Portal:Books
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Portal:Books

Introduction

Books

A book is both a usually portable physical object and the body of immaterial representations or intellectual object whose material signs--written or drawn lines or other two-dimensional media--the physical object contains or houses.

As a physical object, a book is a stack of usually rectangular pages (made of papyrus, parchment, vellum, or paper) oriented with one side (either left or right, depending on the direction in which one reads a script) tied, sewn, or otherwise fixed together and then bound to the flexible spine of a protective cover of heavier, relatively inflexible material so that, when the opened front cover has received a massy enough stack of sheets, the book can lie flat. The technical term for this physical arrangement is codex (in the plural, codices). In the history of hand-held physical supports for extended written compositions or records, the codex replaces its immediate predecessor, the scroll.

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 a still considerable, though not so extensive, investment of time to read. This sense of book has a restricted and an unrestricted sense. In the 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. So, for instance, each part of Aristotle's Physics is called a book, as of course the Bible encompasses many different books. In the unrestricted sense, a book is the compositional whole of which such sections, whether called books or chapters or parts, are parts.

But the intellectual content in a physical book need not be a composition, or can be called a book. Books can consist only of drawings, engravings, or photographs, or such things as crossword puzzles or cut-out dolls. In a physical book the pages can be left blank or can feature an abstract set of lines as support for on-going entries, i.e., an account book, an appointment book, a log book, an autograph book, a notebook, a diary or day book, or a sketch book. 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. In its "Revised Recommendation concerning the International Standardization of Statistics on the Production and Distribution of Books, Newspapers and Periodicals" of 1 November 1985, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) stated that it was "convinced that it is desirable that the national authorities responsible for collecting and reporting statistics relating to the production and distribution of printed publications should be guided by certain standards in the matter of definitions, classification and presentation," and so "in order to improve the international comparability of statistics," it defined a book as "a non-periodic publication of at least 49 pages exclusive of the cover pages, published in the country and made available to the public" (11(a)), so that books statistics could be collected on "(a) Government publications, i.e., publications issued by public administrations or their subsidiary bodies, except for those which are confidential or designed for internal distribution only; (b) School textbooks, books prescribed for pupils receiving education at the first and second level as defined in the revised Recommendation concerning the International Standardization of Educational Statistics adopted by the General Conference; (c) University theses; (d) Offprints, i.e., reprints of a part of a book or a periodical already published, provided that they have a title and a separate pagination and that they constitute a distinct work; (e) Publications which form part of a series, but which constitute separate bibliographical units; (f) Illustrated works: (i) Collections of prints, reproductions of works of art, drawings, etc., when such collections form complete, paginated volumes and when the illustrations are accompanied by an explanatory text, however short, referring to these works or to the artists themselves; (ii) Albums, illustrated books and pamphlets written in the form of continuous narratives, with pictures illustrating certain episodes; (iii) Albums and picture-books for children; (iv) Comic books" (9-10). A single sheet in a codex is a leaf, and each side of a leaf is a page.

Although in ordinary academic parlance a monograph is understood to be a specialist academic work, rather than a reference work on a single 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 or a book lover is a bibliophile or colloquially, "bookworm". A shop where books are bought and sold is a bookshop or bookstore. Books are also sold elsewhere. Books can also be borrowed from libraries. Google has estimated that as of 2010, approximately 130,000,000 distinct titles had been published. In some wealthier nations, the sale of printed books has decreased because of the use of e-books, though sales of e-books declined in the first half of 2015.

Selected article

First edition of Oroonoko, 1688

Oroonoko is a short novel by Aphra Behn (June 10, 1640 – April 16, 1689), published in 1688, concerning the tragic love of its hero, an enslaved African in Surinam in the 1660s, and the author's own experiences in the new South American colony. It is generally claimed (most famously by Virginia Woolf) that Aphra Behn was the first professional female author in English, living entirely by her own earnings. While this is not entirely true, Behn was the first professional female dramatist, as well as one of the first English novelists, male or female. Although she had written at least one novel previously, Aphra Behn's Oroonoko is both one of the earliest English novels and one of the earliest by a woman.Behn worked for Charles II as a spy during the outset of the Second Dutch War, working to solicit a double agent. However, Charles either failed to pay her for her services or failed to pay her all that he owed her, and Behn, upon returning to England, needed money.

Selected image

A panorama showing an almost 180-degree view of the interior of the Reading Room.

Credit: Diliff

The British Museum Reading Room, situated in the centre of the Great Court of the British Museum, used to be the main reading room of the British Library. In 1997, this function moved to the new British Library building at St Pancras, London, but the Reading Room remains in its original form.

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In the news

Read and edit Wikinews

March 14, 2012

After a 244-year span in print, the Encyclopædia Britannica will discontinue its published volumes. With less than 1% of revenue coming from print versions, Jorge Cauz, Britannica's president, indicates there simply is not sufficient demand for the print publication. In the last 11 years demand has plummeted due to competition from like2do.com resource and Britannica's own digital version. Britannica peaked in sales in 1990 with 120,000 sets sold. The 2010 edition will be the last in print and has sold 8,000 sets to date; with 4,000 sets remaining.

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Selected biography

Joseph Johnson (engraving by William Sharp after a painting by Moses Haughton)
Joseph Johnson (15 November 1738 - 20 December 1809) was an influential eighteenth-century London bookseller. His publications covered a wide variety of genres and a broad spectrum of opinions on important issues. Johnson is best known for publishing the works of radical thinkers such as Mary Wollstonecraft, William Godwin, and Joel Barlow as well as religious Dissenters such as Joseph Priestley, Anna Laetitia Barbauld, and Gilbert Wakefield.In the 1760s, Johnson established his publishing business, which focused primarily on religious works. He also became friends with Priestley and the artist Henry Fuseli—two relationships that lasted his entire life and brought him much business. In the 1770s and 1780s, Johnson expanded his business, publishing important works in medicine and children's literature as well as the popular poetry of William Cowper and Erasmus Darwin. Throughout his career, Johnson helped shape the thought of his era not only through his publications, but also through his support of innovative writers and thinkers. He fostered the open discussion of new ideas, particularly at his famous weekly dinners, the regular attendees of which became known as the "Johnson Circle".

Selected quote

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow - Project Gutenberg eText 16786.jpg


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