History of Books

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Books have been around for generations. But what happened that made books, books? Throughout the ages, books went through multiple phases. The type of phases where huge and most of the times weren’t even similar to the books we know today. The start of the story of books sets in 3,500 B.C. with symbols found on a tablet in what is known as Southern Mesopotamia. The people, called Sumarians, are believed to be the first people to use the earliest writing form called Cuneiform script. After 3,500 B.C. to 2,400 B.C., the world changes the way of writing things down on tablets to papers.

Throughout centuries, multiple different types of papers appeared; papyrus, parchment, and the outcome of the papermaker where important to books because they are all the foundations of books. Papyrus’s where originally made in 2,400 B.C. by the Nile River in Egypt. The Egyptians made books by having multiple papyrus sheets and glue them all together about 10 meters long. But each book could be longer be longer than 10 meters, although it was usually for Pharaohs. After centuries of making papyrus paper, the Greeks decided to make an object out of calfskin, sheepskin, or goatskin.

The change from papyrus to parchment was because there was a shortage of papyrus plants, the people needed to adapt to the change of loss of the plant. Parchment wherein use from 500 B.C. to 200 B.C. In the 109 A.D., a Chines official invented the papermaker. This affected the number of papers that were produced. It also let more people have access to papers. Other subcategories that this revolution evolved into was: paper towels, newspapers, and high-water resistance papers. This discovery soon evolved into the first ever printed book.

In 868 A.D., with the paper that was created by the papermaker process and the reverse characters on wooden blocks that were originally used to make prints on clothing, the first ever book was officially printed. This process was tedious and time-consuming. Each character had to be carved backward and in the negative space around the letter so its protruding outward. This went on for generations until a Chines gentleman named Bi Sheng in the 104 A.D. took the protruding characters and adapted them into a moving typewriter. This made printing letters much more accessible.

For years, from 104 A.D. till the death of Bi, he changed and tweaked the typewriter, so it would be more efficient. One change that was made was the wooden blocks, that absorbed the ink when applied, to into ceramic tablets. The tweaking continued until 1,230 A.D. in Korea when the first accepted typewriter was made. This typewriter also caused the first movable metal book in 1,344 A.D. called Jikji. Now that Asia had the typewriter for a few centuries, the idea migrated to Germany by a goldsmith named Johannes Gutenberg. Gutenberg used his knowledge he attained in Asia and his job to adjust the machine to make it more durable. This invention in Germany started making books cheaper to sell and help start the design of the printing press.

Now that the typewriter in Europe was built, Gutenberg decided that he will print the first major project for his machine. The book was Gutenberg Bible or the 42-line Bible, and it changes the world of books. The Bible started the printing revolution in 1,490 A.D. In 1,501 A.D. when the printing revolution began to slow down, improvements to how books where printed and the type font used. With the changes to the style of books started, they started getting smaller in size to fit popular demands of a more transportable book. These books were able to be carried in a pocket or a satchel. With the smaller books, the font was also changed to fit the pages. The invention of the italic type was born. Over 100 years later, the typewriters made it was way to American Colonies.

In Cambridge, Massachusetts, the first book of the colonies was made. The citizens made the book so that the other countries would see that America was an ‘advanced’ civilization. Centuries later, in 1,832, books started to be sold for cheap. This started happening because of the target audience where the working class and the juvenile. This means that the process of the books had to be cheaper in price. So, companies started making books only on paper, introducing the paperback. Without the hardcovers and the cheaper paper that companies started using, the price of books dropped to a reasonable price that anyone could buy.

While the Gutenberg Bible started to be print, the Printing Revolution in 1,490started. this was when the process of the typewriter migrated across Europe to over 236 countries. This revolution helped starts ‘bestselling’ books and the first newspaper. The Printing Revolution went on until 1,500 when the first modern paperback book was made. Books throughout the years when printed, nothing was different to what the people at that time were used to. Until in 1,744 when Carl Wilhelm Scheele found the chemical Chlorine. Why is this important? Chlorine is the reason why books today have the white pages that we know. Books upgrades didn’t stop there. In 1,832, book sleeves where invented. This is huge because we are still using the method today. But, the glory days of books are coming to its end and the darkness is coming.

During the early 90’s, hardcovers books were gaining popularity and paperbacks quality was pushed to the side. Companies started using cheaper paper, making the consumers choose the hardcovers. This almost causes paperbacks to go extinct. That was until a company, that would later become Random House, decided to save paperbacks and brought them to recognition. Sadly, this wasn’t the only time books were pushed aside. In 1,933, the Nazi’s started to burn all the books that didn’t follow their ideas. The great burnings ended up burning over 25,000 books that were deemed ‘un-German’. This made an entire culture and possible generations loss the choice of options when it comes to picking books out.

Years after the Nazi’s burning books, the internet was invented. This was important for the world and changed everything. It wasn’t until 1985 did books get an upgrade. That year is when the first ever book was put on CD. Though they were on cassette tapes beforehand, CD’s where more excepted. The population of CD books grew more and more books where recorded. But the start of audiobooks wasn’t the only change books went through. The demand for books grew and sites, like Amazon, decided to start selling books. Amazon’s idea of selling everything was proven correct at this moment. In 2000’s, e-books started to take storm. The original idea of e-books started in 1970 with the Gutenberg Project. But the idea wasn’t accepted or made until the 21st century. When e-books started to sell, the consumers went crazy.

Over 400,000 copies of the first e-book, Steven King “Riding the Bullet’ was sold within hours. At this time, there was no set place for e-books. They were just found and bought on the internet. But in 2007, Kindle was created. Over the early 2000’s, Kindle tablets went through changes to make it easier to read. The screens got bigger, the options to change the font size was added, the options to change the brightness was too, and other things also. Along the way, other companies started to create their own type of tablets to fight kindles popularity.

Cite this paper

History of Books. (2021, Aug 31). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/history-of-books/

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