A book is a written work on a particular subject. A book can be a text, a reference source of information, or even a work of fiction. Books are available in a variety of formats, including hardcover, paperback and electronic. There are also many types of books, such as textbooks, cookbooks, and home improvement guides. Many books include a glossary to define terms, an index to help find important words and phrases, and an appendix of supplementary material.
Books are portable and easy to read. They are segmented into parts and chapters to aid assimilation, and are typically bound in cloth or paper materials. The earliest books were handwritten or printed on papyrus, parchment, or vellum. Eventually, the invention of printing made them cheaper and more widely available. Today, the book is a familiar and common form of communication and information.
While there are countless ways to produce books, there are three elements that move them from the run-of-the-mill garden variety to the stratosphere of masterworks: they must be focused, substantive and organized. By focusing on the subject matter, authors can avoid overstating their position or arguing pointlessly. By organizing their thoughts into an outline, they can ensure that the information is presented in a cohesive manner and that their argument is clear and convincing.
An author may consult a professional to create the outline of their book or manuscript, and the editor will assist with style and tone, ensuring that the work conforms to accepted editorial standards. As the book moves through the publishing process, the designer will consider its scope and purpose, as well as how the layout might be enhanced with illustrations and other visual elements. The book will then undergo a make-ready phase, where it is prepared for the production line and tested for quality.
After the make-ready is complete, the books are assembled into cases, which are covered with cloth that is then glued to both sides. The case-making is done off-line, and it is one of the last stages before a book goes to the binding line.
Once a book is printed, it can be bound in a variety of ways, with or without leather covers, and in different sizes. In some cases, the binding will be sewed to the spine and folded over onto itself at the back of the book. The books are then ready to be shipped.
Books are usually assigned codes called ISBNs to identify them, which allow them to be located in large collections. In some libraries, the number is used to determine their location on the shelf. Other reference works, such as those with detailed lists of data or information, may have a code on their spine or front cover that identifies the general topic of the book. For example, a book that contains a dictionary of words and their etymology is called a dictionary, while a book with maps is called an atlas. These codes are based on a library classification system.