, and screen process printing.
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.

Book production developed very rapidly, the craft becoming enormously sophisticated by the 16th cent. Italian printers set the standards of format and quality retained in Europe until the 19th cent. Great printing houses also arose in France and the Netherlands and, after a general decline in the 17th cent., in England and the United States. The 19th cent. witnessed machine replacement of all the old manual processes. By the end of the century printing quality had been so debased that a revolution, led by William MorrisMorris, William,
1834–96, English poet, artist, craftsman, designer, social reformer, and printer. He has long been considered one of the great Victorians and has been called the greatest English designer of the 19th cent.
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 during the arts and craftsarts and crafts,
term for that general field of applied design in which hand fabrication is dominant. The term was coined in England in the late 19th cent. as a label for the then-current movement directed toward the revivifying of the decorative arts.
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 movement in England, was necessary to restore the concept of beauty to bookmaking.

Modern Book Production

In recent years computer technology has revolutionized book production and the printing and distribution of comparatively inexpensive softcover books, or paperbacks, has expanded. Since the late 20th cent. the standing of the book as an information source has been challenged by other media including television, computers, and on-line databases. Also, the very definition of a book as a collection of printed sheets of paper is being challenged as books recorded in various audio formats have become increasingly common, and some works are being produced as audiobooks, appearing in audio form without ever being published in print. In addition, electronic book readers—small computers designed to display pages of digital books (e-books) on their screens as well as software that functions similarly on less specialized electronic devices—have been introduced.

Related Entries

See also book clubsbook clubs.
As a phenomenon in American cultural life, book clubs have made an impact in two periods of history. During the 18th and 19th cent. book clubs were formed for the purposes of discussion and debate.
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; book collectingbook collecting,
or bibliophily, the acquiring of books that are, or are expected to become, rare and that possess permanent interest in addition to their texts. Collecting has traditionally concentrated on first editions in the field of pure literature.
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; book publishingbook publishing.
The term publishing means, in the broadest sense, making something publicly known. Historically, it came to refer to the issuing of printed materials, such as books, magazines, periodicals, and the like; it now also encompasses issuing such materials in
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; incunabulaincunabula
, plural of incunabulum
[Late Lat.,=cradle (books); i.e., books of the cradle days of printing], books printed in the 15th cent. The known incunabula represent about 40,000 editions.
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; librarylibrary,
a collection of books or other written or printed materials, as well as the facility in which they are housed and the institution that is responsible for their maintenance.
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; manuscriptmanuscript,
a handwritten work as distinguished from printing. The oldest manuscripts, those found in Egyptian tombs, were written on papyrus; the earliest dates from c.3500 B.C.
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; typetype,
for printing, was invented in China (c.1040), using woodblocks. Related devices, such as seals and stamps for making impressions in clay, had been used in ancient times in Babylon and elsewhere.
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; typographytypography
, the art of printing from movable type. The term typographer is today virtually synonymous with a master printer skilled in the techniques of type and paper stock selection, ornamentation, and composition.
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; writingwriting,
the visible recording of language peculiar to the human species. Writing enables the transmission of ideas over vast distances of time and space and is a prerequisite of complex civilization.
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.

Bibliography

For a brief and excellent bibliography, see H. Lehmann-Haupt, One Hundred Books about Bookmaking (1949). See also F. G. Kenyon, Books and Readers in Ancient Greece and Rome (2d ed. 1951); E. Chiera, They Wrote on Clay (1958); F. L. Schick, The Paperbound Book in America (1959); H. D. Vervliet, ed., The Book through Five Thousand Years (1972); W. Morris, The Ideal Book (reprints of essays and lectures on the book arts, ed. by W. S. Petersen, 1982); N. Howard, The Book (2005); A. Pettegree, The Book in the Renaissance (2010); M. Lyons, Books: A Living History (2011).

What does it mean when you dream about a book?

Books often symbolize knowledge and wisdom. Dusty old books may represent neglected or forgotten knowledge, or an earlier “chapter” of one’s life. Opening or closing a book may symbolize opening or closing a stage in one’s life. Other meanings embodied in familiar expressions may be evoked in dreams, such as the connotations of “bookworm” and “book learning” (abstract knowledge without the benefit of practical experience available from the “book of life”). To someone reared in a traditional Christian home, “the Book” represents the Bible and God’s commandments.

book

[bu̇k]
(mineralogy)

book

1. the script of a play or the libretto of an opera, musical, etc
2. a major division of a written composition, as of a long novel or of the Bible
3. Bookmaking a record of the bets made on a horse race or other event
4. (in card games) the number of tricks that must be taken by a side or player before any trick has a scoring value
5. the book the Bible

Books

(dreams)
In our daily life, books are a source of information and a place to gain knowledge. They can be inspirational, and their messages are sometimes so strong that they change our lives. The books in our dreams can represent our memories, learned understanding, ideas, or viewpoints. They can alert us to the fact that we have something new to learn and that we should spend time on mastering new tasks. Pay attention to what kind of book you are seeing in your dream and its purpose in the larger context of the dream. Also, note reading any passages or specific messages from the book. At times the book may be pointing to new themes or purposes in your life. Pay attention! The unconscious mind is constantly making attempts to communicate with the conscious in such ways that the dreamer will recognize it without panic or denial. Superstition-based dream interpretations say that if you are dreaming of books, you can be assured of slow but steady progress in your life.