History of books
The history of the book became an acknowledged academic discipline in the 1980s, Contributors to the discipline include specialists from the fields of textual scholarship, codicology, bibliography, philology, palaeography, art history, social history and cultural history. Its key purpose is to demonstrate that the book as an object, not just the text contained within it, is a conduit of interaction between readers and words.
Prior to the evolution of the printing press, made famous by the Gutenberg Bible, each text was a unique hand crafted article, personalized through the design features incorporated by the scribe, owner, bookbinder and illustrator. Analysis of each component part of the book reveals its purpose, where and how it was kept, who read it, ideological and religious beliefs of the period and whether readers interacted with the text within. Even a lack of evidence of this nature leaves valuable clues about the nature of that particular book.
Clay tablets were used in Mesopotamia in the 3rd millennium BC. The calamus, an instrument in the form of a triangle, was used to make characters in moist clay. People used to use fire to dry the tablets out. At Nineveh, over 20,000 tablets were found, dating from the 7th century BC; this was the archive and library of the kings of Assyria, who had workshops of copyists and conservationists at their disposal. This presupposes a degree of organization with respect to books, consideration given to conservation, classification, etc. Tablets were used right up until the 19th century in various parts of the world, including Germany, Chile, Philippines and the Saharan Desert.
Cuneiform and Sumerian Writing
Writing originated as a form of record keeping in Sumer during the fourth millennium BCE with the advent of cuneiform. Many clay tablets have been found that show cuneiform writing used to record legal contracts, create lists of assets, and eventually to record Sumerian literature and myths. Scribal schools have been found by archaeologists from as early as the second millennium BCE where students were taught the art of writing.
After extracting the marrow from the stems of Papyrus reed, a series of steps (humidification, pressing, drying, gluing, and cutting) produced media of variable quality, the best being used for sacred writing. In Ancient Egypt, papyrus was used as a medium for writing surfaces, maybe as early as from First Dynasty, but first evidence is from the account books of King Neferirkare Kakai of the Fifth Dynasty (about 2400 BC). A calamus, the stem of a reed sharpened to a point, or bird feathers were used for writing. The script of Egyptian scribes was called hieratic, or sacerdotal writing; it is not hieroglyphic, but a simplified form more adapted to manuscript writing (hieroglyphs usually being engraved or painted). Egyptians exported papyrus to other Mediterranean civilizations including Greece and Rome where it was used until parchment was developed.
Papyrus books were in the form of a scroll of several sheets pasted together, for a total length of 10 meters or more. Some books, such as the history of the reign of Ramses III, were over 40 meters long. Books rolled out horizontally; the text occupied one side, and was divided into columns. The title was indicated by a label attached to the cylinder containing the book. Many papyrus texts come from tombs, where prayers and sacred texts were deposited (such as the Book of the Dead, from the early 2nd millennium BC).
Before the introduction of books, writing on bone, shells, wood and silk was prevalent in China long before the 2nd century BC, until paper was invented in China around the 1st century AD. China's first recognizable books, called jiance or jiandu, were made of rolls of thin split and dried bamboo bound together with hemp, silk, or leather. The discovery of the process using the bark of the blackberry bush to create paper is attributed to Ts'ai Lun (the cousin of Kar-Shun), but it may be older. Texts were reproduced by woodblock printing; the diffusion of Buddhist texts was a main impetus to large-scale production. The format of the book evolved with intermediate stages of scrolls folded concertina-style, scrolls bound at one edge ("butterfly books") and so on.
Although there is no exact date known, between 618 and 907 AD–The period of the Tang Dynasty–the first printing of books started in China. The oldest extant printed book is a work of the Diamond Sutra and dates back to 868 AD, during the Tang Dynasty. The Diamond Sutra was printed by method of woodblock printing, a strenuous method in which the text to be printed would be carved into a woodblock's surface, essentially to be used to stamp the words onto the writing surface medium. Woodblock printing was a common process for the reproduction of already handwritten texts during the earliest stages of book printing. This process was incredibly time-consuming.
Because of the meticulous and time-consuming process that woodblock printing was, Bi Sheng, a key contributor to the history of printing, invented the process of movable type printing (1041-1048 AD). Bi Sheng developed a printing process in which written text could be copied with the use of formed character types, the earliest types being made of ceramic or clay material. The method of movable type printing would later become improved by Johannes Gutenberg.
Early seventeenth century Japan saw a large amount of extremely detail oriented text being produced. For instance, Hitomi Hitsudai spent thirty years taking field notes on 492 types of edible flowers and animals in his book Honcho shokkan(The Culinary Mirror of the Realm). This overly detailed style of writing was characteristic of the years prior, when the majority of literate people were of higher classes. Soon after, literacy rates began to increase as hundreds(by some accounts thousands) of schools taught children the vocabulary of geography, history, and individual crafts and callings. The highly detailed style still persisted as it was consistent in many gazetteers, emerging as a social lexicon. In some instances family almanacs and encyclopedias were put together regionally.
While the highly detailed writing form persisted, a simpler reading style developed in the 1670’s that were written for popular readership. It was characterized by a simpler vernacular language, written almost directly for first time book buyers. These original tales of fiction were popular among common samurai as well common townspeople. Works went beyond stories of fiction, but also would depict certain crafts and manuals specialized for that topic. The writing of these more popularized books was a newly emerging form of script. Authors had, for the first time, to deal with the idea of the “reading public” for the first time. Authors took into account the differing social stratas of their audience and had to learn “the common forms of reference that made the words and images of a text intelligible” to the layman.
Authors had reached a new market with their more simplistic writing. After passing this hurdle, they began writing about more than specified crafts and social lexicons. For the first time, writers had opened the power to make once private knowledge public and moved into more regional information guides. Yet still, the detail oriented writing persisted as writing became understand as something that needed to be “quantitative evidence in order to measure continuity against change.” The increasing literacy across Japan as well as the proliferation of authors made writing a semi-autonomous system, but there were still instances of censorship in the late seventeenth century. Despite the vast depiction of landscape, governmental powers ensured areas that entailed sensitive subjects, such as military households, foreign affairs, Christianity and other heterodox beliefs, and disturbing current events, were kept out of public works. This self censorship did have drawbacks as social commentary stayed in the higher social caste where this information was more readily available. Despite these censors, public readings increased across Japan and created new markets that could be shared between the higher elites as well as middlebrow peoples, albeit differing subject matter.
Pre-columbian codices of the Americas
In Mesoamerica, information was recorded on long strips of paper, agave fibers, or animal hides, which were then folded and protected by wooden covers. These were thought to have existed since the time of the Classical Period between the 3rd and 8th centuries, CE. Many of these codices were thought to contain astrological information, religious calendars, knowledge about the gods, genealogies of the rulers, cartographic information, and tribute collection. Many of these codices were stored in temples but were ultimately destroyed by the Spanish explorers.
Currently, the only completely deciphered pre-Columbian writing system is the Maya script. The Maya, along with several other cultures in Mesoamerica, constructed concertina-style books written on Amate paper. Nearly all Mayan texts were destroyed by the Spanish during colonization on cultural and religious grounds. One of the few surviving examples is the Dresden Codex.
Although only the Maya have been shown to have a writing system capable of conveying any concept that can be conveyed via speech (at about the same level as the modern Japanese writing system), other Mesoamerican cultures had more rudimentary ideographical writing systems which were contained in similar concertina-style books, one such example being the Aztec codices.
There are more than 2,000 illustrations drawn by native artists that represent this era. Bernardino de Sahagun tells the story of Aztec people's lives and their natural history. The Florentine Codex speaks about the culture religious cosmology and ritual practices, society, economics, and natural history of the Aztec people. The manuscript are arranged in both the Nahuatl language and in Spanish. The English translation of the complete Nahuatl text of all twelve volumes of the Florentine Codex took ten years. Arthur J.O. Anderson and Charles Dibble had a decade of long work but made it an important contribution to Mesoamerican ethnohistory. Years later, in 1979, the Mexican government published a full-color volume of the Florentine Codex. Now, since 2012, it is available digitally and fully accessible to those interested in Mexican and Aztec History.
The Florentine Codex is a 16th-century ethnographic research study brought about by the Spanish Franciscan friar Bernardino de Sahagun. The codex itself was actually named La Historia Universal de las Cosas de Nueva España. Bernardino de Sahagun worked on this project from 1545 up until his death in 1590. The Florentine Codex consist of twelve books. It is 2400 pages long but divided into the twelve books by categories such as; The Gods, Ceremonies, Omens, and other cultural aspects of Aztec people.
Romans used wax-coated wooden tablets or pugillares upon which they could write and erase by using a stylus. One end of the stylus was pointed, and the other was spherical. Usually these tablets were used for everyday purposes (accounting, notes) and for teaching writing to children, according to the methods discussed by Quintilian in his Institutio Oratoria X Chapter 3. Several of these tablets could be assembled in a form similar to a codex. Also the etymology of the word codex (block of wood) suggest that it may have developed from wooden wax tablets.
Parchment progressively replaced papyrus. Legend attributes its invention to Eumenes II, the king of Pergamon, from which comes the name "pergamineum," which became "parchment." Its production began around the 3rd century BC. Made using the skins of animals (sheep, cattle, donkey, antelope, etc.), parchment proved to be easier to conserve over time; it was more solid, and allowed one to erase text. It was a very expensive medium because of the rarity of material and the time required to produce a document. Vellum is the finest quality of parchment.
Greece and Rome
The scroll of papyrus is called "volumen" in Latin, a word which signifies "circular movement," "roll," "spiral," "whirlpool," "revolution" (similar, perhaps, to the modern English interpretation of "swirl") and finally "a roll of writing paper, a rolled manuscript, or a book." In the 7th century Isidore of Seville explains the relation between codex, book and scroll in his Etymologiae (VI.13) as this:
|“||A codex is composed of many books (librorum); a book is of one scroll (voluminis). It is called codex by way of metaphor from the trunks (caudex) of trees or vines, as if it were a wooden stock, because it contains in itself a multitude of books, as it were of branches.||”|
The scroll is rolled around two vertical wooden axes. This design allows only sequential usage; one is obliged to read the text in the order in which it is written, and it is impossible to place a marker in order to directly access a precise point in the text. It is comparable to modern video cassettes. Moreover, the reader must use both hands to hold on to the vertical wooden rolls and therefore cannot read and write at the same time. The only volumen in common usage today is the Jewish Torah.
The authors of Antiquity had no rights concerning their published works; there were neither authors' nor publishing rights. Anyone could have a text recopied, and even alter its contents. Scribes earned money and authors earned mostly glory, unless a patron provided cash; a book made its author famous. This followed the traditional conception of the culture: an author stuck to several models, which he imitated and attempted to improve. The status of the author was not regarded as absolutely personal.
From a political and religious point of view, books were censored very early: the works of Protagoras were burned because he was a proponent of agnosticism and argued that one could not know whether or not the gods existed. Generally, cultural conflicts led to important periods of book destruction: in 303, the emperor Diocletian ordered the burning of Christian texts. Some Christians later burned libraries, and especially heretical or non-canonical Christian texts. These practices are found throughout human history but have ended in many nations today. A few nations today still greatly censor and even burn books.
But there also exists a less visible but nonetheless effective form of censorship when books are reserved for the elite; the book was not originally a medium for expressive liberty. It may serve to confirm the values of a political system, as during the reign of the emperor Augustus, who skillfully surrounded himself with great authors. This is a good ancient example of the control of the media by a political power. However, private and public censorship have continued into the modern era, albeit in various forms.
Proliferation and conservation of books in Greece
Little information concerning books in Ancient Greece survives. Several vases (6th and 5th centuries BC) bear images of volumina. There was undoubtedly no extensive trade in books, but there existed several sites devoted to the sale of books.
The spread of books, and attention to their cataloging and conservation, as well as literary criticism developed during the Hellenistic period with the creation of large libraries in response to the desire for knowledge exemplified by Aristotle. These libraries were undoubtedly also built as demonstrations of political prestige:
- The Library of Alexandria, a library created by Ptolemy Soter and set up by Demetrius Phalereus (Demetrius of Phaleron). It contained 500,900 volumes (in the Museion section) and 40,000 at the Serapis temple (Serapeion). All books in the luggage of visitors to Egypt were inspected, and could be held for copying. The Museion was partially destroyed in 47 BC.
- The Library at Pergamon, founded by Attalus I; it contained 200,000 volumes which were moved to the Serapeion by Mark Antony and Cleopatra, after the destruction of the Museion. The Serapeion was partially destroyed in 391, and the last books disappeared in 641 CE following the Arab conquest.
- The Library at Athens, the Ptolemaion, which gained importance following the destruction of the Library at Alexandria ; the Library of Pantainos, around 100 CE; the library of Hadrian, in 132 CE.
- The Library at Rhodes, a library that rivaled the Library of Alexandria.
- The Library at Antioch, a public library of which Euphorion of Chalcis was the director near the end of the 3rd century.
The libraries had copyist workshops, and the general organisation of books allowed for the following:
Book production in Rome
Book production developed in Rome in the 1st century BC with Latin literature that had been influenced by the Greek. Conservative estimates places the number of potential readers in Imperial Rome at around 100,000 people.
This diffusion primarily concerned circles of literary individuals. Atticus was the editor of his friend Cicero. However, the book business progressively extended itself through the Roman Empire; for example, there were bookstores in Lyon. The spread of the book was aided by the extension of the Empire, which implied the imposition of the Latin tongue on a great number of people (in Spain, Africa, etc.).
In the year 377, there were 28 libraries in Rome, and it is known that there were many smaller libraries in other cities. Despite the great distribution of books, scientists do not have a complete picture as to the literary scene in antiquity as thousands of books have been lost through time.
Papermaking has traditionally been traced to China about AD 105, when Cai Lun, an official attached to the Imperial court during the Han Dynasty (202 BC – 220 AD), created a sheet of paper using mulberry and other bast fibres along with fishnets, old rags, and hemp waste.
While paper used for wrapping and padding was used in China since the 2nd century BC, paper used as a writing medium only became widespread by the 3rd century. By the 6th century in China, sheets of paper were beginning to be used for toilet paper as well. During the Tang Dynasty (618–907 AD) paper was folded and sewn into square bags to preserve the flavor of tea. The Song Dynasty (960–1279) that followed was the first government to issue paper currency.
An important development was the mechanization of paper manufacture by medieval papermakers. The introduction of water-powered paper mills, the first certain evidence of which dates to the 11th century in Córdoba, Spain, allowed for a massive expansion of production and replaced the laborious handcraft characteristic of both Chinese and Muslim papermaking. Papermaking centres began to multiply in the late 13th century in Italy, reducing the price of paper to one sixth of parchment and then falling further.
By the end of antiquity, between the 2nd and 4th centuries, the scroll was replaced by the codex. The book was no longer a continuous roll, but a collection of sheets attached at the back. It became possible to access a precise point in the text quickly. The codex is equally easy to rest on a table, which permits the reader to take notes while he or she is reading. The codex form improved with the separation of words, capital letters, and punctuation, which permitted silent reading. Tables of contents and indices facilitated direct access to information. This form was so effective that it is still the standard book form, over 1500 years after its appearance.
Paper would progressively replace parchment. Cheaper to produce, it allowed a greater diffusion of books.
Books in monasteries
A number of Christian books were destroyed at the order of Diocletian in 304 AD. During the turbulent periods of the invasions, it was the monasteries that conserved religious texts and certain works of Antiquity for the West. But there would also be important copying centers in Byzantium.
The role of monasteries in the conservation of books is not without some ambiguity:
- Reading was an important activity in the lives of monks, which can be divided into prayer, intellectual work, and manual labor (in the Benedictine order, for example). It was therefore necessary to make copies of certain works. Accordingly, there existed scriptoria (the plural of scriptorium) in many monasteries, where monks copied and decorated manuscripts that had been preserved.
- However, the conservation of books was not exclusively in order to preserve ancient culture; it was especially relevant to understanding religious texts with the aid of ancient knowledge. Some works were never recopied, having been judged too dangerous for the monks. Moreover, in need of blank media, the monks scraped off manuscripts, thereby destroying ancient works. The transmission of knowledge was centered primarily on sacred texts.
Copying and conserving books
Despite this ambiguity, monasteries in the West and the Eastern Empire permitted the conservation of a certain number of secular texts, and several libraries were created: for example, Cassiodorus ('Vivarum' in Calabria, around 550), or Constantine I in Constantinople. There were several libraries, but the survival of books often depended on political battles and ideologies, which sometimes entailed massive destruction of books or difficulties in production (for example, the distribution of books during the Iconoclasm between 730 and 842). A long list of very old and surviving libraries that now form part of the Vatican Archives can be found in the Catholic Encyclopedia.
A very strong example of the early copying and conserving books is that of the Quran. After Muhammad, his companion Abu Bakr, on the recommendation of Umar Bin Alkhattab, assigned Zayd bin Saabit to compile the first official scripture of the Quran. Zayd collected all the available scriptures of the Quran scripted by different companions of Muhammad during his life. He compiled one scripture and got it verified by all the companions who had memorized the whole book while Muhammad was alive. Then this first official scripture was kept at the house of Hafsa, the wife of the Muhammad. By the time of the third caliph Uthmaan, the Islamic state had spread over a large portion of the known world. He ordered the preparation of the official copies of the first official scripture. The copies were duly verified for accuracy. These copies were sent to each city of the caliphate so that further copies can be made locally with the perfect accuracy.
To help preserve books and protect them from thieves, librarians would create chained libraries, which consisted of books attached to cabinets or desks with metal chains. This eliminated unauthorised removal of books. One of the earliest chained libraries was in England during the 1500s. Popular culture also has examples of chained libraries, such as in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J.K Rowling.
The scriptorium was the workroom of monk copyists; here, books were copied, decorated, rebound, and conserved. The armarius directed the work and played the role of librarian.
The role of the copyist was multifaceted: for example, thanks to their work, texts circulated from one monastery to another. Copies also allowed monks to learn texts and to perfect their religious education. The relationship with the book thus defined itself according to an intellectual relationship with God. But if these copies were sometimes made for the monks themselves, there were also copies made on demand.
The task of copying itself had several phases: the preparation of the manuscript in the form of notebooks once the work was complete, the presentation of pages, the copying itself, revision, correction of errors, decoration, and binding. The book therefore required a variety of competencies, which often made a manuscript a collective effort.
Transformation from the literary edition in the 12th century
The revival of cities in Europe would change the conditions of book production and extend its influence, and the monastic period of the book would come to an end. This revival accompanied the intellectual renaissance of the period. The Manuscript culture outside of the monastery developed in these university-cities in Europe in this time. It is around the first universities that new structures of production developed: reference manuscripts were used by students and professors for teaching theology and liberal arts. The development of commerce and of the bourgeoisie brought with it a demand for specialized and general texts (law, history, novels, etc.). It is in this period that writing in the common vernacular developed (courtly poetry, novels, etc.). Commercial scriptoria became common, and the profession of book seller came into being, sometimes dealing internationally.
The use of paper diffused through Europe in the 14th century. This material, less expensive than parchment, came from China via the Arabs in Spain in the 11th and 12th centuries. It was used in particular for ordinary copies, while parchment was used for luxury editions.
The invention of the moveable type on the printing press by Johann Fust, Peter Schoffer and Johannes Gutenberg around 1440 marks the entry of the book into the industrial age. The Western book was no longer a single object, written or reproduced by request. The publication of a book became an enterprise, requiring capital for its realization and a market for its distribution. The cost of each individual book (in a large edition) was lowered enormously, which in turn increased the distribution of books. The book in codex form and printed on paper, as we know it today, dates from the 15th century. Books printed before January 1, 1501, are called incunables. The spreading of book printing all over Europe occurred relatively quickly, but most books were still printed in Latin. The spreading of the concept of printing books in the vernacular was a somewhat slower process.
List of notable printing milestones
- 1377: Jikji is known to be the first printed book using movable metal print technology by Koryo (Korea). Jikji is abbreviated title of a Korean Buddhist document, Selected Teachings of Buddhist Sages and Seon Masters.
- 1455: The Gutenberg Bible (in Latin) was the book printed in Europe with movable metal type by Johannes Gutenberg.
- 1461: Der Ackermann aus Böhmen printed by Albrecht Pfister, the first printed book in German, and also the first book illustrated with woodcuts.
- 1470: Il Canzoniere by Francesco Petrarca, the first book printed in the Italian language.
- 1472: Sinodal de Aguilafuente was the first book printed in Spain (at Segovia) and in the Spanish language.
- 1473: Chronica Hungarorum was the first book printed in Hungary. It was printed by Andreas Hess in Buda.
- 1474: Obres e trobes en llaor de la Verge Santa Maria was the first book printed in the Valencian language, at Valencia.
- c. 1475: Recuyell of the Historyes of Troye was the first book printed in the English language.
- 1476: La légende dorée printed by Guillaume LeRoy, the first book printed in the French language.
- 1476: Aristotle's De Animalibus, the first printed compilation of works on biology, (translated from the Greek) was printed in Venice, the basis of medical education for 1600 years prior: not to be confused with Albertus Magnus's version, translated from Arabic by Michael Scot.
- 1476: Grammatica Graeca, sive compendium octo orationis partium, probably the first book entirely in Greek, by Constantine Lascaris.
- 1477: The first printed edition of Geographia by Ptolemy, probably in 1477 in Bologna, was also the first printed book with engraved illustrations.
- 1477: The Delft Bible, the first book printed in the Dutch language.
- 1482: Euclid's Elements the first printed version (by Erhard Ratdolt), was the basis of mathematical education for 1600 years prior.
- 1483: Misal po zakonu rimskoga dvora, the first book printed in the Croatian language and in Glagolitic alphabet.
- 1485: De Re Aedificatoria, the first printed book on architecture
- 1487: "Pentateuco", the first book printed in Portugal, in Hebraic language, by the Jew Samuel Gacon in Vila-a-Dentro, Faro.
- 1494: Oktoih was the first printed Slavic Cyrillic book.
- 1495: The first printed book in the Danish language.
- 1495: The first printed book in the Swedish language.
- 1497: "Constituições que fez o Senhor Dom Diogo de Sousa, Bispo do Porto", first book printed in the Portuguese language, by the first Portuguese printer, Rodrigo Álvares, in Porto, on January the 4th.
- 1499: Catholicon, Breton-French-Latin dictionary, first printed trilingual dictionary, first Breton book, first French dictionary
- 1501: Harmonice Musices Odhecaton, printed by Ottaviano Petrucci, is the first book of sheet music printed from movable type.
- 1501: Aldus Manutius printed the first portable octavos, also inventing and using italic type; the series began with Virgil and Horace.
- 1508: Chepman and Myllar printed the first books in Scotland.
- 1511: Hieromonk Makarije printed the first books in Wallachia (in Slavonic)
- 1512: Hakob Meghapart printed the first book in Armenian – Urbatagirk.
- 1513: Hortulus Animae, polonice believed to be the first book printed in the Polish language.
- 1516: A reprint of the Lisbon edition of the Sefer Aburdraham is printed in Morocco, the first book printed in Africa.
- 1517: Psalter, first book printed in the Old Belarusian language by Francysk Skaryna on 6 August 1517
- 1539: La escala espiritual de San Juan Clímaco, first book printed in North America – Mexico
- 1541: Bovo-Bukh was the first non-religious book to be printed in Yiddish
- 1544: Rucouskiria by Mikael Agricola, the first book printed in the Finnish language.
- 1545: Linguae Vasconum Primitiae was the first book printed in Basque
- 1547: Martynas Mažvydas compiled and published the first printed Lithuanian book The Simple Words of Catechism
- 1550: Catechismus by Primož Trubar was the first book written in the Slovene language.
- 1561: The first printed books in the Romanian language, Tetraevanghelul and Întrebare creştinească (also known as Catehismul) are printed by Coresi in Braşov.
- 1564: The first book in Irish was printed in Edinburgh, a translation of John Knox's 'Liturgy' by John Carswell, Bishop of the Hebrides.
- 1564: The first dated Russian book, Apostol, printed by Ivan Fyodorov
- 1567: Foirm na n-Urrnuidheadh, the Gaelic translation of the Book of Common Order by John Carswell, the first work to be printed in any Goidelic language
- 1571: The first book in Irish to be printed in Ireland was a Protestant catechism (Aibidil Gaoidheilge agus Caiticiosma), containing a guide to spelling and sounds in Irish.
- 1577: Lekah Tov, a commentary on the Book of Esther, was the first book printed in what is now Israel
- 1581: Ostrog Bible, first complete printed edition of the Bible in Old Church Slavonic
- 1584: first book printed in South America – Lima, Peru
- 1593: Doctrina Christiana was the first book printed in the Philippines
- 1629: Nikoloz Cholokashvili helped to publish a Georgian dictionary, the first printed book in Georgian
- 1640: The Bay Psalm Book, the first book printed in British North America
- 1651: Abagar – Filip Stanislavov, first printed book in modern Bulgarian
- 1678–1703: Hortus Malabaricus included the first instance of Malayalam types being used for printing
- 1798: The first printed book in Ossetic
- 1802: New South Wales General Standing Orders was the first book printed in Australia, comprising Government and General Orders issued between 1791 and 1802
- 1908-09: Aurora Australis, the first book published in Antarctica, by members of Ernest Shackleton's expedition.
During the Enlightenment more books began to pour off European presses, creating an early form of information overload for many readers. Nowhere was this more the case than in Enlightenment Scotland, where students were exposed to a wide variety of books during their education. The demands of the British and Foreign Bible Society (founded 1804), the American Bible Society (founded 1816), and other non-denominational publishers for enormously large inexpensive runs of texts led to numerous innovations. The introduction of steam printing presses a little before 1820, closely followed by new steam paper mills, constituted the two most major innovations. Together, they caused book prices to drop and the number of books to increase considerably. Numerous bibliographic features, like the positioning and formulation of titles and subtitles, were also affected by this new production method. New types of documents appeared later in the 19th century: photography, sound recording and film.
Among a series of developments that occurred in the 1990s, the spread of digital multimedia, which encodes texts, images, animations, and sounds in a unique and simple form was notable for the book publishing industry. Hypertext further improved access to information. Finally, the internet lowered production and distribution costs.
E-books and the future of the book
It is difficult to predict the future of the book in an era of fast-paced technological change. Anxieties about the "death of books" have been expressed throughout the history of the medium, perceived as threatened by competing media such as radio, television, and the Internet. However, these views are generally exaggerated, and "dominated by fetishism, fears about the end of humanism and ideas of techno-fundamentalist progress". The print book medium has proven to be very resilient and adaptable.
A good deal of reference material, designed for direct access instead of sequential reading, as for example encyclopedias, exists less and less in the form of books and increasingly on the web. Leisure reading materials are increasingly published in e-reader formats.
Although electronic books, or e-books, had limited success in the early years, and readers were resistant at the outset, the demand for books in this format has grown dramatically, primarily because of the popularity of e-reader devices and as the number of available titles in this format has increased. Since the Amazon Kindle was released in 2007, the e-book has become a digital phenomenon and many theorize that it will take over hardback and paper books in future. E-books are much more accessible and easier to buy and it's also cheaper to purchase an E-Book rather than its physical counterpart due to paper expenses being deducted. Another important factor in the increasing popularity of the e-reader is its continuous diversification. Many e-readers now support basic operating systems, which facilitate email and other simple functions. The iPad is the most obvious example of this trend, but even mobile phones can host e-reading software.
Reading for the blind
Braille is a system of reading and writing through the use of the finger tips. Braille was developed as a system of efficient communication for blind and partially blind alike. The system consists of sixty-three characters and is read left to right. These characters are made with small raised dots in two columns similar to a modern domino piece to represent each letter. Readers can identify characters with two fingers. Reading speed averages one hundred and twenty-five words per minute and can reach two hundred words per minute.
The making of Braille
Braille was named after its creator Louis Braille in 1824 in France. Braille stabbed himself in the eyes at the age of three with his father's leather working tools. Braille spent nine years working on a previous system of communication called night writing by Charles Barbier. Braille published his book "procedure for writing words, music, and plainsong in dots", in 1829. In 1854 France made Braille the "official communication system for blind individuals". Valentin Haüy was the first person to put Braille on paper in the form of a book. In 1932 Braille became accepted and used in English speaking countries. In 1965 the Nemeth Code of Braille Mathematics and Scientific Notation was created. The code was developed to assign symbols to advanced mathematical notations and operations. The system has remained the same, only minor adjustments have been made to it since its creation.
The spoken book was originally created in the 1930s to provide the blind and visually impaired with a medium to enjoy books. In 1932 the American Foundation for the Blind created the first recordings of spoken books on vinyl records. In 1935, a British-based foundation, Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB), was the first to deliver talking books to the blind on vinyl records. Each record contained about thirty minutes of audio on both sides, and the records were played on a gramophone. Spoken books changed mediums in the 1960s with the transition from vinyl records to cassette tapes. The next progression of spoken books came in the 1980s with the widespread use of compact discs. Compact discs reached more people and made it possible to listen to books in the car. In 1995 the term audiobook became the industry standard. Finally, the internet enabled audiobooks to become more accessible and portable. Audiobooks could now be played in their entirety instead of being split onto multiple disks.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to History of books.|
- Society for the History of Authorship, Reading and Publishing (SHARP)
- Program in the History of the Book in American Culture
- The Atlas of Early Printing
- Development of the Printed Page at the University of South Carolina Libraryies Digital Collections
- Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts, Center for Digital Initiatives, University of Vermont Libraries
- Adrian Johns, The History of the Book, University of Cambridge.
- BibSite – via Bibliographical Society of America.
(Assorted articles on book history, mostly UK and US)