Back in the ancient times, when there were no paper books, traditional forms of books like clay tablets, scrolls and papyrus sheets were used to write, draw and paint. Clay tablets were used in the early Mesopotamia in the 3rd millennium BC.
The clay was still moist when a triangular object called “calamus” was used to draw and write on it. These tablets were later treated to fire to dry them quickly. Tablets were still used until the 19th century in certain parts of the Saharan desert area.
In ancient Egypt, papyrus sheets were used for writing sacred texts. The marrow was extracted from the stem and roots of the papyrus tree, and it was later humidified, pressed, dried, glued and cut in order to prepare the final version of the sheet that was later used for writing and drawing. With the advent of time, several scrolls of papyrus sheets were pasted together to create ancient books. The length of these books was almost 10 meters or more which is astonishing.
The Chinese invented the paper in the 1st century AD and started using it extensively for writing and publishing. They were the first to discover the process of using the bark of blackberry bush to create paper; however printing of books was being done on a large scale even before that. It is believed that the first books ever printed were during the reign of Tang Dynasty.
The Romans on the other hand used wax tablets to write using a stylus that was pointed at one end and rounded on the other end. The use of tablets and stylus is well documented in ancient Roman books and texts.
After papyrus, people started using parchments which was invented in the 3rd century BC. These parchments were mostly made out of animal skins and were easy to store over longer periods of time.