What is a book, and does it matter?

Sigfrid Lundberg's Stuff 2009-08-26

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Lorcan Dempsey of OCLC research, is involved in among lots of things, statistical analyses of media use. In that work he and his colleagues are forced to make som operational definitions of the 'book'. Definitions that inspired Lorcan to make some interesting reflections on books.

I once had a chat with a book historian. Her view is was that a book is defined by its binding. The binding is the most important part of a book. Without it, it's just a pile of paper.

My answer was as follows: Assume that an author is writing a book. While working on it there is a mansuscript -- which is a computer file. After a year or so, the book is completed and is accepted for publication.

In my view it is now a book. After all the book has been accepted for publication. When you send it to the printers workshop, then I suppose it is manuscript. On the other hand, when you download the thing from to your kindle, then it's a book.


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My name is Sigfrid Lundberg. The stuff I publish here may, or may not, be of interest for anyone else.

On this site there is material on photography, music, literature and other stuff I enjoy in life. However, most of it is related to my profession as an Internet programmer and software developer within the area of digital libraries. I have been that at the Royal Danish Library, Copenhagen (Denmark) and, before that, Lund university library (Sweden).

The content here does not reflect the views of my employers. They are now all past employers, since I retired 1 May 2023.

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