Monday, October 3, 2016

The Book by Keith Houston

  • THE BOOK
    • The Book: A Cover-to-Cover Exploration of the Most Powerful Object of Our Time by Keith Houston
    • Published August 23, 2016
    • One other book by the author: Shady Characters: The Secret Life of Punctuation, Symbols & Other Typographical Marks

  • THE PREMISE
    • This is the history of books: from scrolls to cheap paperbacks. It also covers the general history of paper, inks, and illustrations. There's also an overview of the history of writing along with every method of printing technology.
    • Clay and wax tablets, papyrus, parchment, vellum, linen paper, wood paper, wood blocks, etchings, lithography, and more are covered.

  • MY THOUGHTS
    • I have read a few books about fonts. I read a book called Paper earlier this year. I am the ideal reader for a book like this!
    • I have only one complaint: reading descriptions about the various printing and illustrating processes is not necessarily easy to picture if you have no idea what any printing process looks like. 
      • Ideally, embedded videos would be nice! I bet this is a thing that will exist someday.
      • Google and YouTube are great for finding videos to fill in those gaps, however.
      • There are several illustrations which bring the topics alive even without videos!
    • The hardcover book itself is beautiful: book terms are defined on the cover and all through the book itself. 
    • There are copious footnotes which indicate the high level of research. Bonus: the footnotes are not the type where extra stories are included in them so you don't need to keep flipping to the back constantly while reading. 
      • I appreciate this because I find it interrupts the flow when I need to keep referring to the footnotes in the back of the book as I read. Those newsy kind of footnotes should be on the bottom of the text pages!
    • I loved this book and have already requested the author's first book, Shady Characters, from the library!
      • He has a blog that I may start following too.
    • Recommended for people who enjoy micro-history and/or the story of how books came to be.

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