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Gutenberg’s Apprentice

June 23, 2015

The first printed book was the Bible and the project was started by Johann Gutenberg in 1452.  I’ve occasionally seen pages and was suitably impressed.  I never thought more about it until I read a novel I plucked off the new book section of my local public library – Gutenberg’s Apprentice by Alix Christie.

Nothing just appears and neither did the first printed book.  It took inventing not only the printing press, but the paper to print it on, the ink, design of the fonts, the layout of the pages, casting of the type, the metal alloys for the type, the concept of moveable type, hiring, training, scheduling and coordinating workers with different skills, financing the project over a few years, decisions of management for something that had never been done previously, maintenance of secrecy to assure the method wasn’t stolen, distribution, marketing and selling of the Bibles, bribes to trade guilds and displacement of highly skilled scribes, political interference, the general economy, the length of time the project took and even war.  It was a major undertaking that most viewing a finished product usually don’t give a second thought to.

This was during a time when many of today’s management techniques and concept did not exist.  Many of these steps and processes are not dissimilar to what business’ do today.

The author has an obvious love of letterpress printing (she has set type and run presses) and used her feelings to craft a fine novel of what could have actually happened.  The interesting story also provides much insight to how people lived and worked at the precipice of the Middle Ages and dawn of the Renaissance.  I highly recommend this book.

I, too, have an interest in the art of letterpress printing and refer you to my blog posted on Sep 11, 2012.  Click here to read it:

One Comment leave one →
  1. Robert Nagler permalink
    June 23, 2015 2:54 pm


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