The Books were an American-Dutch duo, formed in New York City in 1999, consisting of guitarist and vocalist Nick Zammuto and cellist Paul de Jong. Their releases typically incorporated samples of obscure sounds and speech. They released three critically acclaimed albums on the German label Tomlab, and released their fourth studio album, The Way Out, on Temporary Residence Limited in July 2010.
The Books are commonly cited by critics to be of a genre of their own. Zammuto has described it as collage music. Paul de Jong described it as "the new folk music...[w]e make our own instruments, use our own libraries of sound bites while trying to create something universally human." Although they have said that their influences include Nirvana, David Bowie, Roxy Music as well as new wave and classical music, these do not show prominently in their music, though Zammuto was directly influenced by electronic musicians Squarepusher, Aphex Twin and Boards of Canada.
The Books' music usually consists of acoustic instrumentation of folk melodies usually played on guitar, cello, banjo and more, combined with a diverse range of samples obtained from cassettes found in thrift stores, which are digitally processed and edited. They also rarely use a drum kit in recordings and performances, instead favouring everyday objects like children's toys and filing cabinets, which were sampled and looped. Some observers contend that their music is aleatoric, but Zammuto has disagreed, saying the music is very tightly controlled.