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The medieval Muslim world also used a method of reproducing reliable copies of a book in large quantities known as check reading , in contrast to the traditional method of a single scribe producing only a single copy of a single manuscript. In the check reading method, only "authors could authorize copies, and this was done in public sessions in which the copyist read the copy aloud in the presence of the author, who then certified it as accurate.

In woodblock printing , a relief image of an entire page was carved into blocks of wood, inked, and used to print copies of that page.

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This method originated in China, in the Han dynasty before AD , as a method of printing on textiles and later paper , and was widely used throughout East Asia. The method called woodcut when used in art arrived in Europe in the early 14th century. Books known as block-books , as well as playing-cards and religious pictures , began to be produced by this method.

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Creating an entire book was a painstaking process, requiring a hand-carved block for each page; and the wood blocks tended to crack, if stored for long. The monks or people who wrote them were paid highly. The Chinese inventor Bi Sheng made movable type of earthenware c. Around , in what is commonly regarded as an independent invention, Johannes Gutenberg invented movable type in Europe, along with innovations in casting the type based on a matrix and hand mould.


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This invention gradually made books less expensive to produce, and more widely available. Early printed books, single sheets and images which were created before in Europe are known as incunables or incunabula. Steam-powered printing presses became popular in the early 19th century. These machines could print 1, sheets per hour, but workers could only set 2, letters per hour. They could set more than 6, letters per hour and an entire line of type at once. There have been numerous improvements in the printing press. As well, the conditions for freedom of the press have been improved through the gradual relaxation of restrictive censorship laws.

See also intellectual property , public domain , copyright. In midth century, European book production had risen to over , titles per year. Throughout the 20th century, libraries have faced an ever-increasing rate of publishing, sometimes called an information explosion.

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The advent of electronic publishing and the internet means that much new information is not printed in paper books, but is made available online through a digital library , on CD-ROM , in the form of e-books or other online media. An on-line book is an e-book that is available online through the internet. Though many books are produced digitally, most digital versions are not available to the public, and there is no decline in the rate of paper publishing. This effort is spearheaded by Project Gutenberg combined with Distributed Proofreaders.

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There have also been new developments in the process of publishing books. Technologies such as POD or " print on demand ", which make it possible to print as few as one book at a time, have made self-publishing and vanity publishing much easier and more affordable. On-demand publishing has allowed publishers, by avoiding the high costs of warehousing, to keep low-selling books in print rather than declaring them out of print. The methods used for the printing and binding of books continued fundamentally unchanged from the 15th century into the early 20th century. While there was more mechanization , a book printer in had much in common with Gutenberg.

Gutenberg's invention was the use of movable metal types, assembled into words, lines, and pages and then printed by letterpress to create multiple copies. Modern paper books are printed on papers designed specifically for printed books.

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Traditionally, book papers are off-white or low-white papers easier to read , are opaque to minimise the show-through of text from one side of the page to the other and are usually made to tighter caliper or thickness specifications, particularly for case-bound books. Different paper qualities are used depending on the type of book: Machine finished coated papers , woodfree uncoated papers , coated fine papers and special fine papers are common paper grades.

Today, the majority of books are printed by offset lithography. Books tend to be manufactured nowadays in a few standard sizes.


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The sizes of books are usually specified as "trim size": the size of the page after the sheet has been folded and trimmed. The standard sizes result from sheet sizes therefore machine sizes which became popular or years ago, and have come to dominate the industry. British conventions in this regard prevail throughout the English-speaking world, except for the USA. The European book manufacturing industry works to a completely different set of standards.

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Modern bound books are organized according to a particular format called the book's layout. Although there is great variation in layout, modern books tend to adhere to as set of rules with regard to what the parts of the layout are and what their content usually includes. A basic layout will include a front cover , a back cover and the book's content which is called its body copy or content pages.


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The front cover often bears the book's title and subtitle, if any and the name of its author or editor s. The inside front cover page is usually left blank in both hardcover and paperback books. The next section, if present, is the book's front matter , which includes all textual material after the front cover but not part of the book's content such as a foreword, a dedication, a table of contents and publisher data such as the book's edition or printing number and place of publication.

Between the body copy and the back cover goes the end matter which would include any indices, sets of tables, diagrams, glossaries or lists of cited works though an edited book with several authors usually places cited works at the end of each authored chapter.

The inside back cover page, like that inside the front cover, is usually blank. Also here often appear plot summaries, barcodes and excerpted reviews of the book. Some books, particularly those with shorter runs i. As the production line circulates, a complete "book" is collected together in one stack, next to another, and another A web press carries out the folding itself, delivering bundles of signatures sections ready to go into the gathering line. Note that the pages of a book are printed two at a time, not as one complete book.

Excess numbers are printed to make up for any spoilage due to make-readies or test pages to assure final print quality. A make-ready is the preparatory work carried out by the pressmen to get the printing press up to the required quality of impression. Included in make-ready is the time taken to mount the plate onto the machine, clean up any mess from the previous job, and get the press up to speed.

As soon as the pressman decides that the printing is correct, all the make-ready sheets will be discarded, and the press will start making books. Similar make readies take place in the folding and binding areas, each involving spoilage of paper. After the signatures are folded and gathered, they move into the bindery. In the middle of last century there were still many trade binders — stand-alone binding companies which did no printing, specializing in binding alone.

At that time, because of the dominance of letterpress printing, typesetting and printing took place in one location, and binding in a different factory. When type was all metal, a typical book's worth of type would be bulky, fragile and heavy.