The history of books begins with the development of writing, and continues through the development of the book printing business. Before the development of the conventionally called “books,” the first types of books were tablets, scrolls, and sheets of papyrus. Eventually, books began to be produced in the format we know today, called a codex. These books were expensive and hand-bound, and were often written by experts.
Gutenberg’s invention of mechanical movable type
The invention of Gutenberg’s mechanical movable type revolutionized European bookmaking. Before Gutenberg, most books were handwritten manuscripts. Even paper money and playing cards were block-printed from wooden blocks. Gutenberg’s mechanical movable type was a more practical method of producing readable print and saving money. Instead of using wood blocks and other expensive materials, Gutenberg’s movable type used metal letters mounted on a metal shaft. This allowed the letters to be arranged in any way they desired, and it made the process of reproducing multiple copies easier and faster than before. Gutenberg’s method was eventually adopted by printing presses throughout Europe.
Gutenberg’s invention of mechanical movably type made it possible to produce printed books at scale, which allowed the spread of knowledge. While the printing press was first invented by German goldsmith Johannes Gutenberg around 1436, it has been claimed that a number of ancient techniques had already been used before Gutenberg’s invention. For example, Chinese bookmakers were using woodblocks to print books in the ninth century, and Korean bookmakers were printing with moveable metal types more than a century before Gutenberg.
Origins of book printing
Before books were printed, people collected writings in a variety of ways. In ancient Egypt, for example, people wrote on papyrus scrolls, which were made of tall reeds in the Nile Valley. The individual sheets of papyrus were then glued or stitched together to form a scroll.
In the Tang Dynasty of China, block printing on paper was invented around 700 CE. However, it would be another 800 years before block printing reached Europe. The oldest dated printed paper is a 2.5-inch-wide scroll of Buddhist prayers commissioned by the Empress Shotoku in 764 CE. The oldest dated printed book is the Buddhist text Diamond Sutra (868 CE). Early book printing methods incorporated block printing.
First book printed in Europe
During the Renaissance, print materials began to become more affordable and available for the middle class. As a result, cities all over Europe began to boast printing companies. With the printing press, cities could produce large numbers of books quickly. Some cities produced as many as 2,000 books per year. By the fifteenth century, Europe had printed over two million books. By the 1550s, that number had increased to twenty-five million, and by the 1600s, there were over 150 million books printed in Europe.
Until the fifteenth century, books were created on rolls of animal skin or paper. Many early books were also illustrated. The invention of printing presses was a result of the demand for religious texts. The demand for printed books led to a decrease in prices, which allowed more people to read. The printing press was also a significant factor in the transmission of ideas across Europe. It enabled scholars to publish their own works, commenting on ancient texts, and even criticizing each other.
First book printed on paper
The first book printed on paper dates to the Tang Dynasty in China (around 700 CE), though it would not reach Europe for another 800 years. One of the earliest dated printed works is a 2.5-inch-wide scroll containing Buddhist prayers, commissioned by the Empress Shotoku in 764 CE. The first movable type dates to 1045 in China, when the Chinese invented a method of creating hundreds of individual characters with a wooden block.
In the 1450s, Johann Gutenberg’s printing process made the process of creating a book far easier, allowing for more copies to be produced for distribution. This made books more affordable and available to the general public.
First book printed in China
The printing press revolutionized society, making it possible to produce printed material in mass quantities. It was invented by Johannes Gutenberg in the 15th century. However, the earliest book to be printed dates back to China, during the first millennium A.D., when the Diamond Sutra was created. It is a Buddhist text that was printed by using block printing, which involved arranging panels of hand-carved wood blocks backwards.
Bi Sheng, who lived between 970 and 1051 A.D., was the first to create movable type. These letters, which could be reused, were carved into wood blocks. They were then arranged on an iron frame and pressed against a printing plate. Bi Sheng’s printing press is mentioned for the first time in his Dream Pool Essays. In addition, he developed metal block printing during the early printing period.
First book printed in the United States
The Bay Psalm Book, the first book printed in the United States, is believed to have been printed in 1640. Today, only 11 copies of the religious volume remain. In 1647, the Old South Church of Boston voted to sell two of its copies for $14 each. This makes the Bay Psalm Book one of the most valuable books in the world.
In the eighteenth century, the printing of poetry and pamphlets dominated the country. Narrative fiction, however, did not follow suit. In 1789, William Hill Brown produced the first American novel. The novel featured themes of seduction and infidelity, as well as incest. It also featured characters who were driven to suicide and who were prone to emotional weakness. The novel aimed to educate women in virtue and promote virtue in the new republic.