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book

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., inscription, 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 Dead as the first of the Egyptian papyrus books. The cuneiform 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 parchment 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 illumination 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 Gutenberg of Mainz, and to a very large extent the history of the book is henceforth the history of printing.

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 Morris during the arts and crafts 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

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).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2022, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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.

The Dream Encyclopedia, Second Edition © 2009 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.

book

[bu̇k]
(mineralogy)
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

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
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005

Surface Book

A combination convertible-hybrid laptop computer from Microsoft. Introduced in 2015, the x86-based Surface Book screen detaches from the keyboard (hybrid) for a stand-alone tablet configuration; however, the screen can also be flipped over and reattached to the keyboard like a convertible laptop. A more powerful discrete graphics processor (GPU) resides in the keyboard, which makes the computer more robust for multimedia editing and similar tasks when attached. See Surface versions, discrete graphics, convertible laptop and hybrid laptop.


Hybrid or Convertible
Available in 13.5" and 15" screen sizes, the Book's screen detaches (top) from the keyboard to function as a stand-alone tablet, or it can be reattached and remain with the keyboard (bottom). (Images courtesy of Microsoft.)
Copyright © 1981-2019 by The Computer Language Company Inc. All Rights reserved. THIS DEFINITION IS FOR PERSONAL USE ONLY. All other reproduction is strictly prohibited without permission from the publisher.

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.
Bedside Dream Dictionary by Silvana Amar Copyright © 2007 by Skyhorse Publishing, Inc.