What is a Book?

A book is a medium for recording information in the form of written or printed words and sometimes drawings. It is usually composed of a set of sheets fastened together or bound in covers, with each sheet being called a page. It replaces the earlier idea of a scroll as the medium for extended written composition and publication.

A person who writes the words in a book is known as an author. An artist who draws the pictures in a book is called an illustrator. A book may have more than one writer or illustrator.

The text of a book is usually structured as a narrative, with a beginning, middle and end. The characters, setting and plot are developed throughout the narrative. Conflict and resolution are the key elements of a story in a book. Depending on the genre, a book can be categorized in a number of ways such as fiction, non-fiction and poetry.

Whether they are made of clay, skin or paper, books have been the carriers of meaning and communication in literate societies since the invention of writing. Despite the many differences in form, size and content over time, the characteristics that distinguish a book are its use of text and its capacity for portability.

A book is also a medium for recording and transmitting knowledge and ideas, often as a record of cultural heritage or scientific research. It can also be a medium for artistic expression, such as in the case of an artists’ book.

In modern times, books are most often produced commercially and published for sale to the general public by commercial publishers in industrialized countries. Increasingly, however, books are being produced in the developing world. These books may be published by government or educational institutions and may not have an ISBN code, which helps to identify and locate the book in a library system or online book database.

While books are most often read silently, they can also be used as the basis for social or academic discussion, such as in a book club. They can also be used for the purpose of evaluation and critique, such as in a book review or a literary analysis essay.

The word “book” owes its origin to Old English boc and bec, both of which are cognate with the Scandinavian word pothi and the Sanskrit pustikaa or pothi, all of which refer to birch bark or skin. The book’s long history spans cultures and civilizations, but the central feature is always its role as a means of conveying information and messages for broad distribution. It is this message that binds books together, whether the message is on a Babylonian clay tablet, an Egyptian papyrus roll or a modern paper codex. In every literate society, books have served the function of communication.