Friday, April 9, 2010

Friday Flashback

The Birth of the Book.

Around 540BC, monasteries were at the forefront of stressing the importance of copying texts. Clergy were the predominant readers of books.

At that time, almost all books were copied by hand. This was a slow process so not many copies were made. No artificial light was allowed for fear of damaging the manuscripts.

Each person working on a book had a specific job.

•Calligraphers did the book production
•Copyists handled basic production and correspondence
•Correctors compared a finished book with the original manuscript.
•Illuminators painted the illustrations

Pages from the first books were made of parchment or calf skin. The book covers were made of wood and covered with leather. Spaces between the words in these books did not become commonplace until well into the 12th century. Talk about one long run-on sentence.

These copies were so rare and valuable that any on display were usually chained to the desk or bookshelf they sat on.

Aren't a lot of places still doing that?

Oh, right. We chain our pens. That makes sense.


  1. When you look at the history of publishing, it does make you wonder if the paper book format is something we just hang onto out of tradition...

  2. I suppose that's the only time in history I could not have been a writer. I have terrible penmanship!

  3. Ugh... that would have been horrible having to copy all of those books. So not fun!

  4. It's absolutely amazing to see what lengths people went to to record stories. And here I thought typing a manuscript on a type writer would be a bitch.

    Love this post!

  5. That puts things in perspective. Thanks!


It helps to know I'm not just talking to myself.