When Johann Gutenberg and his team published their Bible in the mid-1450s, what they were selling to buyers were sets of sheets, sheets of either paper or parchment that had text printed on them. What they were not selling were books—not, at least, if we take “book,” as we usually do, to imply a codex that is ready to read by turning a series of leaves held together at one edge. As I have written before, when a monastery, church, or private individual bought a Bible from Gutenberg, they had to find a scribe to add red text to spaces that the printers had left blank. Gutenberg’s customers had to find bookbinders, too.
early books and manuscripts
The publication and series of programs Collated & Perfect tracks the changing standards that collectors, institutions, and scholars have used to describe and evaluate early printed books. Doing so reveals why the books take the often surprising forms they do today. [Read more…] about Collated & perfect
In order to understand the Gutenberg Bible, it is critical to remember that it is a medieval book that was designed to satisfy the needs of medieval readers. Today, we expect pages in most books to be black and white. To navigate what we read, we rely on variations in typography, centered text, indents, and other creative uses of white space. [Read more…] about Printing manuscripts