History Of Books

History Of Books

Early Forms of Books

Transition to Paper

Printing Press Effects

 

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Book Origins

The oldest known forms of writing are primarily pictoral in nature and appear to have originated between 7BC and 4BC. As time progressed, syllabic and alphabetic writing emerged.

Humans have long been recording their events and lives. From paintings on walls (seen in Egyptian and other native architecture) to carvings in stone, the history of people has been painstakingly detailed. Naturally, the desire to condense and store these records set in. Stone tablets condensed what was painted on long walls and made a portable account. But wood was the first medium to act as a book. In fact, the words "biblos" and "liber" first meant "fibre inside a tree". Early wooden tablets, known as Rongorongo, surface even on Easter Island.

China was also a foreground for what would eventually become the book. In Chinese, the character-symbol that means "book" is an image of a bamboo tablet. Silk was also a writing base, and writing was accomplished with brushes.

In short, our ancestors throughout the world were full of the need to write and document. Depending on geographic location, a variety of other materials acted as the repository for their written words. China used the additional materials of bone, pottery, shell, and bronze. India used dried palm tree leaves. In Mesoamerica, the Amate plant was dried and used as a writing medium. Essentially, any material which will hold and transmit text is a candidate for making books.

But these early origins became cumbersom, and as surrounding technology developed, so did the book. Clay and Wax tablets would be the first to emerge as viable candidates for what would eventually become the bound book we know today.

Purpose of the Book:

As it has been mentioned above, the book began as a desire to document historical events and sacred traditions for individual groups or tribes of people.

Today we often think of the book as a form of entertainment.  But for centuries the written account existed merely to record the progression of a set of specific events.  Entertainment through reading was unknown to humankind.

Developments in technology, such as the printing press, later combined with the rise of Christianity to bring books out of the hands of scholars and into those of the general populace.  However, it would be several hundred years before reading for pleasure becomes a common activity. Contemporary Publishing has seen even more developments, making the book a tangible item that is here to stay, despite it's many, changing forms.

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