Defining an object we think we know intimately.

What exactly is a book? In The Book, I have tried to define it with respect to its status as object, content, idea, and interface. By nature slippery, the book has taken numerous forms over time and been the subject of extensive experimentation by artists, filmmakers, tinkerers, and bookbinders.

In April, 2018, I began contacting writers, artists, and scholars I admired to ask them What is the/a book? You'll find their answers here in an attempt to draw attention to the many other formulations of what the book is and can be.


a BOOK is a sequential collection of pages, loose leaf or bound.
It is circulating.


a BOOK OBJECT looks like a BOOK but it is not.
a BOOK OBJECT has a sequential collection of pages, loose leaf or bound, but it is not circulating.
it is a unique piece or limited to a few copies.


CAKE a cake can look like a BOOK or like a BOOK OBJECT, but it is not.
it is not circulating and is a unique piece or limited to a few copies
it is not readable either. it doesn´t have functioning pages.


another term for the same thing would be SCULPTURE with the look of a book
however, a BOOK OBJECT and even a BOOK can be a sculpture, too.


an E-BOOK is a digital file that mimics a BOOK, though it is not. Like an ugly duckling, whose real potential is yet to be discovered.
it is a PUBLICATION and is circulating.


PAGE PIECES are contributions to a PUBLICATION taking place on a page.
PAGE PIECES are Primary information.
PAGE PIECES need to be published.
If the page count/pagination of their placement matters, PAGE PIECES
are pagination-sensitive
If the verso of the page matters, PAGE PIECES are recto-verso- sensitive.
Rather than illustrating and/or referring to one original idea, every publishing of PAGE PIECE is a manifestation of it.
A earlier or later (re)print or (re-)use of a PAGE PIECE in different context is pari passu.
It is impossible to dive into the same river twice.

—Michalis Pichler


*PAGE PIECES in Publishing Manifestos, ed. Michalis Pichler (Berlin: Miss Read 2018), p.235.

Michalis Pichler was trained as a sculptor on the preservation site of Acropolis Monuments Athens. He holds diplomas in Architecture from Technical University Berlin and in Fine Arts from Art Academy Berlin Weissensee, and co-founded and organizes Miss Read: The Berlin Art Book Fair and the Conceptual Poetics Day. He works as a conceptual artist, poet and publisher on the imaginary border between visual art and literature. More information can be found here.