Early printing and publishing revolutionized the world. In the 50 years since its invention, the number of books increased million fold.
PRINTING – a revolution in the making
Traditionally hand written, the production of books was catalysed by the invention of printing (specifically the movable type). The increase in circulation of books, indicate its impact, the rapidity in how books (and their consumption) spread, and the need for an artificial script.
ALL HAIL, THE PRINTER!
Publishing, as it is today, is a value chain of multiple entities. During the initial phase, printers were themselves the type founder, editor, publisher, and bookseller. Paper making and book binding were, probably, the only things that were outside the printer’s province. This, and maybe illustrators that made engravings.
FAR REACHING CONSEQUENCES
The influence of publishing on early European countries was considerable. Germany, France and Italy, as an example, benefited tremendously – Venice, at one point, had over 150 presses! This, if anything else, is an indicator of the growing importance that it garnered.
While most printers continued to focus on existing book formats, one considerable outcome was the use of illustrations as a means of expression. Woodcuts, engraved blocks, helped printers replicate artwork exactly. This later evolved to using copper engravings, which helped printers replicated finer works of arts.
The reproduction of great works of art helped dawn a new era for science. Illustrations of experiments, maps and cartographic works, scientific concepts and anatomy greatly expanded these disciplines. At the helm of the golden age of European literature and art, printers formed the beginnings of a new trade.
Book publishing had truly arrived.