Current & Future Trends in Electronic Publishing, and its consequences, challenges and benefits.
Poets Printery, South Africa
The enemy of authors isn't piracy - it's obscurity.
UNESCO's somewhat arbitrary definition of "book" is:
"Non-periodical printed publication of at least 49 pages excluding covers".
Whilst the credit for the written form, is usually given to Ancient Mesopotamia, this is based on archaeological findings to date. It is highly unlikely that this relatively advanced form suddenly emerged but rather evolved over a long evolutionary period.
Cultures that committed their writing to stone had the advantage of durability and long life, enabling us today to see examples of early texts and insights into the writers’ period in time. Some cultures were known to use less durable media. Early Celtic tribes were believed to carve their scripts into trees, rather limiting the life of the texts.
The earliest surviving printed book currently confirmed, is dated 868 AD entitled “The Diamond Sutra” and was found in a walled-up cave in Dunhuang, north-west China, in 1907.
The scribes of long ago would have been elite within the working classes as the masses would have been unable to experience the written word. Drawings were often used to bridge the inevitable gap where it was considered prudent to educate people in the rules of civil, religious or moral behavior. Even today, the ability to read and write ensures us a privileged place in the world society yet all too often we are guilty of taking it for granted.