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The Book: A Cover-to-Cover Exploration of the Most Powerful Object of Our Time

Keith Houston

Houston has already written a book about the history of punctuation (Shady Characters, 2013), and now he returns with a readable, illustrated history about the language, art, and science of bookmaking that spans many cultures and civilizations. From barely-decipherable scratches on ancient surfaces to the latest bestseller, Houston’s history is also packed with stories of inventors who tried to make a better book, like King Eumenes II, who embraced parchment when war halted exports of Egyptian papyrus; Cai Lun, the scheming Chinese official who claimed to have invented paper; and James Paige, the snake-oil salesman whose typesetting machine almost bankrupted Mark Twain.

The Book

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