Before the invention of the Gutenberg printing press in Mainz, Germany, around 1440 AD, recognizable systems of writing had developed in three major ancient cultures: around 3000 BC Mesopotamian cuneiform featured in Sumerian, Akkadian and Elamite civilizations; Egyptian hieroglyphs began around 2800 BC and the precursor to Kanji Chinese emerged around 1800 BC.
Codices largely replaced scrolls similar to this. (CC0)
The first books were scrolls made from the Egyptian papyrus plant and these evolved into manuscripts in ancient Greece. Romans later developed the codex from wood and animal skins which levered open similar to the books known today and it featured real pages. Early Chinese and Korean cultures arranged molded letters that were inked and reused, and all over the world unique record keeping methods were developed, but because the materials used to make ancient texts, codices, scrolls and manuscripts were organic, most have degraded back to nature. Since old books are few and far between some of the rarest editions of the most ancient books that have survived, reach astronomical prices at auctions, and these are some of the most expensive, paradigm changing books ever sold.