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Portal:Books

The Books Portal

Johannes Trithemius'Polygraphiae (1518)

A book is a medium for recording information in the form of writing or images, typically composed of many pages (made of papyrus, parchment, vellum, or paper) bound together and protected by a cover. The technical term for this physical arrangement is codex (plural, codices). In the history of hand-held physical supports for extended written compositions or records, the codex replaces its 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 still considered as an investment of time to read. In a restricted sense, a book is a self-sufficient section or part of a longer composition, a usage reflecting that, in antiquity, long works had to be written on several scrolls and each scroll had to be identified by the book it contained. Each part of Aristotle's Physics is called a book. In an 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, crossword puzzles or cut-out dolls. In a physical book, the pages can be left blank or can feature an abstract set of lines to support entries, such as in an account book, an appointment book, an autograph book, a notebook, a diary or a sketchbook. 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 ebooks 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 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 is a bibliophile or colloquially, "bookworm". A place where books are traded is a bookshop or bookstore. Books are also sold elsewhere and can be borrowed from libraries. Google has estimated that by 2010, approximately 130,000,000 titles had been published. In some wealthier nations, the sale of printed books has decreased because of the increased usage of ebooks. (Full article...)

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Frontispiece and title page in an early posthumous edition, published by L. Wangford, c. 1777

The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy is a cookbook by Hannah Glasse (1708-1770) first published in 1747. It was a bestseller for a century after its first publication, dominating the English-speaking market and making Glasse one of the most famous cookbook authors of her time. The book ran through at least 40 editions, many of which were copied without explicit author consent. It was published in Dublin from 1748, and in America from 1805.

Glasse said in her note "To the Reader" that she used plain language so that servants would be able to understand it.

The 1751 edition was the first book to mention trifle with jelly as an ingredient; the 1758 edition gave the first mention of "Hamburgh sausages" and piccalilli, while the 1774 edition of the book included one of the first recipes in English for an Indian-style curry. Glasse criticised French influence of British cuisine, but included dishes with French names and French influence in the book. Other recipes use imported ingredients including cocoa, cinnamon, nutmeg, pistachios and musk.

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Diagram of a warship, From the 1728 Cyclopaedia, Volume 2.

Credit: Cyclopaedia

Diagrams of first and third rate warships in the Cyclopaedia: or, An Universal Dictionary of Arts and Sciences (folio, 2 vols.) an encyclopedia published by Ephraim Chambers in London in 1728, and reprinted in numerous editions in the 18th Century. The Cyclopaedia was one of the first general encyclopedias to be produced in English.

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Sarah Trimmer painted by Henry Howard in 1798

Sarah Trimmer (née Kirby; 6 January 1741 - 15 December 1810) was a writer and critic of 18th-century British children's literature, as well as an educational reformer. Her periodical, The Guardian of Education, helped to define the emerging genre by seriously reviewing children's literature for the first time; it also provided the first history of children's literature, establishing a canon of the early landmarks of the genre that scholars still use today. Trimmer's most popular children's book, Fabulous Histories, inspired numerous children's animal stories and remained in print for over a century.

Trimmer was also an active philanthropist. She founded several Sunday schools and charity schools in her parish. To further these educational projects, she wrote textbooks and manuals for women interested in starting their own schools. Trimmer's efforts inspired other women, such as Hannah More, to establish Sunday school programs and to write for children and the poor. (Full article...)

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Did you know...

  • ...that in English language works the table of contents is at the beginning of a book, but in French and Spanish ones it is at the back, by the index?
  • ...that print space determines the effective area on the paper of a book, journal or other press work, and is limited by the surrounding borders?
  • ...that the craft of bookbinding may have originated around the 1st century A.D.?

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