The Book on the Bookshelf by Henry Petroski

Overview   Process  

Chapter “Chests, Cloisters, and Carrels” (pages 64–83 of the book in PDF, 1,3 MB)

Task: to translate and publish a book about books.

The author explores the theme of books and bookshelves. He asks: how did books come to be displayed vertically and spine out on shelves? From papyrus scrolls to precious medieval codices to the book as we know it, the readers will follow the evolution of making and storing of books to learn how book collections were managed in different times.

kniga na knizhnoy polke cover
The book in dust jacket

This is a generously illustrated and well written book about books, how they came to be and how people learned to store them.


One evening, while reading in my study, I looked up from my book and saw my bookshelves in a new and different light. Instead of being just places on which to store books, the shelves themselves intrigued me as artifacts in their own right, and I wondered how they came to be as they are. Question led to question, and I began to look for answers in—where else?—books. Books led me to libraries where I naturally encountered more bookshelves. I have found that, as simple as the bookshelf might appear to be as an object of construction and utility, the story of its development, which is intertwined with that of the book itself, is curious, mysterious, and fascinating.»

From the preface by the author

In the appendix the author provides more than twenty methods of arranging books in a personal library.

I want to be yours

The Book on the Bookshelf (in Russian)

8.19  $
Online price:  10.25  $
  ≈ 8  €
  ≈ 719  руб.

Release date: October 01 2014


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Henry Petroski is a civil engineering professor at Duke University where he specializes in failure analysis. He authored many books on design which include deep and entertaining research on the origin and evolution of everyday things, such as a pencil or a toothpick.

416 pages
Press run: 3000
Dimensions: 144×216 mm (5,6″×8,5″)
ISBN 978-5-98062-092-9

kniga na knizhnoy polke title
Title page
kniga na knizhnoy polke 110 111
Pages 110–111
kniga na knizhnoy polke 164 165
Pages 164–165
kniga na knizhnoy polke 260 261
Pages 260–261
kniga na knizhnoy polke 296 297
Pages 296–297

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