The Books are an American duo, formed in New York City in 1999, consisting of guitarist and vocalist Nick Zammuto and cellist Paul de Jong. Their releases typically incorporate samples of obscure sounds and speech. They have 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.
Zammuto and de Jong first met in New York City in 1999 as they shared the same apartment building. De Jong invited Zammuto to dinner at his apartment, where he played him some of his collection of audio and video samples, including a Shooby Taylor record. Zammuto said of their meeting that "we both kind of knew at that moment that we listened (to music) in interesting ways and had similar approaches to music." Soon after, they began playing what they considered to be pop music, in comparison to their own works, under the name The Books.
In 2000, The Books started work on what would become their début album Thought for Food. Zammuto and de Jong moved locations constantly during this time, recording in New York, Los Angeles, Boston, and finally in the basement of a hostel in North Carolina where Zammuto worked for a while after hiking the Appalachian Trail.