Early Book Making


A book to us in today’s day in age is fairly simple. Components of a book consist of a book cover, a spine and some pages, right?Image

There actually is a lengthy history to the creation of books. It all began with people wanting to find a way to record laws or cultural stories to keep history alive. Every continent seemed to have discovered a different way to record just that. For example, in Asia, silk or palm leaves were used; in Ancient Europe, wooden tablets covered in wax. There are many more forms of how different nations discovered paper. Read the blog entry The Development of Paper to learn more about the different types of paper.

Evolving Concepts of Book Binding

The concept of a book as we know it today has evolved from tried and tested ways to put together information, whether it be a story or strictly a compilation of laws and other records. As mentioned before, each continent had its own unique way of binding their writings together to form a book, and a few recognized a similar way. For example, Europe, Africa and Asia used goat and sheep skin to make a paper called parchment (most of us would have this in our households today). It would take 12 sheep to make a book. The book would be about 150 pages long. Others would use wooden tablets or clay tablets and bind them together to form a book. The time period that we are talking about here is approximately the 4th century to the 12th century.

Types of Early Books

There was no such thing as a Kindle where all you do is press a button to retrieve the next page of your book. It wasn’t even as simple as flipping the feather weighted page. The types of books produced in Ancient and Middle ages were the following:

Type Description
Tablet Clay: a flattened clay tablet was used to write on by making an impression in the clayWax: Wax was somewhat more useful due to the fact that wax could be re-used by melting. This would have been used to take notes and in schools.
Scroll Papyrus (a type of paper) would be glued together to form a scroll. A scroll ‘book’ would be opened vertically but read horizontally.
Codex This would be like a tablet. But many wooden ‘tablets’ would then be hinged together. Maybe this is where we get the modern term “Rolodex”(which is used in many business settings today).
Manuscripts Because papyrus was getting very expensive, manuscripts were being made on parchment paper. This was a very expensive and time consuming way to print a book.
Blockbooks This was when books were printed on blocks and then ink was spread on and paper was pressed on top of that.



So as you can see, book making has evolved in huge ways compared to the way we read books today. An interesting walk through of the making of a book is shown on this YouTube clip.


Resources Used:

John Rylands University Library . (n.d.). Retrieved May 2012, from First Impressions – Types of Early Printed Book: http://www.library.manchester.ac.uk/firstimpressions/From-Manuscript-to-Print/Early-Printed-Books/Types-of-early-printed-book/

Springville Museum of Art. (n.d.). Retrieved May 2012, from http://www.smofa.org/files/pages/ali7bba8.pdf.

Wikipedia. (2012). Retrieved May 2012, from Books: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Book

by Jessica Goshulak


2 thoughts on “Early Book Making

  1. Hi, Jessica.
    Your blog looks great.
    Especially I like your table, very easy to understand.
    Thanks for sharing !

  2. Hi Jessica, your blog looks really good! I like how you referenced another blog instead of repeating the information again. Really helpful!

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