When Were Books First Made?
Books have a long history. When ancient civilizations first started developing writing systems, they would write on just about anything, from stone to tree bark. Thousands of years ago people carved their writings into clay tablets.
The ancient Egyptians found a better way to produce books. They used papyrus, a reed like plant, for paper. Papyrus plants were pressed into long sheets that were rolled around sticks. These were scrolls.
Books as we know them didn’t appear until about A.D. 300. They were made of pages of parchment bound together. Parchment was made from animal skins. For thousands of years all books were written by hand with a brush, a reed, or a quill.
In the mid-15th century, German Johannes Gutenberg invented the first mechanical printing press. His invention was revolutionary because it enabled mass production of books for the first time.
Before the printing press, a few pages per day could be produced by hand-copying. Afterward, printing presses could produce as many as 3,600 pages per day.
Today, modern publishers take advantage of incredible advances in technology to produce books in many sizes and shapes very quickly. Although there are many types of processes and machines available, most processes involve similar steps.
Printers print the text of a book on large sheets of paper, sometimes as large as a newspaper page. Working with large volumes of paper allows printers to lower costs and produce books more efficiently.
The large sheets are then cut into smaller pages that are still about twice the size of a finished book. The smaller pages are then divided into small groups, folded in half and sewn together.
Lastly, the folded and sewn pages are cut down to their finished size and glued to the spine of the final book’s cover.
Depending on the quality of the book, additional finishing touches may be added, such as blank pages at the front and back of the book or special tape around the edges of the cover to increase durability.