From Manuscript to Print: the Evolution of the Medieval Book

Manuscripts in the Age of Print
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When Gutenberg invented moveable metal type in the 1450s, he chose to print the most important book in Christendom in order to introduce his fledgling technology to the market. While he was a mechanical genius, his ability as a businessman was nothing extraordinary, and he eventually had to surrender his assets to pay his debts. In the hands of the entrepreneurs who followed, however, printing quickly established itself as a viable means of supplying the demand for books–and eventually as the only way. Soon, printers surpassed scribes in the marketplace by reproducing the familiar look of the manuscript in a fraction of the time and at lower cost. By the end of the 16th century, professional manuscript-copying dropped off precipitously. It was later done only under certain circumstances, such as in locations where printing presses were rare, or on occasions that required the pomp that only calligraphy on fine parchment could supply.

continue to Evolution of the Book

Introduction
the Sacred Word
Churchbooks
Private Prayer
Letterforms
Leather and Chains
Medieval Music
Schoolbooks
How the Classics Survived
Manuscripts in the Age of Print
Evolution of the Book
Appetite for Destruction
Manuscript Facsimiles
Cornell's Medieval Books
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