What is in a book?
Lots of us have favourite books, or enjoy nothing more than getting stuck into a new novel, but how often do we think about the actual concept of how books came about and how they became the household staple they are today?
As we are in full swing with our Summer Festival of Reading, what better time to take a look at some weird and wonderful facts about treasured tomes, from the origins of the book to current trends, as well as some lesser-known facts about a few literacy classics!
- The printing press, which allowed for the mass production of printed books, was invented by Johannes Gutenberg in approximately 1440 - 1445.
- Before printing presses, books were meticulously copied by hand. Due to the precious nature of these books and their limited availability, they were chained to the shelves of public libraries to prevent theft. The chains were long enough for people to pick the books up and move around with them, but they could not be removed from the premises.
- Recuyell of the Historyes of Troye was the first book printed in the English language, circa 1475. The book is also the first from the press or William Caxton, thought to be the first English person to work as a printer. The book was sold in 2014 for over £1 million.
- A number of terms have been coined to express feelings about books and reading; for instance, the word 'bibliosmia' means to enjoy the smell of books and the word 'abibliophobia' means the fear of running out of reading material.
- The International Publishers Association Annual Report Oct 2013 - Oct 2014, showed that 184,000 new titles and re-editions were released in the UK in 2013.
- A 2015 World Book Day report showed the average British household contains 158 books.
- Around £2.2 billion is spent on books in the UK each year. A fifth of this is spent on children's books.
- The original manuscript for author John Steinbeck's classic play, Of Mice and Men, was eaten by his dog Toby. It took Steinbeck two months to rewrite it.
- Many famous books did not originally have the title they are so well known for. For example, George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four was originally titled The Last Man in Europe, and Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace was originally titled All's Well That Ends Well.
So it's not just the contents of books that are interesting, but books themselves too!