from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Storage medium
Latin dictionary.jpg
Books in the reading room of the University Library Graz
lifespan up to centuries, depending on how carefully they are kept
predecessor Code
Book Icon

According to traditional understanding, a book (Latin liber ) is a collection of printed, written, painted or blank sheets of paper or other suitable materials, which are bound and usually also with a book cover (cover). According to the UNESCO definition, books are (for statistics) non-periodic publications with a length of 49 pages or more.

In addition, individual are plants or large text sections that are self-contained, as a book called, especially when part of a band are. This is especially the case with ancient works that consist of related book collections - examples of this are the Bible and other normative religious sacred scriptures , the Aeneid, and various ancient and medieval histories.

The book is a cultural product that has the overcoming of illiteracy as a prerequisite and takes the development of the written language as a basis. Its use as a means of communication requires writing or printing skills and reading skills .

Electronically stored book texts are called "digital books" or e-books . Another modern variant of the book is the audio book .


The word book ( Old High German buoh , Middle High German buoch ) was originally a plural form and probably meant first " rune sign ", then more generally "character" or "letter", later "document". A relationship to beech could be based on the fact that runes were carved into beech or beech wood, but this connection is uncertain (see also letter ). The Brothers Grimm see themselves strengthened in the assumption that the origin of the word book comes from beech.


Papyrus scroll and codex

Book production in Europe rose from a few tens of thousands to several hundred million copies from the early Middle Ages to the early modern period .
A printer in historical professional costume on a replica of a Gutenberg press at the Düsseldorf press exhibition in 1947

The oldest forerunners of the book were the papyrus scrolls of the Egyptians , of which the oldest known specimens from the 3rd millennium BC. Come from BC. (See also History of Writing , Ancient Egyptian Literature, and List of Papyri of Ancient Egypt ).

The Greeks and Romans took over the papyrus scrolls until the codex gradually replaced them from the 1st century onwards . The codex consisted of several layers of parchment , which were consecutively described on both sides, folded in the middle and attached to each other with a thread. Only later were the pages bound and given a hard cover. The Codex is the immediate forerunner of our book today.

From the 14th century on, parchment was gradually replaced by the cheaper and much easier to produce paper . The first paper mill in Germany was that of Ulman Stromer in Nuremberg in 1390.

Age of printing

The books printed by Johannes Gutenberg up to 1500 after the invention of the printing press (approx. 1450) are called incunabula or cradle prints (from the time when printing was still in the cradle). During the book printing revolution , the output of books in Europe multiplied.

In Korea , around 200 years before Johannes Gutenberg's invention, letterpress printing with movable metal letters was developed in Europe, presumably as a further development of Chinese printing technology with clay type, but remained little used.

The rapid spread of the new technology throughout Europe and the constant improvement and further development of book printing and the production of paper made books mass-produced, which was an essential prerequisite for the Reformation and later for the Enlightenment . Knowledge became common property in the West .

Writing and image were a unit in the book of the Middle Ages. In the 20th century, Bauhaus artists created books of a high level of design that can be assigned to the field of printmaking. These artist books appear in small limited editions.


The digital printing allowed with book-on-demand requirements in conventional book mold (paperback, hardcover) from a copy upwards. For a few years now, some online service providers have been offering the creation of photo books, which can then be ordered individually. Since 2009, articles on book-on-demand can be summarized in Wikipedia. The digital book has appeared on the online book market since 2000 . The internet also competes with the classic book.

The Internet company Google estimated (as of August 2010) that there are around 130 million different books in the world, but admitted that this was also a question of definition.

The UNESCO put 1995 April 23 as World Book firmly.

The book as a product


Turning the pages of a book, here a paperback, a small-format book with a usually soft cover

Today the book is primarily an object of daily use. This means that the book is subject to certain conditions of use. The material must correspond to these. It should be durable, tear-proof, flexible, light, aesthetic and much more. Some materials are listed here:

  • Paper : Not only the book block , i.e. the actual text part, is made of paper. The entire endpaper is also made of paper - but made of different types of paper than the text part. The text part can also consist of a wide variety of paper types, there are many cheap and expensive variants. The paper determines the price of a book in addition to that of the cover.
  • Cardboard : The cover of a book is usually made of sturdy cardboard, historically up to the early modern period also made of wood, which is covered with various cover materials . The slipcase is also usually made of cardboard.
  • Cover material, for example with fabric , linen , paper , leather or parchment .
  • Fabrics : For the headband or a bookmark ribbon , special ribbons, mostly made of silk, are made and dyed in different colors.
  • Color: Not only the book cover can be colored, but also the book cut . These cut decorations serve not only to decorate the book, but also to protect against exposure to light and dirt.


A bound book block , still without a book cover

A book has to be flexible, but also stable. There are many processes involved in book production ; the individual parts are usually manufactured separately and then finally put together.

The book block with its printed pages is connected to the book cover by the attachment . There is an attachment on the upper and lower side of the book block. These are connected to the spine of the book by gauze and glue and to the cover by the mirror . The cover material is placed around the book cover . The strip of cover material that sticks to the inner side of the mirror is called an envelope. Together these elements make up the book cover.

The "fold-down" to the outside of the cover elements call lid . In the case of bound books, often also called hard covers, a dust jacket is placed around the book cover .

The three edges of the book block at which the book can be opened are called the top cut (top), front and bottom cut . A colored cut has cut decorations .

The colored ribbon at the top and bottom of the book spine is called the headband , the bookmark - attached to the top of the book spine - is called the bookmark ribbon .

Book design

The book design conceives the entire appearance, structure and materials of the book. It is usually carried out by a book designer, artist and / or typographer . In addition to the font , front cover , pagina , type of paper , ribbon bookmark and headband , the cover is also designed - probably the most important task today: the cover must arouse curiosity, be exciting and attract attention. The binding should invite the potential reader to buy or rent.

Economics of the Book

Considered as an economic product, the book has several special features.

  • The benefits sometimes only become apparent to the buyer after the purchase and reading. Despite easily available reviews and ratings on the Internet, the reader may come to his own judgment, he may be positively or negatively surprised.
  • It is often difficult for the publisher to estimate the expected demand .
  • The product life cycle of books can be short or very long.

These peculiarities make the book a speculative economic good with high risks for the producer (publisher). In contrast to other media products, the book is usually only refinanced through one source of revenue, the sales revenue. As an advertising medium , the book only plays a subordinate role.

Book types

Differentiation by type of production

Bible from 1866
  • Bag book : Medieval special form. It can be carried like a pouch and attached to a belt.
  • Book-on-Demand : digital printing on demand; Book produced in small editions from one copy, additional copies can be printed at any time.
  • Paperback : Book block with various types of soft covers, usually perfect-bound.
  • E-book (electronic book): in various formats, electronically stored, some only readable on screen, some printable.
  • Facsimile : faithful reprint of historical editions.
  • Hardcover : Hard cover, perfect bound or with thread stitching.
  • Audiobook : Here authors or (more often) a narrator (sometimes several narrators in roles ) read the texts of an existing book. In some cases, radio plays , i.e. versions read in rolls or edited and interpreted as radio plays , are sold under the name of audio books. Audiobooks are sold and distributed on audio CD / music cassettes or as computer audio files . Some of them are also available via podcasts, mostly free of charge on the Internet.
  • Codex (plural: Codices): book that can be opened. In the early Middle Ages, this form replaced the scroll that had prevailed until then. The success of the code is closely related to the spread of Christianity. The principle of opening has not changed, but the term codex is usually used for books from antiquity and the Middle Ages.
  • Loose-leaf collection : Individual, interchangeable pages in one or more folders (e.g. as a ring binder, this does not mean the colloquial use of loose-leaf collection, which is not a book).
  • Miniature Book: Very small book. Mostly the reduced form of a capital book compressed to production size. Can be distinguished from paperback by hardcover binding.
  • Paperback : With a soft cover and mostly with adhesive binding, previously also with thread binding.
  • Paperback : Small format book, mostly paperback, suitable for transport.
  • Special edition: mostly for bibliophiles, a small partial edition of a title with special features (cover, paper, book decorations, illustrations)

Differentiation according to content

Books in the book store of the library of the Austrian Museum of Folklore
Old books in the library of Merton College


Content structure of books

The sections of a book include (partially optional, the order can also vary):

Outline of book pages

Statistics and records

Book ownership and reading in Germany

In a study from 2008, 57% of those questioned stated that there were fewer than 50 books in their household. In 23% of the households there were 50–100 books, in 12% 100–250 books and in 6% more than 250 books. According to a Forsa survey from 2017, 27% of Germans read more than 10 books a year, 19% read 6–10 books, 39% read up to 5 books, and 14% read no books at all. One of the most comprehensive studies of reading in Germany had the 2008 Federal Ministry of Education and Research in Reading Foundation commissioned.

Most printed book

The Bible is the most printed and widely distributed book in the world. According to the German Bible Society , translations of the entire Bible are available in 542 languages ​​and partial translations in 2344 other languages ​​(as of January 2015).

Smallest and largest book

The smallest book in the world comes from the Leipzig publishing house Faber & Faber . At 2.4 by 2.9 millimeters, it is comparatively the size of a match head. The 32 pages are printed with letter images in offset and leather-bound by hand.

In 2004, the car manufacturer Mazda brought out an illustrated book with the largest format in the world: 3.07 × 3.42 m.

High priced books


The prefix "Biblio-"

The word formation element Biblio- (or in the case of adjectives biblio- ), which comes from the Greek, means “book” or “books”. Examples:

Lists of "recommended" books

See also


  • Joachim Elias Zender (Ed.): Lexicon book, print, paper . Haupt, Bern 2008, ISBN 978-3-258-07370-5 .
  • Helmut Hiller, Stephan Füssel: Dictionary of the book . 7th edition. Klostermann, Frankfurt am Main 2006, ISBN 3-465-03495-3 .
  • Birgit Althaus: The book dictionary • Reference work for book makers and book lovers , area Verlag, Erftstadt 2004, ISBN 3-89996-256-7 .
  • Ursula Rautenberg (Hrsg.): Reclams Sachlexikon des Buches . Reclam, Stuttgart 2003, ISBN 3-15-010520-X .
  • Karl Klaus Walther (Ed.): Lexicon of book art and bibliophilia. Munich and (as a licensed edition) Augsburg 1994.
Book history
  • Fritz Funke: Book customer. The historical development of the book from cuneiform to the present . VMA-Verlag, Wiesbaden 2006, ISBN 3-928127-95-0 .
  • Hans-Peter Geh: On the history of the book in Germany (1450-1900) and on its documentation . August 25, 1995.
  • Marion Janzin, Joachim Güntner: The book from the book. 5000 years of book history . 3. Edition. Schlueter, Hannover 2007, ISBN 978-3-89993-805-0 .
  • Renate Schipke: The book in late antiquity. Production, form, equipment and distribution in the western half of the Roman Empire , Reichert, Wiesbaden 2013.
Future of the book
Book indexing, book use
Book making
  • Arthur W. Unger: How a book is made. Leipzig and Berlin 1907, 6th edition, ibid. 1927 (= Aus Natur und Geisteswelt , 1002).

Web links

Commons : Book  - album with pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: book  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wikiquote: Book  - Quotes

Individual evidence

  1. Recommendation concerning the International Standardization of Statistics Relating to Book Production and Periodicals. UNESCO , November 19, 1964, accessed on June 28, 2013 (English): “A book is a non-periodical printed publication of at least 49 pages, exclusive of the cover pages, published in the country and made available to the public; "
  2. Book ( Memento from September 2, 2015 in the Internet Archive )
  3. ^ Karl-Ernst Sommerfeldt , Günter Starke, Dieter Nerius (eds.): Introduction to the grammar and orthography of contemporary German. Bibliographisches Institut, Leipzig 1981, p. 23 f.
  4. ^ Duden online: book
  5. See. Online Etymology Dictionary on the origin of book (English)
  6. ^ "Book", in: German Dictionary by Jacob Grimm and Wilhelm Grimm, first edition (1854–1960), digitized version in the Digital Dictionary of the German Language, accessed on April 18, 2018
  7. Brockhaus will probably only be online in the future., accessed on March 8, 2011.
  8. dts news agency: Google counts around 130 million books worldwide , as of August 5, 2010, accessed on August 5, 2010.
  9. ^ World Book Day . Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels.
  10. How many books do you have on the shelf? In: statista. Retrieved January 18, 2018 .
  11. star survey. March 11, 2015, accessed January 18, 2018 .
  12. Read in Germany 2008. Retrieved January 18, 2018 .
  13. Information on the translation of the Bible at The status (January 2015) is given in the diagram.
  14. The SEK took over at the air base: The Heinrich Gospels came back to Germany 30 years ago., December 4, 2013.
  15. John J. Audubon's Birds of America (English)
  16., Informations, u. a. Via Christie's auction ( Memento of the original from January 17, 2012 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  17. Kopernikus: Altes neue Weltbild auctioned , Focus online, June 18, 2008, accessed on November 29, 2013.
  18. Duden online: biblio-, Biblio- .
  19. ^ Duden online: Bibliotherapy .
  20. Review by Dirk Rohmann , in: Historische Zeitschrift 300,3 (2015), p. 767.