The Book: A Cover-To-Cover Exploration of the Most Powerful Object of Our Time

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Product Details

$29.95  $27.85
W. W. Norton & Company
Publish Date
5.7 X 8.3 X 1.5 inches | 2.05 pounds

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About the Author

Keith Houston is the author of Shady Characters and The Book. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times, Mental Floss, BBC Culture, and on He lives in Birmingham, England.


This engaging volume should satisfy a wide cross-section of book lovers, history buffs, and those interested in the dynamic relationship among language, the written word, and human ingenuity.--Rebecca Brody (06/01/2016)
A lovingly designed and illustrated deep history of the book.--John Williams (06/01/2016)
Keith Houston's deft history of the object wraps entire civilizations into the telling, propelling us through the evolution of writing, printing, binding and illustration with gusto.--Barbara Kiser, books and arts editor of Nature magazine (06/01/2016)
[A] masterful and overwhelmingly entertaining volume, both an homage to the book and one itself to be cherished by readers everywhere.--Clea Simon (06/01/2016)
We bibliomaniacs have a soulmate in Keith Houston . . . riveting.--Alan Taylor (06/01/2016)
Savor this deeply researched love letter to every bibliophiles favorite thing . . . a scholarly and light-hearted review of everything you want to know on the origins of the written language, the media upon which it is captured, and its methods of illustration, reproduction, and distribution.--Jennifer Bort Yacovissi
Splendidly comprehensive and tactile.--Russell Leadbetter
Invitingly tactile. . . . Sure to delight book lovers of all stripes with its lush, full-color illustrations, THE BOOK gives us the momentous and surprising history behind humanity's most important--and universal--information technology.
Everybody who has ever read a book will benefit from the way Keith Houston explores the most powerful object of our time. And everybody who has read it will agree that reports of the book's death have been greatly exaggerated.--Erik Spiekermann, Professor at University of the Arts Bremen
A love letter to the physical book, this is a fascinating and erudite telling of how it came into being. . . . Hugely enlightening.-- (06/01/2016)
Erudite, playful, and illuminating. . . . Houston is both witty and intensely detailed, thus appealing both to general readers and to bibliophiles who will wish to know the specifics of making papyrus, of stitching together pages, and of learning how we arrived at today's paper sizes. . . . A splendid, challenging mixture of information and fun.-- (06/01/2016)
Houston's fixation with this object is a delight, and his understanding of how history is written and his clear delineation between speculation and established fact are very refreshing.-- (06/20/2016)
This witty and mischievous tome traces the evolution from papyrus to paperback in 448 pages. It's an optimistic ode to one of mankind's greatest inventions, which continues to thrive even against the onslaught of e-readers.--The Monocle Minute