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Johannes Trithemius'Polygraphiae (1518)

As a physical object, a book is a stack of usually rectangular pages (made of papyrus, parchment, vellum, or paper) oriented with one edge tied, sewn, or otherwise fixed together and then bound to the flexible spine of a protective cover of heavier, relatively inflexible material. The technical term for this physical arrangement is codex (in the plural, codices). In the history of hand-held physical supports for extended written compositions or records, the codex replaces its immediate predecessor, the scroll. A single sheet in a codex is a leaf, and each side of a leaf is a page.

As an intellectual object, a book is prototypically a composition of such great length that it takes a considerable investment of time to compose and a still considerable, though not so extensive, investment of time to read. This sense of book has a restricted and an unrestricted sense. In the restricted sense, a book is a self-sufficient section or part of a longer composition, a usage that reflects the fact that, in antiquity, long works had to be written on several scrolls, and each scroll had to be identified by the book it contained. So, for instance, each part of Aristotle's Physics is called a book, as of course the Bible encompasses many different books. In the unrestricted sense, a book is the compositional whole of which such sections, whether called books or chapters or parts, are parts.

The intellectual content in a physical book need not be a composition, nor even be called a book. Books can consist only of drawings, engravings, or photographs, or such things as crossword puzzles or cut-out dolls. In a physical book the pages can be left blank or can feature an abstract set of lines as support for on-going entries, i.e., an account book, an appointment book, a log book, an autograph book, a notebook, a diary or day book, or a sketch book. Some physical books are made with pages thick and sturdy enough to support other physical objects, like a scrapbook or photograph album. Books may be distributed in electronic form as e-books and other formats.

Although in ordinary academic parlance a monograph is understood to be a specialist academic work, rather than a reference work on a single scholarly subject, in library and information science monograph denotes more broadly any non-serial publication complete in one volume (book) or a finite number of volumes (even a novel like Proust's seven-volume In Search of Lost Time), in contrast to serial publications like a magazine, journal, or newspaper. An avid reader or collector of books or a book lover is a bibliophile or colloquially, "bookworm". A shop where books are bought and sold is a bookshop or bookstore. Books are also sold elsewhere. Books can also be borrowed from libraries. Google has estimated that as of 2010, approximately 130,000,000 distinct titles had been published. In some wealthier nations, the sale of printed books has decreased because of the use of e-books, though sales of e-books declined in the first half of 2015.

Selected article

The Log from the Sea of Cortez is a book written by John Steinbeck, published in 1951, which details a six-week marine specimen-collecting boat expedition he made in 1940 at various sites in the Gulf of California (also known as the Sea of Cortez), with his friend, marine biologist Ed Ricketts. It is regarded as one of Steinbeck's most important works of non-fiction chiefly because of the involvement of Ricketts, who shaped Steinbeck's thinking and provided the prototype for many of the pivotal characters in his fiction, and the insights it gives into the philosophies of the two men.The Log from the Sea of Cortez is the narrative portion of an unsuccessful earlier work, Sea of Cortez: A Leisurely Journal of Travel and Research, which was published by Steinbeck and Ricketts shortly after their return from the Gulf of California, and combined the journals of the collecting expedition, reworked by Steinbeck, with Ricketts' species catalogue. After Ricketts' death in 1948, Steinbeck dropped the species catalogue from the earlier work and republished it with a eulogy to his friend added as a foreword.

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Studies of Embryos by Leonardo da Vinci (Pen over red chalk 1510-1513)

Credit: Leonardo da Vinci

A page from Leonardo Leonardo da Vinci's journal showing his study of a foetus in the womb (c.1510) Royal Library, Windsor Castle.

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March 14, 2012

After a 244-year span in print, the Encyclopædia Britannica will discontinue its published volumes. With less than 1% of revenue coming from print versions, Jorge Cauz, Britannica's president, indicates there simply is not sufficient demand for the print publication. In the last 11 years demand has plummeted due to competition from Wikipedia and Britannica's own digital version. Britannica peaked in sales in 1990 with 120,000 sets sold. The 2010 edition will be the last in print and has sold 8,000 sets to date; with 4,000 sets remaining.

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Joseph Johnson (engraving by William Sharp after a painting by Moses Haughton)
Joseph Johnson (15 November 1738 – 20 December 1809) was an influential eighteenth-century London bookseller. His publications covered a wide variety of genres and a broad spectrum of opinions on important issues. Johnson is best known for publishing the works of radical thinkers such as Mary Wollstonecraft, William Godwin, and Joel Barlow as well as religious Dissenters such as Joseph Priestley, Anna Laetitia Barbauld, and Gilbert Wakefield.In the 1760s, Johnson established his publishing business, which focused primarily on religious works. He also became friends with Priestley and the artist Henry Fuseli—two relationships that lasted his entire life and brought him much business. In the 1770s and 1780s, Johnson expanded his business, publishing important works in medicine and children's literature as well as the popular poetry of William Cowper and Erasmus Darwin. Throughout his career, Johnson helped shape the thought of his era not only through his publications, but also through his support of innovative writers and thinkers. He fostered the open discussion of new ideas, particularly at his famous weekly dinners, the regular attendees of which became known as the "Johnson Circle".

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Augustine Birrell - Project Gutenberg eText 13220.png


Did you know...

Gutenberg Bible.jpg
  • ...that by 2007, the Bible was translated into 429 languages, with portions of it translated in 2,426 languages?(Pictured)
  • ...that Muslims believe that the Qur’ān is the book of divine guidance and direction for mankind?
  • ...that the Rig Veda is one of the oldest religious texts?

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