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Books and Literature
Libraries and Library History

How did books evolve?


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October 31, 2014 1:19PM

In very ancient times people kept track of their live-stock using pebbles.(Easier to count then the actual duck or sheep or cattle themselves.) It was easier to keep such pebbles in a bag or a cup for later reference. It has been suggested that one day an unfired clay cup was being used and the person using it found that the pebbles stuck (rather conveniently) to the sides, making sorting easier. From there the cup became a flat slab of clay (easier to get your hands around) and the impression that the pebbles made in the wet clay made a permanent record of the transaction of the day.

The pebbles became obsolete as it was found that a stylus could be used to make the impressions just as easily. The first books therefore were ledgers.

As hieroglyphics were invented to keep track of the different types of inventory and of the people associated with transactions, stories became possible to record.

The Egyptians replace clay with papyrus (much easier to carry around) and of course could be rolled-up. These were the first scrolls. A scroll however has to be rolled out beginning to end and people found that a pile of short scrolls were easier to reference than a single large, long one, so they actually began cutting scrolls up into shorter lengths (shudder) and affixing all pieces to only one post. This was the earliest 'spine' of books.

From here I'm sure how you can see further incremental improvements were made.

All these stages (except the wet clay cup) have been recorded as being in use as the more advanced portions of the world observed the more primitive portions. There are still today 'rancher' who keep track of their livestock using pebbles.