Response to The Designed Object

Sulekha Ali
Team 4, The Boujee Bunch
Info 200 Section
Assignment 5
January 24, 2017

What is a book? What are the distinguishing characteristics of a book; what sets it apart from other similar entities?

A “book” as defined by Kilgour in The Evolution of The Book is, “a storehouse of human knowledge intended for dissemination in the form of an artifact that is portable or at least transportable and that contains arrangements of signs that convey information. This information may compromise stories, myths, songs, and reality”(Kilgour 3). Going off of what I have read a book can simply be defined as some form of printed work, whether it may be poetry, or factual information, or even art, these works are bounded by two covers and this is usually what the “book” is today. As the book is a unique entity it consists of many of it own characteristics that in part set it apart from many other similar entities. For example a similar entity of a book would be a computer, it is a physical object in which information is stored and can be found. Although they may be similar in this aspect, books have many distinguishing characteristics that set it apart from this entity and other similar entities. For example a book is a physical form of information which is printed with ink on paper. Although books and computers both contain and give information, a major distinguishing factor of a book that separates it from computers is the fact that this information is printed on paper and is binded by two covers. The functions may be similar but books look physically different and one book potentially contains one array of information versus one computer which can be used to search multiple different topics.

Kilgour discusses 5 necessary “elements” present at each of the major innovations of the book. Which one do you think is the most important today, as the book evolves again, and why?

Of the five necessary elements that Kilgour discussed, “user's needs, adequate technology, new organizations, successful integration with existing systems, and cost effectiveness”(Kilgour 9), I feel that having adequate technology is the most important today as the book evolves again. Today in the world of technology, what we know as a book is slowly evolving into the electronic form know as the e-book. With this constantly evolving world of technology I feel that in order to allow the book to successfully evolve again it is important to have adequate technology. As physical books as we knew them are being digitized, so many important factors go into creating a seamless evolution from paper from to electronic form. We have to take into account how we can transfer books into electronic form, and what the best way for people to read these ebooks would be which consists of implementing and updating new ereader and tablet technologies, implementing web technologies if these books are downloaded through a library system and so many other technological factors that emphasize the importance of having adequate technology in this evolution. I feel that ebooks will be the next evolution of the “book” as we embark into and are currently living in this digital age, and to prepare for that the technology we have should be constantly evolving as well.

You should submit a list of at least 20 components/pieces/parts of a physical book as part of your response here, following your answers to the questions above.

Book Examined: Recoding Gender by Janet Abbate

  1. Front Cover

2. Back Cover

3. Table of Contents

4. Page numbers

5. Chapter number

6. Chapter Name

7. Title

8. Author Name

9. Publishing information

10. actual information: story, pictures, facts

11. Binding

12. Words

13. paper

14. dedication: “this book is dedicated to..”

15. Barcode

16. Blank page at start of book and end of book

17. citations/sources

18. bibliography

19. index

20. printed ink, displays words/images


Kilgour, F. G. (1998). The evolution of the book. New York: Oxford University Press.

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