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Book:  A set of written, printed, or blank pages fastened along one side and encased between protective covers.

Coin:  A small piece of metal, usually flat and circular, authorized by a government for use as money.  Metal money considered as a whole.

Manuscripts, Books, and Maps: The Printing Press and a Changing World 
Four Important Periods in the History of the Book
I. 7th to 13th Century: The age of religious "manuscript" book production. Books in this period are entirely constructed by hand, and are largely religious texts whose creation is meant as an act of worship. 

II. 13th to 15th Century: The secularization of book production. Books are beginning to be produced that do not serve as objects of worship, but that try to explain something about the observable world. The difficulty with the spread of such knowledge is that production is still taking place via pre-print - manuscript - methods. 
The production of secular books is driven by two things:  The rise of universities in Europe, spreading from Italy. The return of the crusaders in the 13th century, who bring with them texts from Byzantium. These books, written during the Greek and Roman periods in history, focus on this-world concerns. 

III. 15th to 16th Century: The first printed books. These are print versions of traditional works like the Bible, books of hours (prayer books) and the religious calendars. 

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IV. 16th to 17th Century: New information is put into books that has important consequences for European life and society. 
Authors like Elizabeth Eisenstein, who say that print had a massive effect in European culture, are looking at the differences between periods II and III above. Febvre and Martin see other factors as more important because they are looking at the differences between periods I and IV above.  Let's now turn to an examination of each of these periods in European history so that we can get a better grasp on the motivating factors for change. 

The 7th to the 9th century was the heyday of the "illuminated manuscript". Production of these works took place in the monasteries scattered across Europe. These religious retreats were the repositories of those texts of Greece and Rome which survived in Europe. They were also the seats of the intellectual life of Europe during the Middle Ages. Monks in the monasteries made copies of the books in their care - both religious and secular manuscripts. However, they did not contribute much more to the advancement of that intellectual tradition, because they were not engaged in thinking about the relationship between the works in their care and the world outside the monastery. 

During this time, the production of Bibles was the place where the arts of the monastic scribes, and later lay artists, flowered. It was here that the most elaborate and beautiful illumination found its outlet and the manuscript books from this period represent the height of the art of decoration. 

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Staff Reporter of The Wall Street Journal.

Readers seeking E.L. Doctorow's new novel "The March," one of the best-reviewed books of the fall season, can buy the new novel at their neighborhood bookstore for $25.95 or on the Web for a few dollars less.

Or they can seek out an even better bargain, like the $13.99 (plus shipping) deal offered earlier this week for a "read once gently" copy on Amazon.com Inc.'s Web site.

The Internet is creating a new and fast-growing category in the book-selling market -- the barely-used book. An increasing number of consumers are snapping up used volumes online at invitingly cheap prices. These aren't yellowing copies of out-of-print titles but often unblemished copies of newly published books -- sometimes available just a few days after a book's official publication date.

Today, any consumer armed with a title or an ISBN number can search the Internet for the lowest price and get one within minutes. At the same time, the Web sites that offer such books, such as Amazon, Abebooks Inc. and Alibris Inc., have made it painless for readers to resell them. A reader who owns "The March," for example, can sell it via Amazon just by clicking on the "Sell Yours Here" button to the right of the new-book listing. The process is so simple that even the most technologically befuddled person can follow it. Once the book sells, Amazon collects a commission of $0.99 plus 15% of the sale price from the seller. It then deposits the remainder in the seller's account and provides the address of the customer. The seller ships the book directly to the customer. Amazon's payment to the seller includes a pre-calculated credit toward shipping costs.

In effect, Amazon and other online used-book sites, including eBay Inc., are creating a nation of amateur booksellers at a time when consumer book unit sales are flat or declining.

"This is the new Internet reality, which is the cheaper the better," says Laurence Kirshbaum, chief executive of Time Warner Inc.'s book group. With Web sites displaying new and used titles together, he says, "you can see two prices side by side, and the discrepancy is enormous."

Mr. Kirshbaum has reason to be concerned. There are currently 70 "new and used" copies of "The Widow of the South" -- one of Time Warner's biggest books of the fall -- for sale on Amazon. Although the novel carries a retail price of $24.95, there are several copies on Amazon described as "new" being offered for $16 or less.

The issue is so contentious that several literary agents are calling for authors and publishers to find some way to share in the revenue created by the used-book market. "The online transaction providers should pay a fee," says Richard Pine, a partner in New York literary agency InkWell Management LLC. "The commission should be paid directly to the publisher, who should pass through 100% of that income to the author."

Adds Ann Rittenberg, president of Ann Rittenberg Literary Agency Inc.: "I'd like to see the author getting 10% of a used book sale. I wouldn't have asked for this years ago, but it's so organized now that there should be a payment." A spokeswoman for Amazon says the company doesn't offer a commission and won't comment on what it may or may not do in the future.

Until recently, publishers barely noticed used-book sales. Nobody knew how large the market was for used volumes, or whether it was growing or not.

Certainly, there has always been a significant demand for used textbooks. But a new study conducted by InfoTrends Research Group Inc., a market-research firm in Weymouth, Mass., on behalf of the Book Industry Study Group, a trade association, has gone a long way towards quantifying demand for used titles.

While the market's size is still modest -- about $600 million, or 2.8% of the $21 billion that readers spent on consumer books in 2004 -- it is growing at 25% annually. Jeff Hayes, group director for InfoTrends Research Group, suggests that it could reach $2.25 billion in U.S. sales by 2010, or 9.4% of a projected $23.9 billion in consumer book sales.

Many in publishing worry that every sale of a used book in "new" condition will act as a substitute for an actual sale of a new book. Others are concerned that writers are losing out. "We want to make sure that authors receive the royalties they deserve," says Jane Friedman, CEO of News Corp.'s HarperCollins Publishers Inc., one of the country's largest publishers. "We'd also like Amazon to give some breathing room between the on-sale date of a new book and the sale of used copies."

All these barely used books come from a variety of sources. Some are offered up by everyday readers. Some are undoubtedly review copies that publishers provide to critics. Professional booksellers also offer copies. "Booksellers acquire used books from consumers and pay as much as 30% to 40% off the retail price and then resell it for as much as 60% of the retail price, depending on condition," says Mr. Hayes.

The new report doesn't make it clear how many newly published books are being sold as used books. Nor does anyone know how many dollars spent on used books would instead have been spent purchasing new books.

One reason the used-book market is growing is that the experience of buying and selling such books has improved, according to Mr. Hayes. "In the past, you didn't hesitate to buy a new book," he says. "But if you only have to wait a week or two, you may decide to hold off and buy a used copy."

Last week, Bethanne Patrick, who writes the Book Maven blog for Time Warner's America Online unit, says she bought a used copy of Zadie Smith's new novel "On Beauty" (dust-jacket price: $25.95) in very good condition for $14.50 on Amazon. "Why pay full price if I can get a hardly opened hardback copy online?" she says.

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