Five Hundred Years of Printing

By S. H. Steinberg; John Trevitt | Go to book overview

Conclusion

Rivals of the printed word have sprung up in films, broadcasting and television. The printing press made it possible for millions of people to read the same text at the same moment: radio, television and the cinema enable millions of people to hear the same text spoken and to see the same performance acted at the same moment. To what extent are these new means of mass communication going to affect the future of the printed word?

Certainly the number of people who rely on radio and television for entertainment and instruction is steadily increasing. Yet is the number of readers decreasing? Statistics have proved the contrary.When newspapers took up reviewing books, they did not divert the interest of their readers from newspapers to books. An increase in the sale of books was by no means damaging to the circulation of newspapers: both could thrive very well side by side without their respective spheres overlapping. The same forecast may be ventured as regards the competition for the favour of the public between broadcast and book. Publishers, booksellers, teachers and librarians can testify to the fact that a good many people are currently being induced to read books after having listened to literary broadcasts (such as reviews of new publications, recitals from poetry, or serialized adaptations of novels) or after having watched on the screen the filmed version of a play or story.

The peaceful coexistence of print, sound and vision is to a large extent guaranteed by the psycho-physiological make-up of the human race. The basic division into visual, auditory and motorial types means that the primary and strongest impulses are conveyed through the eyes, the ears and the muscles respectively. These types, though of course not clear-cut, are sufficiently differentiated to ensure the permanence, side by side, of three groups of people who derive the deepest impression and greatest satisfaction from either reading words printed, or listening to words spoken, or watching words acted.

Before the days of Edison and Marconi the printer was the sole distributor of the word by means of large and uniform publication.After the loss of this monopoly the printer will have to reconsider his position, which may be said (with a grain of salt) to have remained unchanged since the time of Gutenberg.However, as this open competition will certainly result in further improving the printer's craft it is all to the good. In the long run the general public, the last judge of the printer's endeavours, will benefit by it, and the printer will continue to hold the proud position of a man — as Gutenberg's epitaph puts it — 'well-deserving of all nations and languages'.

SHS

-250-

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Five Hundred Years of Printing
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Five Hundred Years of Printing *
  • Contents v
  • Reviser''s Preface vii
  • Introduction i
  • Chapter I- The First Century of Printing 1450-1550 3
  • Chapter II- The Era of Consolidation 1550-1800 74
  • Chapter III- The Nineteenth Century 1800-1900 136
  • Chapter IV- 1900-1955 170
  • Chapter V- The Postwar World 218
  • Conclusion 250
  • Select Bibliography 251
  • Index 255
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