The Book on the Bookshelf



[PDF / Epub] ☄ The Book on the Bookshelf By Henry Petroski – E17streets4all.co.uk A fascinating history of two related common objects impeccably documented and beautifully illustrated — CivilizationHenry Petroski the poet laureate of technology and author of the highly acclaimed on the ePUB ☆ A fascinating history of two related common objects impeccably documented and beautifully illustrated — CivilizationHenry Petroski the poet laureate of technology and author of the highly acclaimed The Pencil and The Evolution of Useful Things now sets his sights on perhaps the greatest technological advances of the last two thousand years the making and storing of books—from papyrus scrolls to precious medieval codices to the book as we know it from the great library at Alexandria to The Book PDF/EPUB ² monastic cells to the Library of CongressAs writing advanced and with it broader literacy the development of the book was seemingly inevitable And as books became common the uestion of where and how to store them became pertinent But how did we come from continuous sheets rolled on spools to the ubiuitous portable item you are holding in your hand And how did books come to be restored and displayed vertically and spine out on shelves Henry Petroski Book on the Kindle Ó answers these and virtually every other uestion we might have about books as he contemplates the history of the book on bookshelf with his inimitable subtle analysis and intriguing detailAfter reading this book you will not look at a book or a bookshelf in the same way — The Seattle Times.The Book on the Bookshelf

on the ePUB ☆ Henry Petroski is a civil engineering professor at Duke University where he specializes in failure analysisPetroski was born in Brooklyn New York and in he received his bachelor's degree from Manhattan College He graduated with his PhD in Theoretical and Applied Mechanics from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign in Before beginning his work at Duke in he worked a.

The Book on the Bookshelf PDF é The Book  PDF/EPUB ²
  • Paperback
  • 306 pages
  • The Book on the Bookshelf
  • Henry Petroski
  • English
  • 12 June 2014
  • 9780375706394

10 thoughts on “The Book on the Bookshelf

  1. says:

    Henry Petroski is fascinated by the design of everyday objects and how the seemingly simple technology of items like pencils forks and paperclips have evolved and improved over timeIn this volume he examines the history of not books per se but books on bookshelves which is a very different topic If you are seeking a deeper understanding of printing and binding methods or the impact of literature and literacy on human culture you won't find much here But if you've ever wondered why we store books the way we do vertically spine out following some purposeful order in neat rows along shelves custom made for the purpose and how this storage system influenced the design of books and vice versa this treatise is absolutely thrillingSo yes I am a dork who is thrilled by dorky things But still this topic caught me off guard Like many of Petroski's subjects bookshelves were something I'd taken utterly for granted and had I thought about them at all figured must exist in their current form because how else could you possibly store books?But Petroski is an engineer and he never takes anything designed by humans for granted In particular he is fascinated by infrastructure noting that it tends to go unnoticed when designed well Once in place and with books upon it the bookshelf has no moving parts and no obvious function except to stay where it is and support a line of books It is like a common bridge on a small country road there but not there to all who use it every day Yet let the bridge be washed out in a flood and suddenly it becomes the most important topic of discussion in the county So it is with technology generally it is most present in its absenceDespite how obvious they may seem bookshelves are a relatively recent and innovative type of infrastructure developed as the need to house and books in an accessible way increased over the past few centuries Before books when most written material was stored in volumes ie scrolls a shelving system would be useless The Library at Alexandria probably used pigeonholes or boxes Even when codices ie books became standard libraries typically held a maximum of a few hundred which were usually kept locked in trunks or cabinets to deter thieves Only later in the Middle Ages when monastery libraries started to outgrow their storage systems did books start to be arrayed upright on shelves but with the spines facing backward since a chain would be attached to the front edge of the book linking it securely to the shelf Again to deter thieves prior to the printing press books were expensiveAnd this is all only the tip of the iceberg I never knew for instance how critical natural light was to the design of all libraries and bookstacks until electricity became commonplace Using any fire based method of illumination would be utterly irresponsible in a room full of priceless and highly flammable books so libraries were always designed around their windows and only used during daylight hoursI also never knew that in the early days of printed books most of them were sold unbound looking like oversized magazines The collector would then take this sheaf to his favorite bookbinder This is why so many personal libraries of a few centuries ago consist of uniform looking leatherbound books These books weren't bought as sets they were just bound by the same binderAnd there is so so much to this story If you love books as objects if a room full of bookshelves never fails to enthrall you if you are curious about the history of the technology you use every day in other words if you are my kind of nerd you will find much to fascinate you in this book

  2. says:

    If there's one thing I'm taking away from Henry Petroski's The Book on the Bookshelf it's the fact that no technology is so basic as to be self evident I always thought of the humble bookshelf as a foregone conclusion faced with a bunch of narrow rectangular solids it only makes sense to place them vertically front to back along a horizontal surface with some kind of identifying label along their edges yes? Petroski's book a history of the development of book storage technology in the West entertainingly disproves this assumption Petroski points out that given the high value of early books which were each hand lettered and often bound between jewel encrusted covers a very secure storage techniue was needed In pre and early medieval monasteries and universities the few books available were kept in steamer type trunks with multiple often three locks each with a different key The librarian would keep one key and two other responsible persons would have the other two so that all three key keepers would need to congregate at the book trunk anytime someone wanted to withdraw a book In this way accountability would also be maintained at least three people would witness each book withdrawal which would minimize lost volumes Not only that but the ritual of book return is enough to chill the blood of a person like me who nearly always returns her library books shockingly late often without having read themThe librarian shall read a statement as to the manner in which brethren have had books during the past year As each brother hears his name pronounced he is to give back the book which had been entrusted to him for reading; and he whose conscience accuses him of not having read the book through which he had received is to fall on his face confess his fault and entreat forgivenessOf course I might be motivated to finish my library books if I knew I would have to fall on my face and beg to be pardoned As books accumulated and architecture changed the locked chest evolved into a system of tilted lecterns with or without seats to which individual books were attached with iron chains The tradition of chained libraries was apparently preserved for a shockingly long time in some places; the last college in Oxford to remove the chains from their books did so in 1799 At first the books were left open or closed on their designated lecterns but as library collections grew each lectern began to have multiple books This necessitated shelves added above the lecterns themselves where chained books could be lain when not being consulted These shelves are the ancestors of the modern bookshelfBut lots of things still had yet to evolve about book shelving before it would be recognizably modern Books were usually shelved horizontally in piles for example and even when space considerations forced people to start shelving them vertically the chains attached to their covers dictated that they be placed with their fore edges rather than their spines facing outward Based on an informal sampling of my friends and acuaintances this is the single most disturbing part of Petroski's book People react strongly to the idea of shelving books spine inward; comments like that's just wrong and I don't like to think about it kept cropping up when I mentioned the practice But in addition to the chains which would have scraped the covers of the neighboring books if the spines had been faced out there are other reasons that a fore edge first shelving techniue makes sense There was no identifying information on the spines of books for example until well into the seventeenth century For a long time they were completely unadorned in stark contrast to the elaborate front and back covers In addition Petroski brings up the fascinating point that even when they began to be decoratedThe exoskeletal spine which holds up the innards of the book structurallywas still the machinery of a bookand so it continued to be the part that was hidden as much as possible pushed into the dark recesses of bookshelves out of sight Shelving books with their spines inward must have seemed as natural and appropriate a thing to do as to put the winding machinery of a clock toward the wall or behind a door or bothThis is so interesting to me I would of course never think of positioning a computer or desk lamp so that its electrical cords were on conspicuous display and medieval and Renaissance folks apparently felt the same way about book spines I wonder what this reaction so seemingly universal is about Why do we find unattractive the parts of our technology that make it work? Do we only stop feeling put off by the functionalstructural elements of a thing when we no longer perceive it as technology? The idea that book spines so infinitely appealing to me now once seemed distasteful bits of mechanics makes me wonder how future generations will perceive our messes of wires and cords Maybe my great great grandchildren will like JK Rowling's Arthur Weasley take to collecting plugsI found the last third or so of Petroski's book less interesting than the first two thirds Once the bookshelf assumed or less its modern form it was just a matter of optimizing space and usability in libraries and I don't have the engineer's soul to enjoy such conversations as much as some people Nevertheless the book as a whole was highly enjoyable the kind of thing from which I tend to read out tidbits as I find them to whomever is around to listen usually David who is a good sport It was a great way to kick off the Dewey Decimal Challenge 000 century and I'm looking forward to picking out an eually thought provoking choice for next month

  3. says:

    I actually learned a lot about shelving esp about the desk area filling up to the top and THEN filling the shelves under the desk Interesting Which makes me think I've found my calling p4 Indeed the presence of bookshelves greatly influences our behaviorp22 Is an empty bookshelf an oxymoron?p24 It is extraordinary that so simple a device as the separation of words should never have become general until after the invention of printingp69 Windows and natural light were also important because of the fear of fire and many old libraries were open only as long as the sun was upp 120 The decorated fore edges ofbooks were also lettered over with literary identifiers further suggesting the the purpose in part was to identify individual books in this large library167 In the nineteenth century the idea arose of keeping a library's collection of books in a space separate from the reading room and this led to the development of the bookstack as we know it todayp217 Bern Dibner the electrical engineer inventor and premier twentieth century collector of books in the history of science and technology kept his treasures in wooden bookcases with glass doors in the offices of his Burndy Engineering Company Since the Burndy factory which manufactured electrical connectors was fitted with a water sprinkler system the rare books were in danger of being soaked if the system was ever triggered To protect his collection in this event Dibner had the bookcases fitted with metal canopies to shed the water as a pitched roof does If you've read this far I'd like you to know that I worked on the short title catalog for the Dibner Collection at the Smithsonian in 1977 78

  4. says:

    competent rather than stunning inclusive rather than unified and written most probably under the simple rubric 'a book about books has to get some readers engineer Henry Petroski can write but doesn't stun or immediately derive a rabid following much of the book is concerned with bookshelf designs and while three or four pictures of medieval bookshelf concepts a rotary concept an angled lectern are fine by the thirteenth or fourteenth you're wondering of the writer needed to produce fillerPetroski missed the opportunity to track a book from production to finish he could have covered papermaking ink production tree farming and he could have researched unusual or extreme short production books Evelyn Waugh did a leather edition of 200 for his close friends of Brideshead Revisited; there was a medieval book with iron covers called Malleus Witchitorium or something like that 'hammer of witches' which was designed both for reading and to be physically used to beat witches to death I'm not making this up if I know these two random facts about books then Petroski's lack of deep research is clear since he probably could have come up with 100 totally uniue books or publications with a little willingness to talk to librarians or allied professionalsa competent not horrible 3

  5. says:

    I'd like to give this half a star less but that is unfortunately not possible so in the spirit of being generous I'll give it three starsThis book could easily have been shortened by 15 20% had the editor been a bit liberal with his red pen in eliminating some of the boring personal anecdotes along with the many paragraphs of repetitious overkill For example I am genuinely amazed by the sheer number of references and stories the author uses ad nauseum to demonstrate the tendency to shelve books spine in in the earlier centuries There I just or less summed up half the book in one sentence Unfortunately it seems as though much of that heavy earlier history came at the expense of the recent years which was delivered towards the end in a couple of efficient and streamlined chapters If only the earlier history could have been as efficient and succinct it would make a nicer uicker and interesting readThat said though it was still an interesting book as it stands and I don't regret reading it

  6. says:

    While parts of this book were very slow going it is worth it for the way it illustrates one of the most wonderful things about learning about history what you think is the right way something is done is just as historical as the weird way people in past eras did things It is just good for your head to have the banal things around you that you take for granted suddenly come alive as part of an historical process It's so strange to think that the way we shelve DVDs has its roots in the days when books were chained to lecturns Who knew?

  7. says:

    A great and interesting read I liked it so much I think I'll check out his book The Pencil

  8. says:

    The book for one who loves books engineering and the history that brings them together

  9. says:

    A bit dry in parts but other parts were pretty fascinatingso it evens out into a 3 out of 5 stars Some of my favorite uotes belowThe accumulation of books on shelves appears to be inevitable and the search for ever places to store books appears to be without limit The house or apartment with too many books seems always to acuire even pg 223When I travel I find myself drawn into bookstores and to books I wonder if I will ever see again Many of these volumes must be bought of course lest the opportunity to possess them be lost pg 230The booksehlf seems to abhor a vacuum and so the void that is created when one book is removed is seldom adeuate to receive the book again Like a used air mattress or a roadmap which can never seem to be folded back into the shape in which it came pg 11And just as we may wonder if a tree makes a sound when it falls out of earshot so we may ask Is an empty bookshelf an oxymoron? pg 22According to its developers the ebook could ultimately hold the entire Library of Congress which is of the order of 20 million volumesIn time the developers of this 21st century technology claim such books could also incorporate video clips to give us illuminated books that are also animated pg 166 this book was written in 1999

  10. says:

    As a teacher I would search for books that could help me teach rhyme theme vowel sounds or had exceptional illustrationsAs a reader I would look for crime or suspense genresAs a person who now works in a beautiful library I am fascinated by books in general which is why I read this book I thought it was going to be about book history but no it was a book on book shelfs and how they came to be designed for a library and home I almost closed it for good but then the author starting writing about scrolls and codices and how in the second century they were stored in chest or cloisters or carrels How the spines always faced the back of shelves and why Why older libraries and universities were built the way they were Did you know you can stand outside one of these buildings and tell where the book stacks are? I do now The way a computer scrolls down was taken from the ancient scrolls Maybe a duh for some of you but for me it was wow I can see thatMany fascinating facts and pictures about the evolvement of the book shelf and the library The only reason I gave four stars was because the author rambled on a bit like me I guess it fascinated him also

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