What is a Book?


A book is a written document that communicates ideas and information. Books can be physical or electronic. Physical books are made of pages that are thick enough to support the writing and reading of text, but they may also contain images, drawings, crossword puzzles, photographs or even a cut-out doll. Books can serve as a literary work, a reference tool or as a source of inspiration. They can also be used as the subject of social or academic discussion, such as a book club or as part of an assignment for a school class.

The development of the printing press in the fifteenth century transformed books into an industrial product, generating jobs for writers, proofreaders and publishers. The invention of the internet and digital media, however, has changed the nature of the book. The availability of inexpensive handheld computing devices such as e-readers, tablets and mobile phones, has made the digital version of a book more popular than ever.

In recent years the book has shifted from paper to digital, and from desktop publishing to print-on-demand technology that allows the creation of books by printing each one individually when it is ordered. This has allowed new types of books to be created, such as audiobooks or ebooks. The popularity of these new formats has also changed the rate at which new books are published, sometimes referred to as an information explosion or an information glut.

Among the most famous and influential books in history are The Bible, the work of Irish author James Joyce, Ulysses, the 1920 novel that follows the journey of the protagonist’s character through a series of episodes including encounters with religious figures, adultery, and nationalism; The Catcher in the Rye, J. D. Salinger’s coming-of-age story of a cynical 16-year old attempting to distance himself from superficial peers; and The Secret Life of Bees, a fictional account of a young girl’s experiences as her family falls apart following her mother’s death.

While many books are published as fiction, nonfiction is equally as prevalent and can cover a wide range of subjects from history to science to sports. Astrophysics can be intimidating to those without an advanced degree in the field, but Neil deGrasse Tyson has written Astrophysics for People in a Hurry to break down the subject into bite-size chunks that can easily fit into any day’s schedule. A biography of Leonardo da Vinci is another good option for those who want to understand the world’s greatest artist through his personal writings and paintings.