The advent of the computer industry in recent years has essentially changed the traditional publishing industry completely! Using today’s technology, anyone can self-publish any quantity of books on any subject and have it produced and marketed quite economically!
Traditional printing & publishing evolved in a plethora of formats over the succeeding centuries. The introduction of steam printing presses a little before 1820, closely followed by new steam paper mills, constituted the two most major innovations. Together, they caused book prices to drop substantially and the number of books to increase considerably! Numerous bibliographic features, like the positioning and formulation of titles and subtitles, were also affected by this new production method. New types of ‘documents’ appeared later in the 19th century: photography … sound recordings … film. By the 1900s, book publishing had become highly commercialized. Companies such as McGraw-Hill®, Pocket Books® and Bantam Books® arrived on the scene, and book clubs such as the Book-of-the-Month Club™ were founded during this era. Books had caught on with the masses! Even faster & more efficient book printing machinery evolved by the middle of the 20th century. But conventional lithography & offset printing were the only accepted means of producing books … still a pricey investment for the average author who wanted to get published!
From Johannes Gutenberg’s vast improvements, modifications and inventions to the then existing printing presses (circa. 1440) … to today’s hi-speed Digital Printing Systems … truly … we’ve…
“Come a long way…Baby!”
Then computer based word processors and printers enabled people to print and put together their own documents. Subsequently, a series of developments occurred in the 1990s … the spread of digital multimedia (which encodes texts, images, animations and sounds in a unique and simple form) was revolutionary to the book publishing industry! Book printing became much, much more affordable with technology evolving into Print-On-Demand (POD) capabilities. Desktop publishing was born … and now common place in the 21st century!
Gutenberg was the first European to use movable type printing in and around 1435. Among his many contributions to printing are the invention of a process for mass-producing movable type, the use of oil-based ink and the use of a wooden printing press similar to the agricultural screw presses of the period. His truly epochal invention was the combination of these elements into a practical system which allowed the mass production of printed books and was economically viable for printers and readers alike. Gutenberg's method for making type is traditionally considered to have included a type metal alloy and a hand mold for casting type.
In Renaissance Europe, the arrival of mechanical movable type printing introduced the era of mass communication which permanently altered the structure of society. The relatively unrestricted circulation of information — including revolutionary ideas — transcended borders, captured the masses in the Reformation and threatened the power of political and religious authorities; the sharp increase in literacy broke the monopoly of the literate elite on education and learning and bolstered the emerging middle class.
Johannes Gutenberg, a German printer and publisher, introduced printing to Europe. His invention of mechanical movable type printing started the Printing Revolution and is widely regarded as the most important event of the modern period. It played a key role in the development of the Renaissance, Reformation, the Age of Enlightenment and the Scientific Revolution, and laid the material basis for the modern knowledge-based economy and the spread of learning to the masses.
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