The Evolution of the book

When writing system were created in the ancient civilizations, a variety of objects, such as stone, clay treebark, metal sheets, might be used for writing. As books now reached the 21st century with the creation of the increasingly popular e-book format.

We thought it would be a good idea to take a look back at the long and involved history of the humble book. From the clay tablets to the e-book format, the book has enjoyed a remarkable evolution.


A tablet might be defined as a physically writing medium, suitable for casual transport and writing. Current understanding suggests that the very first attempts to transcribe symbols onto moveable materials were an ancient group of people known as Sumarians who lived in southern Mesopotamia around 3500 BC .


Papyrus Scrolls

The Ancient Egyptians would often write on Papyrus, a plant grown along the Nile River. At the first the words were not separated from each other, which is called scripture continua, and there was no punctuation as well. Texts were written from right to left, left to right, or even so that alternate lines read in opposite directions, which is known as ‘boustrophedon’.

The earliest surviving Papyrus scrolls that contain written words date back to around 2400 BC, originating in Egypt (The Fifth Dynasty of King Neferirkare Kakai), although it has suggested by historians that papyrus could have been used as early as the First Dynasty (3100 BC).




“A codex is composed of many books; a book is of one scroll. It is called codex by way of metaphor from the trunks (codex) of trees or vines, as if it were a wooden stock, because it contains in itself a multitude of books, as it were of branches.” Modern usage differs.

A codex (in modern usage) is the first information repository that modern people would recognize as a “book”: leaves of uniform size bound in some manner along one edge, and typically held between two covers made of some more robust material.




 Papyrus became difficult to obtain due to lack of contact with Egypt. Than a thin material that is made from calfskin, sheepskin or even goatskin, called Parchment was developed as a substitute to Papyrus. The finer quality parchments are known as vellum and even in the modern age parchment has been called the “finest writing material ever devised” with even the most modern papers not reaching the quality of the finest vellum.



Wood block printing

This method originated in China, in the Han dynasty(before 220 AD), as a method of printing on textiles and later paper, and was widely used throughout East Asia. The oldest dated book printed by this method is The Diamond Sutra (868 AD). In woodblock printing, a relief image of an entire page was carved into blocks of wood, inked, and used to print copies of that page.


Movable type and incunabula:

The Chinese inventor Bi Sheng made movable type of earthenware circa 1045, but there are no known surviving examples of his printing. Around 1450, in what is commonly regarded as an independent invention, Johannes Gutenberg invented movable type in Europe, along with innovations in casting the type based on a matrix and hand mould. This invention gradually made books less expensive to produce, and more widely available.


Modern world

Steam-powered printing presses became popular in the early 19th century. These machines could print 1,100 sheets per hour, but workers could only set 2,000 letters per hour

Monotype and linotype typesetting machines were introduced in the late 19th century. They could set more than 6,000 letters per hour and an entire line of type at once.

The centuries after the 15th century were thus spent on improving both the printing press and the conditions for freedom of the press through the gradual relaxation of restrictive censorship laws. See also intellectual property, public domain, copyright. In mid-20th century, European book production had risen to over 200,000 titles per year.


The author Charitz

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