Publish means to bring to the public attention; to announce. From Latin publicare, to make public," - according The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language.
Publishing is described in the Encyclopedia Britannica as "the activity that involves selection, preparation, and marketing of printed matter. It has grown from small and ancient beginnings into a vast and complex industry responsible for the dissemination of all kinds of cultural material, from the most elevated to the most trivial. Its impact upon civilization is impossible to calculate."
Books, in one form or another, have been around for 4,000 to 5,000 years. Papyrus rolls were used in Egypt as early as the year 3,000 B.C. The first modern form of the book was the Roman codex, in which sheets of papyrus were folded vertically to make leaves.
Before the invention of writing, information could only be exchanged by word of mouth, with all its limitations of time and space. Writing originally was confined to the recording of codes of law, genealogies, and religious formulations. Not until the monopoly of letters, usually held by a priestly caste, was broken could writing finally be used to disseminate information.
The Chinese are generally considered to have invented printing in the 6th Century A. D. in the form of wooden block printing. The 15th Century witnessed the two most important developments in the history of publishing: paper, which Chinese had invented in 105 A. D. and which the Arabs brought to Europe; and the invention to movable type, generally attributed to Jonhannes Gutenberg.
Book publishing, the senior member of the triumvirate, began in the United States in 1638, when the first printers, Stephen Daye and his two sons, went from Cambridge, England to Cambridge, Massachusetts. There they produced their first book, The Whole Booke of Psalmes, in 1640. It is known today as "The Bay Psalm Book" and is understandably rare.
Today, publishing assumed its characteristic blend of idealism and commerce. Also, Americans are not predominately book readers, and there is little public curiosity about the people who publish books. Individual authors become famous, but a few people can identify the publisher of the book they have just finished reading.