When Did Books First Appear?

The oldest books known were baked clay tablets used about 3500 B.C. in Mesopotamia. They were deeds to land and other business records.

By 25 B.C., the Egyptians had found a better way to produce books. They used papyrus, a reed-like plant, and pasted layers of its inner bark together, making a sheet. Sheets were rolled up around sticks at either end when not in use. Sheets of papyrus from these early books have been found to be as big as 144 feet long and a foot wide. Literary works and official documents were written on the papyrus with reed pens. These were the forerunners of modern printed books.

The Romans later used the same roll-up form for their books as the Egyptians did, but instead of papyrus, they used the prepared skins of sheep or calves called parchment. Parchment was later arranged in tablets of three leaves, which was the beginning of the modern form of books.

Paper, a name given to material made from pulp of linen rags, appeared in the 10th century. Early books were made of a single sheet folded once and collected into sections. Thin wooden boards were placed around the leaves to protect them. These large boards were later joined to the pages, and the first bound book was created.

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About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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