What Is a Chapbook

Glossary > Chapbook

💬 Definition of a Chapbook:

A chapbook is a small publication, referred to as a pamphlet in the UK, that typically contains poems, ballads, stories, or religious tracts, and is usually no more than 40 pages long. These booklets are typically bound using a saddle stitch, which involves securing the pages with just a few staples along the spine. 

Related questions about a chapbook:

What is considered a chapbook?

While chapbooks are most commonly used by poets in today’s publishing landscape, they originally included a wide range of genres such as children's literature, folk tales from various cultures, humor, crime and mystery tales, and even political topics.

The modern chapbook can be traced back to the American beat poets, who self published their work as a means of bypassing traditional publishers. For this reason, chapbooks still play an important role in poetry. The medium is slightly changing, and as a result, e-chapbooks have also emerged.

What is the difference between a book and a chapbook?

In the 19th century, these books were sold in the street by peddlers known as chapmen. These men traveled through the country, selling books and other goods at an affordable price to people who previously did not have access to books.

Is a chapbook a zine?

The most significant contrast between them is that the chapbook is typically the work of one author, while a zine is composed of work from different authors and artists and compiled by an editor. A zine is a homemade, small-circulation magazine, which was traditionally photocopied, but can now also be found in digital formats.

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