Publishing in Antiquity
The first books appeared in Mesopotamia sometime before the 6th century BC. The form of these books, as the ancient Sumerians, Babylonians, Assyrians, and Hittites wrote them, was that of tablets made from water-cleaned clay. These were related to cuneiform writing (the name of this script comes from the wedge-shaped marks made by the stylus in clay).
In the 6th century BCE the Aramaic language became more popular, and this type of publishing tech became obsolete, giving rise to the use of the papyrus.
The papyrus roll was widely used in ancient Egypt. Papyrus, which was made from the papyrus plant that can be found in the Nile Valley, was the predecessor of the modern book; in a way, more than the clay tablet.
In China, books were also produced on a large scale, though this came about after the Sumerians and the Egyptians. Although few surviving examples are before the Christian Era, there is a lot of evidence (both direct and indirect) suggesting that the Chinese had writing (and probably books) at least as early as 1300 BC. Those primitive books were made of wood or bamboo strips bound together with cords.
In Greece, books has a more practical character. The ancient Greeks adopted the papyrus roll and later on the Romans took it from them. Although both of these two civilizations used other writing materials too (waxed wooden tablets, for example), the Greek and Roman words for "book" identify with the model of the Egyptians. The oldest Greek rolls can be dated from the 4th century BC.
Rome was the channel through which the Greek book was introduced to the people of Western Europe. After the conquest of Greece by the Romans, the Romans took possession of the Greek libraries in order to build upon them similar ones in Rome. The latter had separate collections of Greek and Latin books. However, except for the change of the language, a Roman book closely resembled a Greek one in content, and imitated it extensively.
Moreover, the Romans developed a book trade on a fairly large-scale. From the 1st century BC there is evidence of large scriptoria turning out copies of books for sale. The well-known writer of that era, Cicero, even referred to bookshops while two centuries later, the poet Martial complained about professional copyists who became careless in their speed. The laws regarding trade, made by the emperor Diocletian, effectively set regulations for determining a price for books copying.