Different parts of a book

A book is more than just a story. In terms of content, you’ve got different genres, characters, settings, different types of endings, and a few more odds and ends, depending on what type of text you’re dealing with.

But what about the typical parts of a book beyond the actual text?

Let’s look into them, in no particular order:

  • The cover includes the title, subtitle, author’s name, and maybe a line or two from a famous person recommending the book:
    • The title is… the title. It may be clear (Anna Karenina, Jane Eyre, Wyrd Sisters—the audience knows what or who they’ll be reading about right away), descriptive (The Break, The Comedy of Errors, Death on the Nile—the plot may be conveyed in a general way with or without setting but without revealing much), symbolic (The Great Gatsby, Animal Farm, The Notebook—the true meaning becomes clear after the text has been read), and distinguished (Star Wars—different from other things, includes aspects of the story that want to be conveyed, may be similar to another title).
    • The subtitle, which offers more information about the story; may or may not be used.
    • Author’s name (or authors’ name, if more than one is credited).
    • Illustrator’s name (especially in children’s books).
    • There may also be a blurb—a short sentence praising the text (by an author or celebrity relevant to the genre). However, the blurb may also be in…
  • The back cover. This part may include:
    • A blurb (see above).
    • Book description, a short summary of the story presenting the main character(s) and plot, without spoiling anything. (For some reason, sometimes the description may be on the inside cover, although it’s not something I like, to be honest.)
    • A sentence or phrase that’s meant to entice the reader with a hint of the plot or themes.
    • A brief biography as well as a photo of the author (these may be included in the book’s internal content for design purposes).
    • An ISBN (International Standard Book Number), which is assigned to each book edition.
  • The spine includes the book title and author.

The internal content of a book, as I mentioned, differs in terms of genre, format, and a few more aspects. But some general parts you may find include:

  • Colophon: a page that includes the title, author, copyright information, publisher, ISBN…
  • Dedication: a page in which the author names the person(s) to whom she/he/they dedicate the book.
  • Epigraph: a phrase, quote, poem, or song lyrics, among others, that the author includes to set the mood or to anticipate themes or the plot.
  • The table of contents lists chapters, subchapters, and their respective page numbers. (In some books, to avoid potential spoilers if the chapters have titles that give away important information, this may be at the end of the text.)
  • Foreword: another author or person who writes about the historical context and importance of the text, or about the personal response or importance of the text.
  • Preface: the author explains how the story came to be.
  • Acknowledgments: the author thanks those who somehow helped or contributed to the production of the text.
  • Introduction: a part where the goals and purpose of the text are referred to.
  • Prologue: an opening to the story that presents the setting or an event that’s connected to the plot.
  • The actual text, which may be divided into books, parts, chapters, subchapters, sections, or modules, among other options.
  • Epilogue: a section that’s meant to bring closure to the story.
  • Afterword: by the author, explaining aspects of the text, how the book came to be, etc.
  • Addendum: corrections, updates, or explanations of inconsistencies.
  • Glossary: an alphabetical list of words or terms and their definitions, or a list of characters or places depending on the complexity or length of the text.
  • Bibliography: list of works referenced throughout the text or that were consulted.
  • Index: list of terms and the specific pages in which they appear.

As you can see, a book has many different parts, although they may not all appear in all kinds of texts. But it’s always interesting to read through them all, as the depth and meaning of the text may become even more significant to the overall reading experience.

Moira Daly

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