A recent question by a client caused me to reflect on the changes in technology that we enjoy in the publishing industry. In the western world, for five centuries – since Johannes Gutenberg invented the moveable type printing press – the individually cast, reusable letters which made up the words produced on a page of a book were placed onto a tray by hand. The tray contents were inked and paper and tray pressed together to transfer the ink onto the paper.
Today, the letters – or more properly, glyphs – that make up the words on the page of your books are are pixels, bits and bytes, with virtually every step of the printing process fully digitized. Today, we submit a file (usually produced in the software program InDesign) which conveys all the information the digital or offset printing press needs to produce the pages of your book.
For a look at the book production technology that reigned for nearly 500 years, enjoy this wonderful silent movie made in 1925 by the Federation of British Industry called “Oxford University Press and The Making of a Book”. Watch the video: