“Chapbook” is often the moniker for a smallish publication containing poems or perhaps short stories or other material, often cheaply published and/or self-published.
The word itself was introduced in the early 19th century, although the genre of chapbooks has been around since the 16th century, when printed books started to become affordable after Gutenberg invented the European printing press in the middle of the 15th century.
Small books with modest (or no) covers, and perhaps up to 24 pages, circulated for hundreds of years, boosting the availability of almanacs, children’s stories, folk tales, poetry, and political and religious tracts.
In the early 19th century, in England, the books were distributed by peddlers or other salesmen known as “chapmen,” thus the books were “chapmen’s books” and you can take it from there.
Some modern chapbooks can be very expensively produced with handmade papers and such, but more typically they are modest publications with limited press run, produced by folks who want to publish but can’t find a commercial publisher.
Copyright © Richard Carl Subber 2016 All rights reserved.