The Creation of the Printing Press

The Renaissance was the period of vast rebirth throughout the arts. Between the fourteenth through sixteenth centuries, the concept of the arts became important among many classes. One of the results of this shift in thinking was the creation of the printing press by Johannes Gutenberg in 1440.

Before Gutenberg’s creation, elementary presses were employed. For instance, books were created using a block printing method, where characters and images were carved into a wooden block and then pressed on paper. Block printing proved to be time consuming and expensive because each page was individual.  According to Steven Kreis, of The History Guide, Gutenberg made replication of texts easier by using different metals and melting them at a low temperature to create moveable type, which could be used multiple times. The simplicity of his creation (at that time) allowed for several copies of one story to be replicated and scattered across cities.

The printing press allowed reading to be an inclusive act – it was no longer a concept for the privileged. During the Medieval age, books were inscribed by hand and illuminated; the copies were so expensive that they were often chained to bookshelves.   After the creation of the printing press, literacy rates increased among the middle class, which led to its rise, another consequence of this time period. Before the printing press, stories were read aloud to a group of people or memorized and shared orally as part of the oral tradition; however, this creation paved the way to individual reading. People had the limited freedom to choose a story that suited them.

One of the first books that was mass produced was Gutenberg’s own creation, the Gutenberg Bible. He created 200 copies of the book on vellum, which is fine parchment paper from the skin of a calf. He sold these books at the Frankfurt Book Fair in 1455. In the world, fifty copies of this book remain.

The creation of the printing press led to the sharing of ideas and opinions. People were able to become more enlightened individuals by absorbing new information. The technique and mechanism of the printing press also made it possible for books to be affordably mass produced, which in turn allowed the spread of information to be easier.

The Renaissance Period was the age of enlightenment, when people appreciated the arts. Literature and information are two valuable components of this period and without the aid of the printing press, the enlightenment would not have come as .

After you have read about the creation of the printing press, compare it to your experience living in the technology era; do you prefer to read books in print or digitally?