The Book on the Bookshelf

By Henry Petroski,

Book cover of The Book on the Bookshelf

Book description

He has been called "the poet laureate of technology" and a writer who is "erudite, witty, thoughtful, and accessible." Now Henry Petroski turns to the subject of books and bookshelves, and wonders whether it was inevitable that books would come to be arranged vertically as they are today on horizontal…

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Why read it?

2 authors picked The Book on the Bookshelf as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

Why do our libraries, those at home, at university, or in the public library network, look the way they do? Many people would agree that books are best stored upright on shelves, spine out, but how did we come to that conclusion? This delightful book offers all the answers, and incidentally reveals more than you could ever think of to ask about the manner in which we take care of, store, and display books. It might even give you some inspiration on how to arrange your own collection.

From Arthur's list on the history of the library.

This is an utterly charming book written by an engineer whose specialty is the history and design of everyday objects. How and why books have come to occupy shelves may not seem an especially promising subject, but Petroski is a fascinating guide to book production and consumption down the centuries. He gives us insights into everything from how ancient scholars kept papyrus scrolls open as they read them, to the shelves designed to hold the Library of Congress's massive loads of books. As someone who has suffered the occasional bookshelf collapse, I can appreciate the structural failure at Northwestern University…

From Ross' list on books about books.

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