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 first known information repository to be arranged in this way was the codex, which replaced the scroll and was the first type of book. The first reference to the codex as a book is from Martial in Apophoreta CLXXXIV at the end of the first century, and this was considered to be its primary use until the invention of movable type in Europe in 1450.
A “book” is the surprisingly intricate outcome of more and less coordinated human labors. Kirschenbaum, an American bibliographer and scholar, explains that books can tell us much about the world they came from and the way we live in it.
Depending on their genre, books can vary in scope and style. They can range from works of art to political analysis to fiction.
Some works of literature have become foundational elements in culture and have been used to influence society in ways that are not often recognized today. Examples of such works include A Dictionary of the English Language, Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville, and Walden by Henry David Thoreau.
Other types of books are more general, such as encyclopedias and handbooks. An encyclopedia, for example, contains a collection of articles that provide extensive coverage of a specific topic or subject. A dictionary, on the other hand, tries to list words, their etymology, meanings and other information.
These kinds of books are usually intended for public reading. They can be expensive, and they are usually printed in bulk. Some of them are also available in digital versions, such as ebooks or e-magazines.
They can be used as reference tools by professionals in their field, or for personal research purposes. For this reason, scholarly publishers like university presses are very selective about the works they publish.
Most of them are indexed in one of the most established systems of cataloging books, the Dewey Decimal System or the Library of Congress Classification system. These systems are biased toward subjects that were well represented in the United States libraries when they were developed, and have problems dealing with new subjects.
Some scholarly books are categorized and indexed by specialized software, called metadata. This can include the author, title and subject of the book, as well as the publisher and date of publication. Metadata can be helpful in identifying books that are of interest to researchers, and in determining whether they are relevant to the current research being conducted.
In some cases, the contents of a book can be determined by the reader or the author, such as in an essay, poem, or short story. This can be done in a number of ways, including reading a description or annotations in the text.
Some authors create fictional worlds that are based on real people, places and events, in order to explore the social conditions of those places and times. In this way, the book can become a representation of reality, but also be a reflection on human values and morals.