Oral Traditions.

With printed materials more widely available, people placed new value on reading. With growing literacy rates, the tradition of listening to stories being told or read by others was displaced by reading as a silent and solitary act.

Languages. Printing fostered a standardization of spelling and syntax in local languages that coalesced into national languages. One upshot was the modern nation-state in which citizens gradually replaced the local variations with a national language. The dominance of Latin as the only pan-European language began slipping.

Authorship. The role of authors gained recognition. Previously, the names of authors often were lost as works were reproduced one copy at a time by scribes, often with idiosyncratic changes compounding one another with every new copy. These pre-Gutenberg transcriptions seldom cited the original authors, which made for confusion about authorship that still confounds scholars.

Commercialization. Printed works became profitable, with some authors attracting what today would be called market brand recognition. For the first time, authorship was profitable, publishing too. Copyright laws were created to protect the financial interests of the author or publisher by discouraging wanton


Pagination. With printing, page numbering became practical and useful. This was in contrast to hand-scribed works in which page breaks were a function of penmanship. Results included the first indexing and tables of content, both essential in optimizing the usefulness of printed material.

Religion. Most written works in Europe before Gutenberg had been produced under church auspices to perpetuate religious beliefs. With secularization and commercialization of the printed word, the church leaders found they had to share their historic dominance in shaping Western civilization and values.

The Chinese Language Problem The first print culture, far preceding Gutenberg, was in Asia. Sometime before the year 600, the Chinese were using woodblocks, carved in reverse, to apply images with ink. The process is called negative relief printing. The Chinese also invented paper, which was an ideal medium.

With woodblock printing the Chinese produced hundreds of books on subjects as diverse as science, math, and philosophy. It was printing that added to the influence of Confucius, whose teachings date to 500 years B.C.

But the Chinese printing technology was stalled. The Chinese written language comprised more than 5,000 basic characters. Literacy requires knowledge of 3,000 to 4,000 characters. In contrast, Latin and derivative languages like Gutenberg’s German had an alphabet of only 26 characters. For the Chinese, their language had too many components for movable type to be a practical possibility.

2.2.3 Industrial Revolution Effects 1. Objective: Summarize the development of print media after Gutenberg

The quality of Gutenberg’s Bibles was incredible given the elements available during that time. Consider the paper used; Gutenberg printed some of his Bibles on vellum, a treated animal skin. And ink? From charcoal residue and linseed oil, he stirred his own concoction. Gutenberg’s ink still amazes museum curators for its blackness, even all these centuries later.

Pulp Paper Although taken for granted today, paper and ink were scarce for centuries. When the Industrial Revolution approached its stride in the early 1800s, machines took over production of all kinds of products, including paper. Machine-made paper was introduced in 1803 manufactured from cotton and linen rags. The transition to wood pulp as the main ingredient of paper occurred in 1840 with incredible cost efficiencies. Pulp-based paper helped fuel unprecedented production of printed materials. The term pulp fiction took hold for low-cost books for mass audiences. The development of a petroleum industry made for cheaper inks, which coincided with new factory-produced pulp paper, and steam-powered printing presses led to the mass production of newspapers in the early-to-mid-1800s. These newspapers were often called penny press newspapers because they were cheap and plentiful.

High-Speed Presses Products of the Industrial Revolution included presses that, like all the early machinery of the era, were powered by steam, rather than handcrafted. The greatest innovation was the rotary press, which was perfected by Richard Hoe, whose name remains synonymous with high-speed printing production. In 1876 the Hoe rotary press could produce 30,000 impressions an hour. In contrast, four centuries earlier with Gutenberg-style presses, printers could turn out 500 copies at most on a good day. Today, presses can print 160,000 copies an hour.

Paper Reels Production was further accelerated when technology made it possible to manufacture paper in rolls. Paper could be pulled through the press continually and then cut and folded—all in a single operation in presses that were becoming more sophisticated all the time. For the first four centuries following the invention of Gutenberg’s press, paper was fed into the machine one sheet at a time. It was a momentous event in the history of mass media technology when the Philadelphia Inquirer installed the first automatic reel-fed rotary press in 1865.

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