The History of the Book in 100 Books: The Complete Story, from Egypt to E-Book


Product Details

Firefly Books
Publish Date
7.9 X 0.9 X 9.7 inches | 2.5 pounds
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About the Author

Roderick Cave is a print historian and librarian who has worked with rare book collections and developed information science courses in libraries and universities around the world. He is the author of Impressions of Nature: A History of Nature Printing.

Sara Ayad is an art historian and picture researcher, with a special interest in book history.


[Review of hardcover edition: ] This title is sumptuously produced and intellectually rigorous. Cave, the author of many books on printing and librarianship, is a leader in book history studies. Ayad's experience includes publishing, antiquarian books, and archival research. Beginning with Spanish cave paintings, the authors cover the history of information transmission up to the present. Each of the 100 objects selected is described in detail, and the reproductions of selected portions are perfect. Arranged chronologically and thematically, sample chapters include "Medieval Worlds and the Book," "Printing and the Enlightenment," and "Digitization and the Future of the Book." Certain themes reappear, such as religion, the transmission of practical information, books for children, and scientific publishing, with particular attention paid to books as objects. The text provides information on printing processes, paper and other supports, and aspects of publishing. At the end of each entry is a "Connections" section that leads curious readers to similar publications in different parts of the book. The bibliography refers readers to print and electronic references. Summing up: Highly recommended. Lower-level undergraduates through researchers/faculty; General readers.-- (03/01/2015)
[Review of hardcover edition: ] (star) Print historian, librarian, and consultant (UNESCO; the British Library) Cave and picture researcher Ayad expand what readers think of as books. Their sumptuous work discusses and portrays its 100 items on a spread each, arranged in chapters on eras. These books and accompanying crisp color photos are fascinating enough by themselves, but the information on each item and the world it came from is what makes this exciting browse also an interdisciplinary treasure. Everyone from teens doing reports on the civilizations in question to librarians pondering the roots of their vocation will find this work absorbing. [Review of hardcover edition: ] Roderick Cave and picture researcher Sara Ayad discuss and portray 100 "books" on a spread each, arranged in chapters on eras. They begin with ancient cave paintings and tally sticks and continue through 12th-century Indian palm-leaf manuscripts, the Archimedes Palimpsest (1229), and Ptolemy's 1482 Cosmographia to items that resemble what we read today. The book and accompanying crisp color photos are absorbing enough by themselves, but the information on each item and the world it came from make this exciting browse an interdisciplinary treasure as well.-- (11/01/2014)
[Review of hardcover edition: ] Books still appear to be alive and well and popular as ever. The History of the Book in 100 Books shows how many key books were created. The authors have taken the printed word from its inception, creating a book that will impress scholars and those who love to read.-- (06/01/2015)
[Review of hardcover edition: ] Inviting to book lovers and history buffs alike, this lushly illustrated book compiles one hundred works that have shaped the reading world and played principal roles in the evolution of writing. From tomb walls to papyrus scrolls, Aesop's fables to dime novels--and across all genres and continents except Antarctica--this collection is an insightful visual treat.-- (05/01/2015)
It seems as if written books are becoming less and less popular, but authors Roderick Cave and Sara Ayad still believe in the value of paper and binding. In the beautifully illustrated collection of what they believe are 100 of the most important books throughout time, Cave and Ayad paint the picture of spoken and written language and how it has evolved with society. From bamboo scrolls and cave paintings, all the way through the printing press, and finally looking into e-books and the fate of the physical copy, The History of the Book in 100 Books is more than just a coffee table decoration.-- (12/18/2015)
(review of UK edition) It would be difficult enough selecting 100 books just in Britain to represent the history of the book from scrolls to codices, to manuscripts to printed books to e-books. And then there's what's in the books... so authors Roderick Cave and Sara Ayad really did have a task on their hands when they took on all the books of the world!... The History of the Book in 100 Books is comprehensive and has details of a very wide range of selected books. There is also an extensive bibliography for those who want to read more, and a detailed glossary. Each opening spread has a very useful "Connections" section so that it's possible to look at other related books. If you're stuck for a gift for the person who has everything, then this could well be the answer!-- (12/12/2014)
(review of UK edition) Each exhibit is well illustrated, often with multiple pictures, and supporting text... The book is handsomely produced, and we can welcome it as a celebration and showcase of books from the earliest times to the present which are interesting for all kinds of reasons.-- (12/01/2014)
(review of Australian edition) The most pleasing aspect of the book is perhaps its global coverage with items, for example, from Korea, Burma and Ethiopia... A History of the Book in 100 Books is a well-priced compendium of entries that reveal the depth and breadth of human communication and knowledge. Many will take comfort in Cave and Ayad's conclusion that the traditional book still has a long future.-- (04/17/2015)
(review of UK edition) Roderick Cave and Sara Ayad's very attractive new volume is one well worth adding to your library, but don't be misled: the one hundred books featured here -- note the title --set out to tell the history of the book rather than history, or even the history of ideas, through the book. So this is not one of those Books That Tell You What You Should Have Read And Who Knows Still Might If You Get To Retire. Cave and Ayad's intention rather is to show, through a historical survey of the book as artifact, the wide range of physical forms this information package has taken, the wide range of societies and cultures in which it has found a place and the wide range of purposes to which it has been adapted.... It does not seek to systematically address the links between all of the players involved in book history: authors (whether single or in collaboration, open or pseudonymous), publishers, printers, shippers, booksellers, readers and reviewers. What it does, it does excellently, but it is perhaps more in the nature of an exhibition on or museum of the book (or other information carrier) than a history of its material conditions or cultural role. Thus it ranges widely, making frequent short stops: chronologically, it takes us from cave painting to e-readers, and covers the products of Far Eastern, Islamic and Judaic as well as classical and Western cultures, scientific books and maps, manuscripts, early printed books, encyclopedias, dictionaries, bibles, children's books, pornography, guidebooks, cookbooks, braille books, samizdat books, artists' and paper engineers' books. And the whole ensemble is splendidly illustrated.-- (12/01/2014)
The volume is not just an affordable coffee table book with all-glossy, illustrated pages... It is also, arguably, a feast for the senses with the first turn of the page, a visual cornucopia of images carefully curated -- and that make you want to read more... I would be remiss if I didn't add that one problem -- if you can call it that -- with this book is that you can get lost for hours chomping on its visual bait hooks, only to look up at the clock and oops! You just forgot to be somewhere or do something on your daily fridge-list. Which makes "The History of the Book in 100 Books" a must-have for all bibliophiles, as well as those who, like Erasmus, might find a bit of spare change in their pockets.-- (03/27/2019)
(review of UK edition) Although a significant proportion of the 100 exemplars are the manuscripts and printed volumes which we might expect from the title, the authors commendably broaden out the scope of the work in three ways. They avoid an overly western focus, by including material from around the world. They take a broad understanding of "book", including carved bones, Incas khipus, Indian palm leaves, text reels, and "antibooks". And they include clear accounts of the, sometimes overlooked, techniques of book production throughout history, rather than simply focusing on the results in terms of their 100 exemplars. Somehow the subject of books seems to bring out the best in writers who seek both to provide authoritative scholarly information and also to produce an attractive and readable book in itself. The authors have succeeded admirably here, with a good choice of topics, clear and detailed text and excellent illustrations.-- (11/01/2014)