A book is a piece of paper, or a stack of paper, containing text or images, that has been bound together to form an object with an external cover. The term “book” has a variety of meanings depending on the context, but it is often used to refer to a composition composed by a single author or group of authors and containing multiple pages, such as an essay or poetry collection.
Books are usually divided into genres, such as fiction and non-fiction. The latter includes history, political, social and cultural issues, as well as autobiographies and memoirs.
Fiction is generally defined as creative literature, primarily written in prose. This category also includes poetry and other forms of literary art.
Some types of fiction can be categorized by the type of story it tells, such as novel or short story. A novel, for example, is a long, complex, multi-layered story that combines plot, character and theme into a cohesive whole.
Other types of fiction include comics, graphic novels and manga, as well as works based on television shows or other media. Some of these are marketed as “ebooks,” which is a portmanteau of the word ebook and book, or as an alternative to books.
Digital books are a popular means of publishing, but the print book still retains a significant share of sales. Some publishers also publish books in other formats, such as audiobooks.
In the Middle Ages, monasteries and universities had collections of books that could be studied by members of the public. Typically these were not available for borrowing and books were chained to reading stands to prevent theft.
The physical arrangement of many pages of a book (made of papyrus, parchment or vellum) fastened to each other and bound together with a cover is called a codex. This is an important development in the history of hand-held physical supports for long written compositions or records, replacing the scroll, a folded sheet of paper.
A book may also be made of an abstract set of lines that can be filled in by the reader, such as a diary or a notebook. The pages of a book may be blank or be filled in with drawings, engravings or photographs.
There are also books that contain the financial or business records of a company or other institution, as in a book of accounts or a book of stock certificates. Some types of book are private, such as appointment or autograph books, and others are for educational purposes, like workbooks.
Books are also a popular form of entertainment, such as novels and plays. These can be very serious or very light, and they are a great way to immerse yourself in a story.
The earliest books were created from parchment, a material made from animal hide or calf skin. The parchment was then processed by hand, and the pages were often stitched or glued together. The parchment was then covered with a wood or leather cover, and the book became an artifact of its time.