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Books: A Living History Hardcover – October 11, 2011


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: J. Paul Getty Museum; 1 edition (October 11, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 160606083X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1606060834
  • Product Dimensions: 10.2 x 7.9 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #132,378 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"In this sumptuously illustrated history of the book, Lyons covers a millennia of changes, from ancient Mesopotamian carvings to Gutenberg's innovations in printing, through the computer age and the advent of the Internet and e-readers."—Publishers Weekly 



"Besides giving us a visual journey of the book as a beautiful, aesthetic object, Lyons also shows how influential the book has been in shaping human history for 2,500 years."—Shelf Awareness



“An excellent introduction to the history, terminology, and trends in writing and reading books.”—Fine Books & Collections



“An ambitious, beautifully illustrated work.”—Choice



“A profusion of bibliophilic eye-candy.”—College & Research Library News



Books: A Living History celebrates the history and magic of the book, from cuneiform tablets to Harry Potter, looking along the way at related trends in literacy rates, the growth of new genres and book-related industries over the centuries, and printing revolutions.”—Book News

About the Author

Martyn Lyons is professor of history at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, and the author of A History of Reading and Writing in the Western World (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009) and Reading Culture and Writing Practices in Nineteenth-Century France (University of Toronto Press, 2008).


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Customer Reviews

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See all 9 customer reviews
This brief history of the book is informative and interesting throughout.
Shalom Freedman
He defines books as all forms of written communication, "from cuneiform script to the printed codex to the digitized electronic book."
Patrice Fagnant-macarthur
I have a Kindle App on my iPad & iPhone & I love reading on these devices too...but a book is special.
James Patrick Pope

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Hande Z on November 12, 2011
Format: Hardcover
This is a 217-page book which includes two pages of glossary and two pages of suggested further reading. It is not a small book but is handy and not very heavy although it is a hard cover book with good quality glossy pages. It is therefore portable although published in a coffee-table style, that is, it has lovely photgraphs, prints and drawings. The text accompanying each topic is short but fascinating and informative, for example, the difference between the papyrus and parchment. We see, for instance, beautiful ancient Chinese writing on strips of bamboo, a book form known as "jiance". The book goes beyond the history of books and informs us about early libraries, and has interesting pictures such as monastic libraries, the Great Library of Alexandria, and book stalls in places such as Bangladesh. The history segment includes brief accounts of children's books and Japanese "Manga", complete with picture samples. Equally useful are the accounts on copyright and the rise of book stores - nothing is said about their decline (except the reminder that "books don't need batteries") - even though the book conluded with two articles on the virtual book and the rise of digitization. The history of the book promises to be long and glorious.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By James Patrick Pope on January 1, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I bought this book as Christmas present to myself because it looked good & I found it read well & gave me access to ideas & some history of which I was unaware.

Part of the joy of books for me is the feel, the smell & intimacy of reading a book. I have a Kindle App on my iPad & iPhone & I love reading on these devices too...but a book is special. I enjoyed the reading experience for all the intangible reasons that mean books will be with us for the foreseeable future. Great proportions, colour, paper and fine writing. It was a good guest during these holidays.

The book is well presented with great illustrations & production values. The author writes well & delivers insight. Clearly the author has researched deeply & thought about what needed to be said & how to say it. The feeling I have is that the text has been edited down to fit the required space. I think the author has much more to say.

This title has all the elements of a book to be read, enjoyed & merits a in my library. That's all I can ever ask
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Shalom Freedman HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on January 17, 2014
Format: Hardcover
This brief history of the book is informative and interesting throughout. In one sense it is the story of how text, information, have moved from being the scarce property of a privileged few to being the over-abundant resource for almost all of humanity. What begins with the parchment and papyrus moves to the instant availability of the POD and E-book store today. But there are many notable chapters on the way. I enjoyed learning about the serialization of writing in the late eighteenth century and how that led to writers paid by the line to pile on the material, week after suspenseful week. I learned about the late-nineteenth century introduction of Copyright and too about the whole introduction of the royalty system for writers, who before this were paid a flat sum and not rewarded on the basis of sales. There was a good chapter on the Hebrew book. A troubling chapter considered the whole business of barring books , including the burning of them. We learn in this book about the introduction of the mass-market paperback and also about the way the profit-motive in large corporations has led to the takeover of much of the once more rich and varied world of book-publishing. There are chapters on kinds of books I knew nothing about, the Japanese 'manga' and the Russian 'luchi.'. We learn about the creation of Brittanica, the OED. and how the Wiki world of today has emerged. The author tells briefly the story of Google's effort at digitizing the world's libraries and how the dream of having all information in one single vast book may some day be realized.
I believe even most knowledgable book - lovers will learn something and greatly enjoy this delightedly illustrated work.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By G-L-O-R-I-A on April 30, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A perfect book for booklovers. It tells the history of the book up to our days in an elegant and simple style and is richly illustrated. A treat for the mind and for the eyes.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Hsiaoshuang on February 5, 2012
Format: Hardcover
A handy reference that tries to cover a huge subject; a book to dip into for bits of curious information about books; but not for serious research.

There are lots of interesting photos such as one showing Nazis burning books written by Jews and one showing British Muslims burning Salman Rushdie's book; see also the picture of a poster exhorting workers to read that I posted in the picture gallery; the author remarked that the pious hope of public librarians was that workers could develop themselves through reading serious literature, but alas all that the workers were interested in was reading light stuff.

What I like were photos of book covers when the books were first printed. (See example of The Three Musketeers in the picture gallery that I posted.)
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