We've come a long way since books were chiseled onto stone tablets. It's no wonder that early correspondence was generally brief. It's evident that our ancestors had the same need to communicate as we do today, except now it's a tad easier and faster.
Parchment made book-making quite a bit easier, but before the printing press it sure got tedious if you wanted to produce anything in quantity. I'd be curious how many books you had to reproduce by hand to make a bestseller.
Paper was eventually invented by the Chinese who taught book binding and book making to the Arabs in the 8th century. In the 12th century Marrakech in Morocco had one street alone with over 100 book sellers. Kind of a book fair, it seems. These selfsame Arabs brought the new technology into Europe where it evidently helped play a role in the Protestant Reformation in conjunction with the invention of movable type.
At a writer's conference that I attended in 1995 I learned that 50,000 books were being printed a year. The instructor of that class was attempting to impart a little realism to temper our expectations of becoming a published author. This did not include the countless volumes of manuscripts in various stages of development in desk drawers and waste baskets across the land.
Today, easy access to print-on-demand and digital publishing have resulted in one million volumes being created this past year. The Kindle, B&N Nook and other digital devices have enabled breezy access to publication.
Who knows where it will all lead. I can picture a land someday where everyone is writing books but no one is reading them because they are too busy writing their own. Or are we already there? It's called blogging. Hmmm.
Thought for the day: your life itself is a living book, read by all. Make it a worthwhile read.