What Is a Book?

Books are a medium for recording information, typically consisting of many sheets (usually made of paper or other material) bound together and protected by a cover. The technical term for this physical arrangement is codex, derived from the Latin word for “book.” In the history of hand-held physical supports for extended written compositions or records, the codex replaced its predecessor, the scroll, which was used in the ancient world as well as throughout Europe and Asia.

The form and content of a book are often determined by its author or publishers. A book may have a number of different kinds of information, including text, graphics, photographs and audio or video recordings. The information in a book can be printed on the pages, in an electronic format or both.

A book may also be printed on a machine, which uses toner rather than ink. The printing process is called offset lithography, and the pages are positioned on the plate so that the finished book will be folded and trimmed in a correct sequence after printing.

In the United States and Canada, the ISBN identifies the edition of a book published by a commercial publisher. Other systems of identification for books include the Library of Congress Classification system, and the Dewey Decimal System.

An ISBN can be used to identify a single book or a collection of books, and the designation of a particular book can help in locating it in a library catalogue. The ISBN is often printed on the front cover of a book, and can also be found on the spine.

Some libraries require all books in their collections to have an ISBN. This is to ensure that the books are retrieved from the library’s shelves in the same order as they were received, and to prevent the sale of duplicate copies of an identical book. In addition, the ISBN can be used to identify the source of the material in the book, which is important for a librarian to track.

Another common practice for cataloguing books is the use of a call number, which is based on a Library of Congress classification system and is placed on the cover or on the spine. The call number enables a librarian to search a database of all books in the collection by that number and to locate them on shelves.

Other kinds of book include instruction manuals, which provide step-by-step instructions on how to do something or to use certain equipment. Cookbooks and home improvement guides are popular types of how-to books, while textbooks are primarily used for educational purposes in school.

Books can be purchased from bookstores, or through online retailers, such as Amazon. The most common format for book sales is the hardcover, but there are also softcover, paperback and even e-books available.

The best books are ones that touch you deeply from page one. This year’s most compelling novels are about overcoming trauma, loving, forgiveness and grace, or finding hope in the face of adversity.