Paper is no longer the only thing you can write on. You can also write on a computer. That makes whatever you write easy to copy, search, send and print, but it also requires having a computer. Paper is still cheaper and easier to use than a computer: you can fold it up and put in your pocket. No batteries required.
For example, right now I am writing this on paper. I have my computer with me, but I am on a packed bus and do not have enough room to use it. My little black notebook, where two-thirds of these postings get their start, does not have that drawback.
Paper has not always been made from wood.
Paper was first made out of papyrus – that is where the name comes from. Papyrus was a plant which grew along the Nile. You could make paper out of it that was easy to write and draw on. The paper was also much thicker and stronger and lasted longer than ours. It was even washable. It was the sort of paper you needed to make a scroll.
But papyrus is not good for making a codex: a book like the ones we are used to where all the pages are bound together at one end. A codex is much better than a scroll, so no one uses papyrus any more.
Parchment took the place of papyrus. It is made from animal skins, like from sheep. It is named after the city of Pergamon where it was first made. Pergamon used to have the second best library in the world. The best library in the world at the time, the Library of Alexandria, was afraid Pergamon would become the best, so they stopped papyrus from leaving Egypt. This forced Pergamon to come up with a new sort of paper: parchment.
Parchment is much thinner than papyrus so books could be smaller. But it was not cheap stuff: to make a large church Bible, for example, took 200 sheep skins!
In the 100s the Chinese found out how to make paper from wood. This is the sort of paper that we know. It did not reach the West till the 1200s. It came through Spain from the Muslim world, not as a general writing material – few knew how to write – but as something for making Korans.
With computers a new sort of paper is possible: electronic paper. Like other kinds of paper it can hold a mark and be taken anywhere – it does not need to be powered like a computer. Yet a computer can write and rewrite on it. A book made of this paper could become any book you like. You could even make this blog into a book.