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Looking at Art: The Book

Daniel Tures, Adult Librarian, Edendale Branch Library,
shelf of books about books
Books about books at the Central Library. Photo by the author

Consider the book. Not just what's written in it but the thing itself. It's a familiar object, usually composed of printed paper pages sewn or glued into a binding. Libraries, stores, homes, and public buildings are full of them. Most of us grew up learning from them, and even e-books mimic the look of an ordinary paper book. To some they are boring or old-fashioned; to others, wondrous and fascinating creations to be collected and cherished. We take them for granted (until we're stuck in a bus station without one), but even the cheapest paperback is the culmination of many techniques developed painstakingly over centuries and the history of humans striving to represent and communicate. When we think of 'technology,' examples like interplanetary spacecraft or artificial intelligence may spring to mind. However, astonishing innovations like these would never have been possible without the original technology of preserving the vast foundation of human knowledge in books. As such, the book is one of the most central inventions and art forms in history.

Let's take a look at the story of the book, around the globe and across time. Books take many shapes and sizes, from enormous to minuscule, and can embody ingenious creativity in their design. This is the first entry in a new series by the Art, Music, and Recreation Department called Looking at Art: The Book, celebrating the history, artistry, fabrication, and future of the book.

Miniature books at the Los Angeles Public Library
Miniature books at the Los Angeles Public Library

What is a book? We are used to thinking of a book as a codex, or set of bound pages stitched together in a cover (caudex is Latin for 'trunk of a tree' or 'block of wood'). But books have taken many other forms worldwide and through the ages, and may someday take new ones. The Oxford Illustrated History of the Book lists "cuneiform tablets to digital tablets…Inca khipus (or quipus), Chinese and East Asian bamboo books, woodblock printing and xylography, Buddhist thanka scrolls, Javanese, Balinese, and Singhalese leaf books, and Dakota buffalo hides." Essentially, a book is a legible, durable, portable, replicable vessel for written or depicted information. This places the book on a spectrum of signifiers, including signs, newspapers, posters, comics, sheet music, maps, oral storytellers, audiobooks, and much more. A book is also thought of as something that requires a lengthy authorial effort to compose, a significant investment of time and thought to read and is intended for some degree of permanence. Forward-thinking readers await e-books that are interactive, fluid, multimedia, and immersive, collectively written and constantly updated, massively hyperlinked and aware, perhaps even directly connected to our neurons without any conventional physical substrate. But despite their many advantages of speed and flexibility over traditional paper books, it remains to be seen what kind of longevity today's electronic formats will have to communicate with readers centuries from now.

Pustaha Sumatran Magic book
Batak Pustaha – Magic Book, leaf 73. Sumatran Batak books were traditionally made from the bark of the alim tree, cut into strips, and folded concertina fashion, with ink applied to engraved lines of writing. The Pustaha record various types of knowledge, including cures for illness, the production of amulets, and magic. SOAS University of London

A book can be considered either as the text carried by whatever contingent vessel bears it or as an interesting artifact in itself, made in a certain way from certain materials. In a sense, an ancient person reading a clay tablet and a contemporary reader reading a modern translation of that text on an e-reader are both reading 'the same book'—the format, language, cultural milieu, and context have all changed, but the text lives on, however imperfectly. The preservation and transmission of texts is what drives human civilization, but it is the physical vessel that gives those texts their stability and shareability. A private, unshareable text, if it existed, would have no value beyond a single mind; books are shared artifacts.

Books have long held a talismanic aura; they have been worshipped as sacred and feared as profane. Perhaps this is because they are objects that can transfer the thoughts of one mind to another across space and time, as John Milton wrote: "Books are not absolutely dead things, but do contain a potency of life in them to be active as that soul whose progeny they are; nay, they do preserve as in a vial the purest efficacy and extraction of that living intellect that bred them…" Holy books in some religions are believed to have been written directly by the deity to communicate with the followers, and access to the original is restricted to the elite. Books are often viewed as dangerous or subversive, and their enemies seek to burn them or stamp them out—a practice apotheosized in Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451, in which the 'firemen' of the future are tasked by the state with burning all the paper books they can find. Readers of Goethe's lovelorn 1774 novel The Sorrows of Young Werther identified so strongly with its protagonist that it set off a mania for dressing like Werther, in blue jacket, yellow waistcoat, and trousers, and even for copycat suicides, using pistols similar to the one Werther uses at the end. Salman Rushdie's postmodern tour-de-force The Satanic Verses was pronounced blasphemous in 1988 by the hardline religious leadership of Iran, inspiring riots, bombings and attempts on the life of the author ever since.

Quran in Chinguetti, Mauritania, Africa
Quran in Chinguetti, Mauritania, Africa. A nine-century-old Quran bound in gazelle skin in the library of Chinguetti, Mauritania, Africa. Dr. Ondrej Havelka

Mirroring this real-life power of books, writers have posited fictional books within their books, of great good or ill. George Orwell's 1984 centers around the device of a forbidden book, The Theory, and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism, referred to simply as 'the Book'; when Winston Smith finally gets to read an illicit copy, it seems to suggest a mystical unity of political ideologies and makes him question the reality of anything outside of state control, exemplifying the doctrinal role books play in radical political movements. Horror writer H.P. Lovecraft regularly alluded to the Necronomicon across his many novels and stories, a malevolent fictional grimoire supposed to have been written by the mad Cthulhu-adept Abdul Alhazred; several real versions were later written and published in tribute. Bibliophile Jorge Luis Borges wrote several stories that explore the iterability of information and text. Once "The Book of Sand" has been acquired, its new owner finds that he cannot turn to the beginning or the end; the pages multiply in his hands, a universe of texts within the covers. "The Library of Babel" expands outward rather than inward, composed of "an indefinite, perhaps an infinite number of hexagonal galleries," preserving tomes with every possible arrangement of letters and punctuation.

Books are the product of systems of writing. Markings with some apparent writing-like function go back as far as the earliest traces of human history; even the 17,000-year-old cave paintings of animals and hunters at Lascaux feature dots and scribbles that may indicate, say, the lunar month in which the depicted events occurred. A true writing system is one that evolved beyond simple marks and pictograms into something abstract and general enough to capture the full range of thought conveyed in a spoken language. Writing was once thought to have originated uniquely in Mesopotamia in the fourth millennium BCE and spread from there throughout the rest of the world; it is now held to have originated separately in Egypt, China, and Mesoamerica as well.

The Code of Hammurabi, engraved on a diorite stele displayed at the Louvre
The Code of Hammurabi, engraved on a diorite stele displayed at the Louvre. This is the first copy found and still the most complete, excavated from the ancient Elamite city of Susa in modern-day Iran. Hammurabi ruled Babylon in the second millennium BCE. His legal code, written in cuneiform, has long been admired for its fairness and objectivity. Mbzt

Evolving over centuries from proto-writing marks used for accounting and other tracking of trade and goods, examples of wedge-shaped cuneiform writing dating back to 3200 BCE have been excavated from the ruins of the ancient Sumerian city of Uruk in contemporary Iraq. Clay fragments of some of the world's oldest known written literature from a few centuries after that, including the Instructions of Šuruppak, communicating a king's life wisdom to his son, and the Kesh Temple Hymn. Egyptian hieroglyphic writings from around the same time period have been found painted and carved on tombs and temples, such as a description of the life and career of an official named Metjen in his tomb at Saqqara and fragments of the 'Book of Two Ways', instructions for the afterlife that predate the Book of the Dead, found inked on crumbling wooden planks at the necropolis of Dayr al-Barshā. Oracle bones with complex linguistic inscriptions as old as 1200 BCE have been found at Anyang in China, recording divinations performed in the royal Shang Dynasty household. As Eleanor Robson notes in The Oxford Illustrated History of the Book, one of the characters on an oracle bone, ce, refers to a bamboo strip book, "indicating that, as in ancient Egypt, there were already other, more ephemeral writing media in use that no longer survive."

Amduat (Netherworld) Papyrus Inscribed for Gautsoshen
Amduat (Netherworld) Papyrus Inscribed for Gautsoshen (MET, 25.3.31). Metropolitan Museum of Art
Oracle bones from Yinxu, Anyang, Henan, China
Oracle bones from Yinxu, Anyang, Henan, China. The piece on the left is from the Huáng diviner group from period V, which corresponds to the reigns of the last two kings of the Shang dynasty. It is inscribed with a complete table of the sexagenary cycle used to describe the dates of divinations. Gary Todd

The idea of preserving a complex body of thought for one's peers and for future generations to read has been universal across writing cultures. But the forms books have taken have varied around the world, depending on cultural, religious, historical, and environmental differences, particularly the writing materials available to hand and the best means of preservation–dry desert climates being ideal. Scrolls made from papyrus from the banks of the Nile spread texts around the Mediterranean. These were superseded by the codex of bound pages, which came to be associated with Christianity and the empires that advanced its religious texts. Papermaking, from sheets of soaked, dried, and pressed fibers, including those of wood pulp, silk, cotton, or linen, dates back to second-century BCE China and traveled to the Arab world. But in Europe and Christendom through the Middle Ages, the preferred material for the pages of codices was parchment, i.e., stretched and treated animal skins; paper was considered inferior material for sacred knowledge. Only during the Renaissance did the use of paper become widespread in Europe, with the rise of universities and printing presses. In India, manuscripts were inscribed on bark or palm leaves and bound with string. Mesoamerican cultures also wrote books on bark, often on whitewashed pages pasted together concertina-style; unfortunately, Spanish and Portuguese conquistadors and their Christian missionaries regarded them as heathens and destroyed almost all of them. Only with the help of the few codices that survived in private collections and dusty corners of libraries was the Mayan writing carved on stone temples and steles in the Yucatan finally deciphered in the 20th century.

Six sheets of the Mayan ‘Dresden’ Codex depicting eclipses, multiplication tables and the flood.
Six sheets of the Mayan 'Dresden' Codex depicting eclipses, multiplication tables, and the flood

Papyrus reeds, native to the Nile delta and marshes, can grow over 15 feet tall and make a light and robust writing surface when cut, unrolled, and treated. Sheets were laid atop one another and glued perpendicularly, with the vertical fibers at the back and the horizontal ones at the front forming the writing surface. Black ink was derived from charcoal, gum Arabic, and water, with ochre substituting red. Their use in making long scrolls spread around the eastern Mediterranean into many languages and continued through the first millennium CE. Scrolls had various disadvantages, particularly that one could not skip back and forth to different parts of the text, as one does with a codex, without unrolling and re-rolling the entire thing. An identification tag was usually affixed to one end, known as "sillybos" in Greek and "titilus" by the Romans; since they could not be stacked or shelved easily, they were often stored in large jars, called "bibliotheke" in Greek.

At the height of classical Greek civilization, writing and literacy were widespread. But as Craig Kallendorf points out in The Book: A Global History, texts at the time were written without much word or paragraph division, so reading aloud to convey the sense of the text was the norm. "In time," he suggests, "some Greeks developed the ability to read silently, in a process tied to the rise of Socrates' Daimonion, the inner voice that would later be called one's 'conscience.'" An Aristophanes play produced in Plato's youth includes a scene in which a character reads silently, which confuses another character. Perhaps in this way the learned practice of reading silently to oneself helped shape consciousness, not unlike the language-driven development of introspection posited by Julian Jaynes in The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind.

Vase showing a woman reading from a papyrus scroll
Vase showing a woman reading from a papyrus scroll in the manner of the Niobid Painter. Kimissalla, Rhodos, ca. 450 BCE. ArchaiOptix, taken at the British Museum

Though not the first library in the ancient world, the Library of Alexandria is the most legendary, established to be a repository of the world's knowledge by the Ptolemaic Dynasty in fourth-century Egypt following the breakup of Alexander the Great's empire. Its well-funded acquisition campaign amassed hundreds of thousands of papyrus scrolls, which, despite centuries of organizational efforts by its learned staff, were dispersed as it declined and fell into ruin during the Roman Empire; any remaining traces of the original structure lie somewhere beneath the modern city today. The Dead Sea Scrolls, discovered in the Qumran Caves in the Judean Desert in the 1940s, contain full and fragmentary texts of Hebrew scriptures dating back to the third century BCE, written on parchment and papyrus and stored in earthenware jars, likely in accordance with the ancient tradition of genizah or the burying of worn-out copies of sacred manuscripts. A library of some 1800 papyrus scrolls was entombed at Herculaneum by the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 CE, carbonized and preserved by volcanic ash. They were rediscovered during 18th century excavations, and modern scientific techniques have found that the extremely fragile remains preserve a great many uniquely surviving Greek philosophical texts.

Two scrolls from the Dead Sea Scrolls
Two scrolls from the Dead Sea Scrolls lie at their location in the Qumran Caves before being removed for scholarly examination by archaeologists. Abraham Meir Habermann

A step in the direction of the codex was a Roman notekeeping tool called the diptych, consisting of two wooden boards bound at one edge by a hinge. The interior panels were coated with wax, which could be inscribed with a stylus and later erased and reused. Although the oldest parchment codex, written in Latin, dates to 100 BCE, the full switch from scroll to codex took many more centuries and is thought to have been hastened by the overharvesting and decline of papyrus groves in the Nile's marshes. Christian liturgical texts, as well as those of the ancient world, were preserved through the Middle Ages by the efforts of bookmakers in monasteries, preparing parchment sheets stitched and bound between wooden covers, often clasped with locks to keep the parchment pressed flat. Teams of skilled scribes would copy texts word for word (thus 'manuscripts' or handwritten documents) in the scriptorium or writing room, some writing the text, others providing illuminated letters in golden ink, colored borders, or illustrations. The boards were often covered in vellum and elaborately decorated and tooled. Almost all of these many scribes and craftsmen are anonymous today, books at the time bearing hardly any information about creators, editions, or dates.

Book of Kells
Book of Kells at the Long Room of the Library of the Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland. Zairon

An expedited version of this process took place in the medieval Muslim world; a reader would read out a text in the presence of its author to an assembled group of copyists, producing a large number of authorized copies in a much shorter span of time, also on paper which was cheaper than parchment. During the eighth century under the Umayyad Empire, literacy and written knowledge were widespread. Books on science, philosophy, rhetoric, and mathematics were housed in mosques and madrasas, offering both the Muslim and non-Muslim public access to most books, in contrast to the Christian monastic tradition, in which books were primarily available to the clergy. Early in Renaissance Europe, universities appeared in major cities, making books available to a whole new class of students and scholars. Still, books at the time were mostly huge, heavy, handmade creations bound in wooden boards and chained to the university desk.

Johannes Gutenberg is often credited with inventing the printing press and moveable type in the late 15th century in Mainz, thereby transforming the modern information world. This is an overstatement, as woodblock-printed books date back to the 7th century CE in China, most famously a well-preserved copy of the Buddhist Diamond Sutra from 868. Chinese artisans worked with moveable wooden type in the 11th century, and a book using moveable metal type was printed in Korea in 1377. Of course, Chinese and other Asian languages, with their many thousands of unique characters, were far less amenable to moveable type than European languages, which use a small number of alphabetical letters. Woodblock printing was even used in Europe before Gutenberg, but soft wooden type loses its clarity after a few impressions. What Gutenberg and his fellow artisans along the Rhine did develop was a method of quickly and consistently producing sharp, durable metal moveable type, using a mixture of lead, tin, and antimony, as well as working with oil-based inks and introducing a wooden printing press similar to agricultural screw-presses used at the time. However, none of his presses have survived, nor any images of them, and he kept most of his innovations close as trade secrets so that forensic researchers have had to laboriously reconstruct his methods to figure out how he did it. Not even Gutenberg Bibles bear his name. 180 were originally estimated to have been printed, 140 on paper and 40 on vellum; 48 known copies survive today, 36 on paper and 12 on vellum. After printing took flight in Europe, books began adding title pages, tables of contents, publication information, and colophons, but early printed books still required a great deal of detective work to authenticate.

Nonetheless, Gutenberg's innovative process of printing paper books rapidly spread across Europe and around the world. One dramatic example of its impact can be seen in Martin Luther's protest against the Catholic Church in 1517. The church used Gutenberg-style presses to print indulgences, among other documents; these were sold in order to raise funds, bureaucratically expunging this or that sin in the name of the Lord for those who could afford to purchase one. Luther, an Augustinian friar who taught at the University of Wittenberg, objected to the wealth of the Vatican and other Catholic practices he saw as corrupt and at odds with his own doctrine of personal faith and connection to God. Whether or not he actually nailed his 95 theses to the door of All Saints' Church, he did mail them to his bishop, and soon after, they were translated into German, printed, and distributed far and wide, turning him into something of a celebrity. Initially, he intended to reform rather than renounce the church, but the speed of his fame, ironically fueled by the same presses that printed the indulgences in the first place, accelerated a high-profile showdown with Catholic authorities that led to his excommunication. Though branded an outlaw, he continued to polemicize, inspire popular revolts, organize his breakaway church, and, of course, publish—notably a people's vernacular German edition of the Bible, in contrast to Gutenberg's traditional Latin one. As the Renaissance unfolded, demand exploded for books in the vernacular, as well as humanistic books on science and philosophy and Greek and Roman classics.

There is also much to say, and little room here, about the development of increasingly readable and beautiful fonts and printed illustrations. When not hand-drawn, illustrations were printed in books with elaborate woodcuts carved in relief and in reverse, a practice that reached a high point with Albrecht Dürer and his workshop, notably his 1498 series Apocalypse, vividly depicting scenes from the Book of Revelation. The same process was used for Vesalius' elaborately detailed 1543 anatomical illustrations in his vastly influential On the Fabric of the Human Body. This was followed by copperplate intaglio and engraving and thereafter, lithography, which utilized chemical properties of surfaces and inks to transfer illustrations to paper, all the way up through the development of photographic techniques in the 19th century.

Anatomy of standing human (from Andreas Vesalius' De humani corporis fabrica libri septem).
Anatomy of standing human (from Andreas Vesalius' De humani corporis fabrica libri septem)

For the next few centuries, innovations in bookmaking reflected the growth of capitalism and industrialism. The process became systematized into authorship, editing, publishing, printing, distribution, and selling. A print shop alone required skilled proofreaders, compositors, typesetters, and muscular press-pullers to impress the platen onto the page, to say nothing of papermakers, binders, accountants, and so forth. As demand for books made their production lucrative, piracy increased, necessitating the formation of publishing guilds and copyright laws beginning with the Licensing Act of 1662. Diderot revolutionized secular education with his Encyclopédie starting in 1751, a compendium of useful human knowledge across every discipline that eventually ran to 28 volumes with some 70,000 articles written by himself and various learned contributors. It challenged the church's authority and helped foment the intellectual climate that led to the French Revolution. Scientists and polymaths such as Robert Hooke and William Blake became interested in improving the bookmaking process; Hooke floated an idea that presaged the rotary press, and Blake united his skills as engraver, poet, and artist into the production of beautiful, visionary, high-quality books like Songs of Innocence and of Experience and The Book of Thel, illuminated with illustrations printed using his own process of relief etching.

Songs of Innocence and of Experience, copy AA 1826, The Human Abstract.The William Blake Archive, Fitzwilliam Museum
Songs of Innocence and of Experience, copy AA 1826, The Human Abstract.The William Blake Archive, Fitzwilliam Museum

The 19th century saw bookmaking transformed by a rapid series of inventions that took it all the way to full machine automation. It began with Charles Stanhope's introduction of the iron press in 1803, which looked much like Gutenberg's wooden press but was much larger and sturdier. Freidrich Koenig improved on this by reimagining the entire apparatus into a press with cylindrical rotary platens powered by steam engines. As each new invention reduced the need for various kinds of skilled labor, it was met with understandable resistance from print shop workers. Nicolas Robert contributed his invention of an automated papermaking process using wood pulp to produce huge rolls of ready-made paper, further improved by the Fourdrinier brothers, and by the mid-19th century, Richard Hoe figured out how to feed these rolls directly into an improved rotary press. Linn Benton created a machine that could cast, compose, and justify lines of type. The Linotype was hailed by no less than Thomas Edison as an Eighth Wonder of the World. With each of these leaps, the number of pages that could be printed per hour skyrocketed and finally achieved a level that permitted the widespread establishment of daily newspapers, which themselves could barely keep up with the voracious demand for information from an ever-expanding world of readers.

Drawing of a Hoe four-cylinder rotary type-revolving press
Drawing of a Hoe four-cylinder rotary type-revolving press.The New International Encyclopædia, v. 16, 1905, "Printing," p. 408

But not everyone was obsessed with mass production at all costs. William Morris was an old-fashioned medievalist who set the tone for Victorian-era decoration, designing tapestries, wallpaper, fabrics, furniture, and stained-glass windows. Starting in the 1890s he devoted his late career to his Kelmscott Press, which produced books that looked back to the craftsmanship of pre-Gutenberg manuscripts. Morris designed his own fonts, used handmade paper and presses, and harmonized the typographic design, illustration, and materials into beautiful limited-edition fine art books. These were influential on artisans in the 20th century who sought to recapture natural beauty in the face of technological advancement, such as art nouveau and the Arts and Crafts movement exemplified by Frank Lloyd Wright.

The Well at the World's End, design by William Morris, Hammersmith, Kelmscott Press, 1896.
The Well at the World's End, design by William Morris, Hammersmith, Kelmscott Press, 1896. Daderot

The pace of book production increased exponentially through the 20th century. Typewriters became standard equipment in offices and newsrooms. Electricity replaced steam power. Offset printing produced sharp, ready-to-read pages more quickly and cheaply than ever and was soon adapted to color printing. Paperback printers made affordable books available everywhere. Another innovation that took off in the 20th century was the establishment of public library systems. Private, state, and university libraries had long existed, with a very limited degree of public access and paid subscription libraries. However, true civically-supported public libraries, open and lending books to all, did not come into being until the late 19th century. In fact it was private philanthropists in the United States like Andrew Carnegie who helped push for them, donating millions of dollars to build and stock thousands of libraries in the cause of public education. In 1876, Melvil Dewey published his Dewey Decimal System for classifying books, and that same year, the American Library Association was founded. Public library systems spread across the country and have been improving their freely offered collections, access, facilities, and expertise ever since.

Exterior view of Cahuenga Branch of the Los Angeles Public Library
Exterior view of Cahuenga Branch of the Los Angeles Public Library, located at 4591 Santa Monica Boulevard. It was built with a $35,000 grant from Andrew Carnegie. Architect C.H. Russell designed this Italian Renaissance-style building, which, at the time it opened in 1916, was intended to serve a community of workers in the then nearby orange and avocado groves and wheat fields

Computers massively increased the speed of automation and, eventually, the spread of texts themselves. The first commercially sold e-reader, the Rocket, was introduced in 1997, with the capacity to hold ten e-books. Much more powerful and reliable devices quickly superseded it. Despite centuries of development and improvement and their indispensable role in the human history of education, literacy, and scientific progress, E-books, and the internet are the main reasons why many now see print books as boring, old-fashioned, and unnecessary. Still, even as e-books are on the rise, they have a long way to go to replace print books, of which millions of new titles are still published every year, and billions of copies are sold around the world.

Rocket ebook
Introduced in 1998, the Rocket eBook was one of the first handheld e-book readers. Although a larger color model was also made, the Rocket was discontinued in 2000. (Image courtesy of Gemstar TV Guide International)

Some see print books as static and monotonous relative to the interactivity and multifariousness offered by the internet, especially the dawning power of generative artificial intelligence. Perhaps future e-books will be more engaging, multimedia, multi-authored, and gamified. There is already some movement in this direction for online university textbooks. Future novels might let readers customize their plots, like the Choose Your Own Adventure book series introduced by Edward Packer in 1979. Why should Tolstoy get to determine for us how Anna Karenina ends? Or maybe future books will be more like 'thunks,' to use tech leader Peter Wang's coinage in a recent online post—"nuggets of thought that can interact with the 'reader' in a dynamic and multimedia way…auto-generated based on the recipient's level of existing context and knowledge."

However, books evolve from here, it is doubtful that they will outpace the capacities of human bodies and minds unless those evolve too. Print books have worked so well for so long because they are suited to human hands, eyes, attention spans, and societies, and so far, they still are. The late Italian bibliophile Umberto Eco conducted an interview with Jean-Claude Carrière, published in 2012 as This Is Not the End of the Book. In his eloquent expression, whatever its materials, the need for a portable, legible, replicable, stable volume of written information is here to stay:

One of two things will happen: either the book will continue to be the medium for reading, or its replacement will resemble what the book has always been…The book is like the spoon, scissors, the hammer, the wheel. Once invented, it cannot be improved. You cannot make a spoon that is better than a spoon…The book has been thoroughly tested, and it's very hard to see how it could be improved on for its current purposes. Perhaps it will evolve in terms of components; perhaps the pages will no longer be made of paper. But it will still be the same thing.

Reading List

Book cover of The Oxford illustrated history of the book
The Oxford Illustrated History of the Book

Book cover of The book : the life story of a technology
The Book: The Life Story of a Technology
Howard, Nicole

Book cover of The book history reader
The Book History Reader

Book cover of A splendor of letters : the permanence of books in an impermanent world
A Splendor of Letters: The Permanence of Books in an Impermanent World
Basbanes, Nicholas A.

Book cover of The nature of the book : print and knowledge in the making
The Nature of the Book: Print and Knowledge in the Making
Johns, Adrian