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Book Formats: Physical and Beyond

While the lovely smell of a dusty old paperback might be your favourite, don’t forget there are other formats available. Some readers might be die-hard fans of the printed word, but stories and information can reach us in a variety of mediums with the onset of technology.

Physical Copies (including paperback, hardcover, comics, magazines and newspapers)

Around the year 1450, the Gutenberg Printing Press was in operation, and the written word reached more readers than ever. Scientific and Religious words were more commonly commissioned to begin with. Manually copied manuscripts were slowly phased out and, by the 19th century in the UK, “Penny Dreadfuls” were part of the mass-produced serials of fictional literature (available for a penny!). As literacy improved, longer serials were produced, including full-length novels. Some readers these days stick to traditionally printed books, but if you’re like me, sometimes they may end up supporting your computer monitors instead. I still read them though, dog-eared corners and food-stained pages are testament to how I love to eat and read, at the expense of even my most beloved copies.


Mention the word “ebook” amongst some readers and be prepared for gasps of horror. However, while some readers can’t stand the thought of digital books, there are many benefits. They can be cheaper to distribute, and you can fit hundreds of stories on your device (eReader, computer, phone or tablet). Imagine travelling with a library in your pocket! That’s quite amazing. Readers of eBooks can highlight favourite phrases, bookmark pages and click on embedded links to easily connect with authors on their social media. This allows them to stay up to date with further releases.

Audio Books

Having someone read stories to you at bedtime isn’t always feasible. Until now! Enter the world of Audio Books. Rising in popularity, this book format allows you to listen to stories anytime and usually anywhere (maybe don’t listen to a horror story while operating heavy machinery). This format is also a fantastic option for the visually impaired, and some audio books are enhanced with sound effects and music to accompany the narrator’s voice. Audio Books are a way into the world of storytelling for time-poor readers who for example might have a long drive to work each day.

Special shout out: Braille

This form of the written word was developed in France around 1824 by a 15 year old Louis Braille whose eyesight was lost after an accident. It was an improvement on “nighttime reading”, another form of tactile writing invented in approximately 1815 by Charles Barbier. Braille, a system of dots (3x2), can be read on special paper or on refreshable screen displays. There are over 130 languages in the Braille system, quite an achievement in bringing the written word to the visually impaired. (For more information on Braille:

In conclusion, no matter what your preferred reading format is, stories and information are there to be shared, discussed and enjoyed by all... Unless your most prized paperbacks will never leave the sight of your hallowed bookshelves!

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