Hey everyone, this is artybaker. I’ve had a lot of trouble coming up with a post for this week (well, last week: I didn’t manage one last Monday) . But then I came up with this. It came to me because I’ve been reading LOADS this year so far and I’ve sort of realized how much I love books! So in this post I’m going to do a bit of an article on books past and present, and hopefully teach you a thing or two about them…
What is a book?
Here is the Oxford Dictionary definition for book: n. a written or printed work consisting of pages glued or sewn together along one side and bound in covers.
The History of Books
Writing with words was first recordedly invented about 5000 years ago, in around 3100 BC by the Sumerians, who lived in Sumer which is located in modern-day Southern Iraq. At first people recorded events and wrote tales on carved clay tablets. However, this can hardly be regarded as the first book, as there were no pages.
The Egyptians made papyrus roll from a plant native only to the Nile Valley. In 500 BC it began to override the clay method, although some people still used clay tablets for the next 500 years. Today’s form of paper was invented in China in about 105 AD and was first made with bark and hemp. This method spread to Japan around 610 AD, then to the Arab World. From there, it was introduced into Europe via Spain, but paper was not actually made in Europe until 1276 (in Italy) and not in England until 1495.
Today’s form of book – with turn-able pages and a protective cover – is called a codex (pl. codices) and was invented by the Romans evolving from wooden tablets. The first description of the codex book was written by Roman poet Martial in the 1st century; he described it’s convenient use. Within 200 years of it’s invention, the codex book was being used all over the world and the age of wooden and clay tablets was long gone. Some associate the popularity of this form of book with the Bible being printed in this way.
The codex book has to be one of the most successful inventions of all time, because it is still enormously popular 1900 years after it’s invention. Here are some facts about books:
- In 2010 it was estimated that there were almost 130 million books in the world.
- The average person reads around 5 books a year, but it is very hard to judge because lots of people read no books at all, and some read hundreds in one year.
- The average novel contains 80,000 – 120,000 words.
- The average novel contains around 600,000 letters.
- The best selling book of all time is the Bible, but excluding that, it is A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens.
- The longest book of all time is Artamene ou le Grande Cyrus by Georges and Madeline de Sculdery. It has approximately 2,100,000 words and 13,095 pages.
Here are some quotes about books:
- “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover” – George Elliot
- “A room without books is like a body without soul” – Cicero
- “Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.” – Groucho Marx
- “I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.” – Jorge Luis Borges
- “Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them” – Lemony Snicket
- “Books are a uniquely portable magic” – Stephen King
Our form of book has not changed for 1900 years. But the invention of the electronic book (commonly known as an eBook or e-book) in 1971 changed all that. Is this the start of the end of the codex book???
Thanks for reading! I should be back with a baking post next Monday.