Pamphlet

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An 18th-century painting of a girl with a Basket of Pamphlets
Due to their low cost and ease of production, pamphlets have often been used to popularize political or religious ideas.

A pamphlet is an unbound booklet (that is, without a hard cover or binding). It may consist of a single sheet of paper that is printed on both sides and folded in half, in thirds, or in fourths (called a leaflet), or it may consist of a few pages that are folded in half and saddle stapled at the crease to make a simple book.

In order to count as a pamphlet, UNESCO requires a publication (other than a periodical) to have "at least 5 but not more than 48 pages exclusive of the cover pages"; a longer item is a book.1

Etymology

The word pamphlet for a small work (opuscule) issued by itself without covers came into Middle English ca 1387 as pamphilet or panflet, generalized from a twelfth-century amatory comic poem with an old flavor, Pamphilus, seu de Amore ("Pamphilus: or, Concerning Love"), written in Latin.23 Pamphilus's name is derived from the Greek name Πάμφιλος, meaning "beloved of all".4 The poem was popular and widely copied and circulated on its own, forming a slim codex.

The pamphlet form of literature has been used for centuries as an economical vehicle for the broad distribution of information.

Its modern connotations of a tract concerning a contemporary issue was a product of the heated arguments leading to the English Civil War; this sense appeared in 1642.3 In some European languages other than English, this secondary connotation, of a disputatious tract, has come to the fore: compare libelle, from the Latin libellus, denoting a "little book".5

Pamphlets can contain anything from information on kitchen appliances to medical information and religious treatises. Pamphlets are very important in marketing as they are cheap to produce and can be distributed easily to customers. Pamphlets have also long been an important tool of political protest and political campaigning for similar reasons.

Collectibility

Ephemeral and to wide array of political or religious perspectives given voice by the format's ease of production, pamphlets are prized by many book collectors. Substantial accumulations have been amassed and transferred to ownership of academic research libraries around the world.

Particularly comprehensive collections of American political pamphlets are housed at New York Public Library, the Tamiment Library of New York University, and the Jo Labadie collection at the University of Michigan.6

Commercial uses

Pamphlets on the road at Mythrivanam, Hyderabad

The pamphlet has been widely adopted in commerce, particularly as a format for marketing communications. There are numerous purposes for the pamphlets, such as product descriptions or instructions, corporate information, events promotions or tourism guides and are used in the same way as leaflets, brochures.

See also

Footnotes

  1. ^ UNESCO definition
  2. ^ OED s.v. "pamphlet".
  3. ^ a b Harper, Douglas. "pamphlet". Online Etymology Dictionary. 
  4. ^ πάμφιλος. Liddell, Henry George; Scott, Robert; A Greek–English Lexicon at the Perseus Project.
  5. ^ In German, French, and Italian pamphlet often has negative connotations of slanderous libel or religious propaganda; idiomatic neutral translations of English pamphlet include "Flugblatt" and "Broschüre" in German and "Fascicule" in French. In Russian and Romanian, the word "памфлет" in Russian Cyrillic, "pamflet" in Romanian also normally connotes a work of propaganda or satire, so it is best translated as "brochure" ("брошюра" in Russian, broşură in Romanian). (DEX online - Cautare: pamflet)
  6. ^ Oakley C. Johnson, Marxism in United States History Before the Russian Revolution (1876-1917). New York: Humanities Press, 1974; pg. vii.

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