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Paging through history

Hi, welcome to Bookey. Today we will unlock the book ‘Paper: Paging Through History’.

We probably won’t feel anything special when we mention the word “paper". I mean, take a look around you. Paper products are everywhere: the books and magazines we read, the tissue we use every day, paper cups, packaging of cigarettes, alcohols, snacks, and so on. Paper is very ordinary. However, can you imagine what our life would be like without paper? Even though we are now reducing our use of paper to protect the environment, no technology, no matter how advanced, can replace the feeling we have towards this object.

We all know paper is not a natural product. Human beings went through a long history of exploration before it was invented. We tried writing with rocks, fur, bones, tapa, baked clay tablets, wax tablets. Afterwards, we then had papyrus, parchment, bamboo, silk, and so on. Back then, people worked hard to improve writing materials. How exactly did people record information back in paperless times? How was ancient Egyptians’ papyrus different from Cai Lun’s paper?How did this complex paper-making technology of China travel around the world, despite all the geographical difficulties? How did Bi Sheng’s movable type printing influence the transmission of information? Why would we say that the revolution of technology would not eliminate paper, but would rather make paper play a more important role? Today, we can find answers to all of these questions through our reading of ‘Paper: Paging Through History’ .

The author of this book, Mark Kurlansky, is a well-known American best-selling author, now living in New York. He used to be the foreign correspondent for major newspapers such as the International Herald Tribune and Chicago Tribune. Besides the book we are going to talk about today, he has written several other works, like ‘Salt’, ‘Cod’, and ‘The Basque History of the World’. ‘Cod’ won him the James A. Beard Award for his excellent culinary writing. His perspective is one of a kind; he would often start with a certain object, and then tell the complex history behind it. Thus, he does not simply focus on paper in this book; he is showing us a grand cultural map that contains one thousand years of history and knowledge of different fields.

We will separate this Bookey into three parts:

Part one, why did people invent paper?

Part two, papermaking and printing technologies give new life to paper.

Part three, the impact of paper on historical events.

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