Books: A Living History

Front Cover
J. Paul Getty Museum, 2011 - History - 224 pages
12 Reviews

From the first scribbling on papyrus to the emergence of the e-book, this wide-ranging overview of the history of the book provides a fascinating look at one of the most efficient, versatile, and enduring technologies ever developed. The author traces the evolution of the book from the rarefied world of the hand-copied and illuminated volume in ancient and medieval times, through the revolutionary impact of Gutenberg's invention of the printing press, to the rise of a publishing culture in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and the subsequent impact of new technologies on this culture.

Many of the great individual titles of the past two millennia are discussed as well as the range of book types and formats that have emerged in the last few hundred years, from serial and dime novels to paperbacks, children's books, and Japanese manga. The volume ends with a discussion of the digital revolution in book production and distribution and the ramifications for book lovers, who can't help but wonder whether the book will thrive—or even survive—in a form they recognize.

What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
4 stars
3 stars
2 stars
1 star

Lots of great trivia and artwork. - Goodreads
I'm in it for the pretty pictures. - Goodreads
I loved the illustrations in each and every page. - Goodreads
Literacy, illustrations, prizes and more are discussed. - Goodreads
The illustrations are the strong point of this one. - Goodreads

Review: Books: A Living History

User Review  - Greg - Goodreads

Martyn Lyons' handsome coffee-table book is an overview of the development of writing from ancient times to the internet era. The book focuses on the developments in publication technology over the ... Read full review

Review: Books: A Living History

User Review  - Mary-Michelle Moore - Goodreads

A nice history of printed books, going through history of different countries and looking at a broad swatch of history. It's illustrations are lovely and each section is only a few pages long, so all in all a great overview. Read full review

About the author (2011)

Martyn Lyons is professor of history at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, and the author of A History of Reading and Writing in the Western World (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009) and Reading Culture and Writing Practices in Nineteenth-Century France (University of Toronto Press, 2008).

Bibliographic information