The development of paper and books as we know them: A few resources

With children spending more time on computers and young adults reading e-books, they may be a little clueless as to the origin of the format called books. As one website put it, “Students might need a refresher on the heritage of their increasingly ubiquitous Kindles.” Teachers and parents, and even librarians, might be interested in this diagram (see below) which describes the development of the book.

For information specific to the development of books and printing in Islamic culture please refer to the following resources online and in print:

  • The Book in the Islamic world: The written word and communication in the Middle East, by George, N. Atiyeh (State University of New York Press), 1995. This book is a collection of several essays and articles, the most relevant to the development of books in the Islamic world being the first chapter, “From the Manuscript Age to the Age of Printed books” by Muhsin Mahdi. The entire text of this book is available for free here.
  • Revolution by the Ream – A History of Paper” by Jonathan M. Bloom is a comprehensive article in Saudi Aramco World describing the development of the use of  paper and books with details from Islamic history.
  • Paper Before Print: The History and Impact of Paper in the Islamic world (Yale University Press, 2001) is a book by Jonathan Bloom that chronicles the Islamic world’s relationship with paper.

The Evolution of the Book


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