& the Book
This page highlights writing about the printing press:
mass reproduction of text.
It covers -
The following page considers printed images (eg illustrations
and maps). There is a more extensive exploration in our
15 part profile of print,
the book and reading.
German humanist Sebastian Brant (1457-1521), author
of The Ship of Fools, commented during 1498 that
our time, thanks to the talent and industry of those
from the Rhine, books have emerged in lavish numbers.
A book that once would have belonged only to the rich
- nay, to a king - can now be seen under a modest roof
... There is nothing nowadays that our children ...
fail to know.
Eisenstein's magisterial two volume The Printing Press
As An Agent Of Change: Communications & Cultural Transformation
in Early-Modern Europe (Cambridge: Cambridge Uni Press
1979) and The Coming of the Book: The Impact of Printing
1450-1800 (London: NLB 1976) by Lucien Febvre &
Henri-Jean Martin are essential reading. They offer insights
into technologies, markets and consequences.
In comparison Marshall McLuhan's
The Gutenberg Galaxy: The Making of Typographic
Man (Toronto: Uni of Toronto Press 1962) is of significantly
lower value for understanding new media or the wider implications
of what one pundit characterised as "dried tree flakes
encased in dead cow".
the symbolic economy
Rise of the Knowledge Worker (Boston: Butterworth-Heinemann
1998) edited by James Cortada, along with The Knowledge
Economy and The Economic Impact of Knowledge
- both edited by Dale Neef - provide an excellent introduction
to the 'economy of symbolic analysts' - people who, like
you, who work with facts & figures. Alistair
Black's article The Victorian Information Society in
volume 17(1) of The Information Society examines
formation of 'information society' institutions and professions
in late 19th century Britain, also considered in Theories
of the New Media: A Historical Perspective (London:
Athlone Press 2000) edited by John Thornton Caldwell.
Tendencies & Tensions of the Information Age: The
Production & Distribution of Information in the United
States (New Brunswick: Transaction 1997) by Jorge
Schement & Terry Curtis is more restricted in scope
but provides a valuable introduction to the information-based
economy, extending Machlup's
pathbreaking Knowledge, Its Creation, Distribution
& Economic Significance (Princeton: Princeton
Uni Press 1984).
Two sites of particular significance are those for the
New Paradigms & Parallels: The Printing Press &
the Internet project
under the auspices of RAND, better known as a defence
think tank, and the November 2000 issue
of Communications Law in Transition.
taxonomies and catalogues
[under development] Of the estimated 8 to 20 million incunabula
believed to have been printed in the 45 years beginning
in 1455, approximately 400,000 known volumes survive in
complete or nearly complete form.