March 2017: History of Print Books

Today’s readers can pick up a book or turn on a screen to read, but once upon a time, choices were limited.  Read on to discover the fascinating history of print books.

The first written material was printed on fabrics or silks. And the first printed book was a scroll 16 feet long and a foot high (done by the Chinese in 868). Go to this site to read all about it:

http://www.historyworld.net/wrldhis/PlainTextHistories.asp?ParagraphID=dyr

Early paper was made from rags, such as linen, rather than wood pulp, and it became popular as a writing material only around the twelfth century.

http://www.skypoint.com/members/waltzmn/BookMaking.html

Cai Lun of China is credited as the inventor of paper. Read all about him at:

http://www.paperdiscoverycenter.org/cailun/

Cai Lun Making Paper

The drawing above is from the Paper Discovery Center in Wisconsin that celebrates “all things paper”. Their fascinating website is:

http://www.paperdiscoverycenter.org/

To see a video of paper being made by hand, go to this site:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UG9EMhwvRhI

This site will show you how paper is made today.

http://wipapercouncil.org/about-paper/how-paper-is-made/

Chinese monks began printing by using wooden blocks dipped into ink and pressed on sheets of paper. Read all about it here:

http://www.livescience.com/43639-who-invented-the-printing-press.html

Once paper was able to be made and letters blocked out with ink, the printing press was just waiting to be invented. Johannes Gutenberg developed the first movable printing press in the 15th century. The press had moving metal type with individual letters and symbols. The press was the beginning of mass-produced books or documents.These sites will tell you all about it:

http://www.historyguide.org/intellect/press.html

http://www.biography.com/people/johannes-gutenberg-9323828

A great timeline for how things came about is by the American Printing History Association. See their website at:

https://printinghistory.org/timeline/