Historians do not know when the first books appeared, but there is evidence that books were written in Egypt as early as 2700 B.C
In Egypt, people wrote on papyrus. The word paper comes from papyrus. Egyptian books consisted of scrolls. But books were not an invention of any one time or place.
In Babylonia clay tablets with cuneiform writing was an early form of book.
About 500 B.C., the ancient Greeks adopted the Egyptian papyrus scrolls as their chief writing material. They also used wooden tablets covered with wax as notebooks.
The Romans adopted the scroll book and wax tablet used by the Greeks.
The gradual replacement of papyrus with parchment, from about 200B.C, was an important step towards the modern books.
During the A.D 300s, the Romans developed a new type of book called the codex.
Indians and their Neighbours used palm leaves for their manuscripts. The ancient Hindu religious writings, called the Vedas, were probably originally written on palm leaves.
During the middle ages, the Christian church was the centre of learning in Europe. Priests and Monks working in churches and monasteries preserved the skills of writing and book making. They made books by hand, binding them in codex form. Professional writers called scribes wrote most books.
A characteristic feature of the books of the middle ages was that they were illuminated.
During the late 700 the scribes developed a style of writing that made books easier to read. Thin contrast to the old roman writing,
These books used capital and small letters, set up a system for punctuation, and left space between words. The new writing style looked much like the type used in modern printed books.
The printed books were developed around this time. The first printed book was Diamond sutra which was printed in China by the method of Block printing. This method spread to Europe only by the 1300s.
The Chinese invented the movable type, which resulted in the kinds of books that we use today.
Parchment was replaced by cotton and linen. Paper was not as strong as parchment, but it cost far less to make. The idea for making paper probably came from china where it had been known since A.D. 105.
By the 1300s the demand for books began to increase greatly with the growth of a literate middle class population in cities.
Block printing also became famous in Europe. With block printing, could make a copy of a page more rapidly than could be done by hand.
The Chinese invention of movable type spread to Korea.
The Europeans developed the movable type independently. The first printed books appeared in Mainz, Germany. Johannes Guttenberg was the man behind the printing process.
Books printed from about 1450-1500 are called Incunabula.
Woodcuts became the most commonly used type book illustrations in the 1500s.by this time, every European country had at least one printing press. Paris also became an important centre for book making.
By the late 1500s, books produced by European printers looked much like they do today. Printers had stopped imitating manuscripts of the middle ages. They produced smaller books and were inexpensive and easy to carry.
In this period in Europe the number of people who could read increased greatly. There was a general decline in fine design and fewer advances in the book design compared to 1500s.
During 1700s many printers revived interest in fine book making.
The first printing press in the New World was set up in Mexico City and the number of printing presses over the world increased.
By the 1800, the market for books exceeded the number being produced. Book manufacturing was revolutionized by a number of inventions. Paperback books became popular in Europe and the United States. Publisher produced cheap paper that turned brown and brittle with age and bindings were poorly glued. By late 1800s several printers dedicated themselves to improving the quality of books. Paper makers and printers experimented with more interesting techniques and styles.
With this we come to the end of the history of books. After this long and tiring history, signs of modernity are traced and today, books can be seen in their present form.
Dates accurate according to World Book Encylopaedia
Pictures courtesy : www.wikipedia.org