If you think you know all the attributes that make a book a book, turn back to the gallery door and conclude your visit to this exhibition.
If you think there might be more to the seemingly familiar and ultimately knowable book—one of the most innovative and adaptable technologies for making and sharing meaning devised by humankind—then take a moment to browse and consider the many wonderful, sometimes contradictory and occasionally confounding aspects of the book.
But Is It a Book? is a chooseable-path exhibition that invites inquiry into the nature of material text, considering in turn the attributes that signal “bookness”—format, shape, binding, pages, and text. You will see examples covering the long arc of book history and book technology, from a clay tablet made in the 3rd century BCE to audio- and e-books manifesting themselves materially the instant you press “play.” But is a clay tablet or an e-book really a book? Choose your path and decide!
New York: Pocket Books, 1962
PS3511 .E46 S4 1962 Rare
Donated from the collection of Professor Lauren Berlant
Following on the success of Penguin Books’ line of boldly striped paperbacks that debuted in Britain, Pocket Books was the first publisher in the U.S. to market pocket-sized paperbacks, publishing 10 titles in runs of 10,000 copies each in 1939.
The Hanna Holborn Gray Special Collections Research Center