Book consists of written or printed sheets of paper or some other material fastened together along one edge so it can be opened at any point. Most books have a protective cover. Books are a reasonably inexpensive and convenient way to store, transport, and find knowledge and information. The book thus ranks as one of humanity’s greatest inventions.
People have used books in some form for more than 5,000 years. In ancient times, people wrote on clay tablets, strips of wood, or other materials. The term book comes from the early English word boc, which means tablet or written sheets. The first printed books in Europe appeared during the mid-1400′s. Since then, millions of books have been printed on almost every subject and in every written language. Young readers are familiar with storybooks, textbooks, workbooks, and comic books. We often consult almanacs, dictionaries, encyclopedias, and telephone books for reference. We read novels, books of poetry, and printed versions of plays for entertainment.
The pages of a book are glued or sewed together along one side, called the spine or back. Two covers are joined by hinges to the spine. Books are either hardbound or softbound, depending on the cover. Most hardbound books have covers made of cloth, plastic, or leather over cardboard. A paper dust jacket is often added to protect the cover. Softbound books, called paperbacks, have paper covers. Usually, the book title and other information appear on a book’s spine and front cover as well as on its dust jacket.
Inside the front cover of a typical book is a collection of pages called the preliminary material. The material begins with a blank or decorated end paper, followed by the half-title page. The recto (front side) of this page carries the book’s title. The verso (back of the page) may be blank, or may carry a list of other books by the same author. Throughout the book, the verso is always an even-numbered page and the recto is always odd-numbered.
The title page carries the full title of the book and the author’s name on the recto. It also carries the imprint, which is the place and date of publication and the name of the publisher or company issuing the book. The verso of the title page contains additional publication information and a statement of copyright, which is a notification that the book’s contents are the property of the author or publisher. In the earliest printed books, the information now carried on the title page appeared at the end of the book in a statement called the colophon. The illustration that faces the title page is called the frontispiece.
The preface follows the title page. In the preface, the author discusses various aspects of the creation of the book. The table of contents usually comes at the end of the preliminary material. It lists in order the book’s main topics or the headings of the individual units and their page numbers.
The text is the main part of the book. The text is usually divided into separate parts called chapters or books. The text may also include illustrations. In many books, several sections follow the text. The appendix contains notes, charts, tables, lists, or other detailed information discussed in the text. Many books have an index, which lists in alphabetical order important subjects, names, and places in the text. The index gives the page number where the reader can find these items in the text. Finally, some books have a bibliography that lists sources used by the author in writing the book. The bibliography also lists additional sources on subjects in the text.