Good question. We all use books but I wonder how many people know how they are made. Pierre Kerr, firstname.lastname@example.org, gives this answer.
I found a great deal of information about BOOKS in the Compton's Encyclopedia on my computer. Your library has a lot of encyclopedias and I'm sure you can find more information in them. Here is some of what I found.
The earliest records were scratched on bark or leather or chiseled on stone, wood, or other durable materials. The Babylonians impressed characters on clay tablets and then baked them hard. The laws of Solon were carved on wooden tablets and set up on the Acropolis in Athens, Greece. The Twelve Tables of Roman law were engraved on wood.
Wax Tablets and Papyrus
For brief writings the Greeks and the Romans used small wax tablets. These were made of small boards with narrow raised frames at the edges. A thin coating of wax, commonly black, was laid over the sunken part of the wood. Letters were scratched with a stylus through the black wax so that the light-colored wood showed in the strokes. The tablets could be bound together with thongs or metal rings through holes in their edges. Such a group of tablets was called in Latin a codex.
Long documents and books were written by hand on sheets of papyrus. These were glued together by the side margins to form a roll 5 to 12 inches wide and 15 to 40 feet long, with writing on only one side. The Romans called such a roll volumen,from which the word "volume" is derived. Usually the papyrus was rolled around a brightly painted, gilded stick, or umbilicus, with knobs at both ends.
Book Manufacturing Today
Over the centuries, since the invention of movable type and the printing press, book manufacturing has become increasingly mechanized. Each invention that improved speed and economy whetted the public appetite for books and spurred additional advances. Today the making of a book is a complex process requiring the cooperative efforts of many people.
The process begins with the decision of a publisher to issue a book. After the manuscript of the book has been prepared, a book designer, in consultation with editors and printers, develops specifications for the book-its size and shape, the typefaces in which it is to be set, and the treatment of tables and illustrations. The printer and the binder then prepare a dummy, or mock-up, of the book, showing the paper to be used, the thickness and binding of the volume, and some specimen printed pages.
Typesetting and Printing
After a book manuscript is edited, the next step is to set it in type. Most books are typeset using phototypesetting machines.
Once the book's text has been typeset, it must be proofread for errors. Most of the modern typesetting machines permit easy editing and corrections of the text on video-display screens. Some machines can display the text in precisely the form in which it will appear on the final printed page.
After the text has been corrected, the type and any illustrations are arranged in page format. These pages are photographed to make the printing plates.
Although the pages follow one another in numerical order in a completed book, they are not printed that way. Each printing plate contains a number of pages, so positioned that they will fall in proper order when the unit of pages, or signature, is folded. Signatures may contain any multiple of four pages; common signature sizes are 16, 32, or 64 pages. Most presses print both sides of the paper at once and deliver folded signatures, ready for the bindery.
Elements of Modern Bookbinding
Essentially, the steps in edition binding-or case binding, as the mechanized process is called-are the same as those in hand binding. The signatures of the book are put in proper order, fastened together, and enclosed in a protective cover. The essential parts of a typical book are shown in this illustration. In assembling the book, those operations which take place before the signatures, or body of the book, are joined into a unit are called sheetwork; those which take place afterward are called forwarding.
Take a look at a book and see if you can identify all of the parts shown about.
Thanks for your questions.
uElizabeth Lucas, room 12, Mrs. Mastine
Becky Leggett, room 11, Mrs. Pottery