A simple word with a tangled etymology. The Oxford English Dictionary tells us it is “A word or agglomeration of words of complicated history, representing two originally distinct nouns, already blended in Old English, and subsequently reinforced in Middle English by French uses of one of them, and possibly by Scandinavian uses of one or both.” The two ancestral words are basically “a plank” and “a border, hence the edge of a boat”. It looks like we get to “board and lodging” via plank as a table, and thence the fare put onto that table; whence also Board of Directors.

For book people though the real meaning of board is those cardboard pieces used to make a hardback binding.

Illustration: Bookmobile

In early days boards used to bind a book were usually real wooden boards, so the transfer of the word to the cardboard equivalents was rather inevitable.

There are two basic types of board available to the book manufacturing industry today: binders board and what we refer to as pasted or chip board. As always book making nomenclature is not precise. It often depends on what different manufacturers chose to call their product. Binders board is made on a Fourdrinier machine in the same way as paper, but obviously in much greater thicknesses. Pasted board refers strictly speaking to a board made by laminating sheets of paper together with paste and pressure. But boards tend not to be made this way nowadays. What is referred to as pasted board will tend to be chip board, made from waste and offcuts chopped up and pressed together.

Binders board is available in four thicknesses: 70 point (which means 0.07″ or 1/15″) = 1.8mm; 80 point (1/12″) = 2.0mm; 98 point (1/10″) = 2.5mm; and 120 point (⅛”) = 3.0mm. Clearly the bigger the book the higher the grade. The higher the grade the less likelihood of warping. Binders board will/should be less liable to warping than chipboard.