Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

An Ode to the P-Book Oh, Entrance Me with Your Heady Perfume of Sawdust and History, Exults Writer Michael T. Dolan, Still Smitten after All These Years

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

An Ode to the P-Book Oh, Entrance Me with Your Heady Perfume of Sawdust and History, Exults Writer Michael T. Dolan, Still Smitten after All These Years

Article excerpt

Librarians, bibliophiles, jaded English majors and editors, booksellers and writers - rejoice! Tomorrow is Printed Book Day, a day when endangered species the world 'round celebrate the advent of Gutenberg's printing press.

Granted, for these types the celebration is a bit subdued and not unlike most days of the year, which typically consist of diving into the pages of Faulkner or Fitzgerald, a hot cup of chamomile tea at the ready. Introverts are not known for their raucous festivities, and Jay Gatsby makes for a more entertaining party guest anyway.

Printed Book Day marks the anniversary of Johannes Gutenberg's printing of the Gutenberg Bible, traditionally held to have been on Feb. 23, 1455. It was the first Western book made with movable type, making Gutenberg's press perhaps the greatest invention known to civilization aside from the indoor toilet.

There are only 48 known surviving copies of the 1455 Gutenberg Bible, one of which was just donated to Princeton University. A single leaf from a Gutenberg Bible can fetch close to $100,000, while a complete volume might attract up to $35 million if the distinguished universities housing the remaining copies ever decide to hawk them on eBay.

There's a reason the Gutenberg Bible is so valued. The movable- type printing press transformed society in incalculable ways. No longer were books copied by hand and relegated to the wealthy few who could afford them. Books, and the knowledge therein, were now accessible to all classes of people. Gutenberg had leveled the playing field, and the world flipped upside down. The Internet is doing much the same today, as individuals everywhere, even in the remotest parts of the globe or in outer space, can access porn and cat videos with equal ease.

Not everyone is excited by Printed Book Day, of course. Our woody friends the trees are up in limbs about the anniversary and would rather you forgot the entire observance. Borrowing a ploy from the Chick-fil-A cows and their "Eat Mor Chikin' " playbook, forests everywhere are campaigning for us to "Read More E-books!"

While the campaign got off to a promising start several years ago, it seems to be leveling out a bit. …

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