A book is a written work consisting of a series of pages that conveys ideas or information. The concept of the book has evolved throughout history to take a variety of forms. Some of these forms have been more or less permanent, while others have been adapted to suit changing communication and technology. The book has also been used as a medium for artistic expression and for the recording of other types of information, such as music or movies.
When a work is written and intended for publication, the author will usually consider various elements of design that pertain to the scope and purpose of the book as well as the desired approach to the subject matter. In addition, the author will likely want to include a preface or foreword and possibly a glossary to define terms and an index to reference key words and concepts. The intended audience for the manuscript will also influence the choice of formatting, whether illustrations should be used and how the text should be structured, such as chapter headings and their placement.
Once a manuscript is completed, the process of book production can begin. The first step is called type-setting, in which the actual text is converted into a standard format known as point size and style. Then the pages are printed and bound together with a cover to produce a finished book. This stage is often outsourced to specialized printers and bookmakers who have expertise in these fields.
In addition to the printing and binding processes, a book can undergo several other stages of production, such as editing and indexing. Some books may be produced using desktop publishing systems that allow the user to create the layout of the pages and insert text, graphics or pictures. This can be more cost-effective and time-efficient than traditional methods of creating a book.
Most commercial publishers in industrialized countries assign an International Standard Book Number (ISBN) to each book they publish. These numbers can be consulted to determine the location of a specific book in a bookstore or library, or in an online store. Many government and university presses, however, do not participate in the ISBN system and their books are not assigned unique identifiers.
The contents of a book can vary greatly, from a textbook or technical manual to a novel, memoir or poetry collection. Many books contain an academic argument, while others simply provide a wide-ranging survey of a particular topic. Some books are considered masterworks of their genre, whereas others are just average. The most successful books share three basic characteristics: being focused, substantive and organized.
A book can be read in a variety of ways, including for leisure purposes, to gain information, or as part of a research project. A book can also be used as a source of social or academic discussion, such as a book club or book review. It can also serve as a study aid in a classroom or be evaluated by a professional writer in the form of a book report.