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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 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. 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 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 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 e-books. (Full article...)

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The Voynich manuscript is written in an unknown script.

The Voynich manuscript is a mysterious illustrated book written in an indecipherable text. It is thought to have been written between approximately 1450 and 1520 by an unknown author in an unidentified script and language.Over its recorded existence, the Voynich manuscript has been the object of intense study by many professional and amateur cryptographers, including some top American and British codebreakers of World War II fame (all of whom failed to decrypt a single word). This string of failures has turned the Voynich manuscript into a famous subject of historical cryptology, but it has also given weight to the theory that the book is simply an elaborate hoax — a meaningless sequence of arbitrary symbols. The book is named after the Polish-American book-dealer Wilfrid M. Voynich, who acquired it in 1912. As of 2005, the Voynich manuscript is item MS 408 in the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library of Yale University. The first facsimile edition was published in 2005.

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Plates vi & vii of the Edwin Smith Papyrus at the Rare Book Room, New York Academy of Medicine.

Credit: author unknown

The Edwin Smith Papyrus is an Ancient Egyptian textbook on trauma surgery, written in hieratic around the 19th century BC, but thought to be based on material from a thousand years earlier. It is the world's earliest known example of medical literature.

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Thomas Ruggles Pynchon Jr. (, commonly ; born May 8, 1937) is an American novelist. A MacArthur Fellow, he is noted for his dense and complex novels. His fiction and non-fiction writings encompass a vast array of subject matter, genres and themes, including history, music, science, and mathematics. For Gravity's Rainbow, Pynchon won the 1973 U.S. National Book Award for Fiction.

Hailing from Long Island, Pynchon served two years in the United States Navy and earned an English degree from Cornell University. After publishing several short stories in the late 1950s and early 1960s, he began composing the novels for which he is best known: V. (1963), The Crying of Lot 49 (1966), and Gravity's Rainbow (1973). His 2009 novel Inherent Vice was adapted into a feature film of the same name by director Paul Thomas Anderson in 2014. Pynchon is notoriously reclusive from the media; few photographs of him have been published, and rumors about his location and identity have circulated since the 1960s. Pynchon's most recent novel, Bleeding Edge, was published on September 17, 2013. (Full article...)

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Did you know...

Celsuslibrary-DK.jpg
  • ...that Celsus Library was built in 135 A.D. and could house around 12,000 scrolls?(Pictured)
  • ...that following the advice of minister Li Si, Emperor Qin Shi Huang ordered the burning of all philosophy books and history books from states other than Qin -- beginning in 213 BC?
  • ...that according to the Torah in the fourth year of the reign of King Jehoiakim of Judah the prophet Jeremiah dictated the words of the Lord to Baruch, who wrote them in ink upon a roll of a book?

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