In their introduction to Paper: Material, Medium, and Magic, editors by Neil Holt and Nicola von Velsen argue that, despite the rise of digital media, paper retains its aesthetic value, and that its use in art and design deserves more consideration: "Such a history of paper has not, to our knowledge, yet been told." This is therefore the first book to provide a broad survey of paper as an artistic medium, with chapters on decorated paper, Japanese washi, pop-up books, origami, typography, marbling, and cartography (amongst other subjects).
As the editors recognise, most chapters "develop their themes in a rather cursory manner," given the book's wide scope, though some essays (on coloured paper, fine art, watermarks, and paper art) are more substantial. Many historical and contemporary illustrations are included. There is also a selected bibliography, to which could be added Marbling (by Phoebe Jane Easton), Marbled Paper (Richard J. Wolfe), The Papered Wall (Lesley Hoskins), History of Cartography (Leo Bagrow), and Printing Types (Daniel Updike). (Paper was translated from the German Papier: Material, Medium und Faszination; the English edition has an additional editor, Stephanie Jacobs.)