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Kay Amert


The book is a durable vehicle for words and images and often is a central artifact in cultures with the written word. Those produced in the era before the advent of printing are unique “manuscript” books that were made by hand (→  Printing, History of ). The book became the first mass medium, and conventions for its presentation shaped those of later media. It can be distinguished from other printed and electronic media by the substantial length of its texts and by the diversity of its content, which ranges from the worldly and practical to the poetic and sublime. Because books both comprise and safeguard the working memory of humanity, they are inherently conservative at the same time as they announce what is new. Thus the book is a complex artifact: it reveals the personal, social, and cultural values of a period, and it can be “read” in a variety of ways (→  Typography ). The many genres of content that have developed in modern book publishing demarcate organizational boundaries within the industry, affiliations of authors, commercial identities of bookstores, the arrangement of books within shops and libraries, and the particular interests of book clubs or readers’ groups. While most books are edited, designed, produced, promoted, and distributed by the processes discussed below, the field of book publishing is diverse and includes small presses, specialty publishers, government ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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