There are many claims for the World’s First Book – and what can actually be defined as a book. So I will be looking at the world’s first printed books.
Again, this throws up different arguments, as texts have been found with no certainty of when and how they were created.
There is a book in the British Library, ‘Diamond Sutra’ which is considered one of the earliest viable printed books, viable because it has a date, unlike others. It’s a Buddhist text, containing teachings. It was produced using the woodblock method, which requires carving every word of every page into wood, then printing it. Towards the end, it says “Reverently made for universal free distribution by Wang Jie on behalf of his two parents on the 15th of the 4th moon of the 9th year of Xiantong (11th of May 868).”
However, the Gutenberg Bible is considered by many to be the world’s first printed book. It was the first book printed with the movable printing press, kick starting a printing revolution. Johannes Guttenberg invented the moveable printing press, using oil based ink and experimented with different processes. In 1455 he printed his Guttenberg bible. This style of printing ushered in the period of modernity. We can thank Johannes Guttenberg when reading books today as his ideas form the basis of modern day printing presses. With a little help from computers and digital technology of course . Denny Bradbury’s new book Borvo, available in June, will be printed using Guttenberg’s foundation ideas.
It’s thought 180 copies of the Guttenberg bible were printed, 45 of them on Vellum and the rest on paper. 47 of these are thought to still exist, but only 21 of them are complete. The rest have pages or whole volumes missing. The British Library holds 2 complete copies, one in paper and one in Vellum. The price of a completed copy today is estimated to be in the region of £25 million pounds.
Learn about the history of poetry here.