Shohei Yamada
The University of Tokyo, Graduate School of Education, Japan
(syamada@p.u-tokyo.ac.jp)

Ruri Shimura
The University of Tokyo, Graduate School of Education, Japan
(shimshim_rr@hotmail.co.jp)

Bin Umino
Toyo University, Faculty of Sociology, Japan
(umino@toyo.jp)

Shin’ichi Toda
Toyo University, Faculty of Sociology, Japan
(toda@toyo.jp)

Kyo Kageura
The University of Tokyo, Interfaculty Initiative in Information Studies, Japan
(kyo@p.u-tokyo.ac.jp)

Background. Printed books occupy a privileged position in the knowledge infrastructure of modern society. Nevertheless, their physical and symbolic arrangements and characteristics have not yet been systematically studied.
Objective. We examined several physico-symbolic characteristics of the Japanese paperback book series Shinsho and identified how they changed over the past 70 years. We selected Iwanami Shinsho for analysis, as it has the longest history among the current Shinsho series and is widely held to be the best Shinsho series in providing lay readers with authentic knowledge.
Method. We analysed the physico-symbolic characteristics of the books, including size and thickness of the books, size of live area, and arrangement of characters, and then provided descriptive statistics and plots for these characteristics.
Results. This study revealed some interesting points related to chronological change. First, the height of the live area has increased by 7 mm in the past 70 years, even though the height of the pages has not changed so much. Second, the number of characters per double page spread has decreased since the 1970s. Third, while the size of the content was stable at around 140,000 characters from the 1950s to the 1990s, there is a decreasing trend from the 1990s.
Contributions. Understanding how knowledge for lay readers is represented within books is important, given that the form and arrangement of knowledge representation affects how knowledge is understood. In addition, the results of the study provide useful information for the design of the physico-symbolic characteristics of Shinsho and other book forms.

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Cite: Yamada, S., Shimura, R., Umimo, B., Toda, S., & Kageura, K. (2017). Physico-symbolic characteristics of the Japanese paperback book series Shinsho: A descriptive study. LIBRES, 27(1), 39-52.