So, what the heck
is a Chap Book?

A chap book, also chap-book or chapbook, is said by one source to have grown out of an earlier tradition of inexpensive literature, must commonly containing songs, poems, short folk stories, etc. This source dates this style of book making back to the eighteenth- and nineteenth century. Printers sold the books to itinerate peddlers called "chapmen," who intern sold them along with an assortment of other small goods. The typical customer for the chap book was literate, but also quite poor.

Another source dates the origin of the books back to earlier times, stating that they had their beginning in the last quarter of the 14th century. It was the new technology of Gutenberg that made it possible to create books cheaply and in large amounts.

Early in the English Renaissance period a printer could print on a single sheet, but because of the poor quality of the paper the ink would bleed through. Therefore, printing would be on one side only. The large sheet would then be sold and the customer would often fold it in half or quarters.

Some say that the inexpensive bare-bones "chap book" is a derivation of the name "cheap book." Even today the chap book is a low cost smaller-sized book with an inexpensive cover, stapled or "saddle-stitched" together. The number of pages might be as low as 20, and usually would not exceed 50. The chap book today is very popular among poets. It is a way for a poet to give away or sell at minimal cost a sample of his or her work.

Return to the description of the chap book by Bob Birch titled Birch Barks: A Sampler of Poems Both Naughty and Nice

The lewd collection of lascivious lyrics, titled Bawdy Ballads & Lecherous Limericks, by Bob Birch, is also printed in the chap book format. Check it out . . . this low cost poetry is priceless!

IF YOU ENJOY POETRY, BOTH NAUGHTY AND NICE, VISIT BOB BIRCH'S POETRY SITE AT POETRY-NUT.COM.

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