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  • Writer's pictureLibrary Herald

The spine of a book: Structure, contents, and concerns

Abstract Books have been a part of our daily lives since ancient times and hold a unique place in the history of human communication. In this age of electronic revolution and the internet, printed book still dominates the scenario. The paper begins with a brief history of the records of human communication beginning with the Paleolithic cave drawings to printed books, especially emphasizing the evolution of the ‘codex&x2019; form of the book. It reveals the ‘anatomy&x2019; of the book, narrowing down to the ‘book spine&x2019; and its printing. Dwelling up on the structure and information content of the book spine, it discusses some of the associated design issues as well. When books are stacked up or stored on the shelf of a library or bookshop, the details on the spine is the only visible surface containing the information about the book that attracts the patron or buyer. It has been noticed that different styles of printing are followed in different parts of the world depending upon the culture and writing systems being followed. As many libraries hold multilingual collections, such variant spine printing styles make quick and easy identification of shelved publications difficult. International and nationals standards have tried to resolve this problem but without much success. Literature search also revealed that the debate is inconclusive and alive till date. Finally, it provides a glimpse of the innovative form of art called ‘book spine poetry.’

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