Publishing then, and now. New day, same story.

Keshawn Mashore

The Middle Ages, specifically the end of them, was a time in which the publishing industry produced books more painstakingly then what we are used to presently.  Hand copied manuscripts were the primary means of production, with books being far more tedious to make. This meant several things. There were generally fewer books in circulation, even in the realm of academia. Manuscripts were far more expensive, with those able to afford them only owning 2-3, which would become staples in the family for generations to come. Before the advent of the Gutenberg printing press, the process of publishing was certainly more about quality than it was about quantity, the difficulty of the process ensured that.

Fast forward to the 21st century, and although books are often mass produced, what gets mass produced is decided using the same mode of thought that existed during the late Middle Ages. Publishers still face the hard decision of deciding what to put out to the public, decisions that publishers like Matthew Stadler often find themselves making. Unlike most of his contemporaries however, he takes a more sympathetic approach to publishing. Publication Studios diverges from the typical publishing mold. If they like the work of a writer, they make with great care, and on individual machines, a single copy. No more are made until actual request for copies are made. This is somewhat reminiscent of how before the advent of the Gutenberg press, each copy of a manuscript, as well as the manuscript itself, was hand copied. Could this mean that we might possibly see the return of the focus on writers in the industry? Probably not, but this does not mean that what an organization like the Publication Studio is doing isn’t a good thing. They are giving hope to writers, something that is hard to come by in these times. When financial prospects seem, and are hard to come by, the motivation to write becomes purely passion based. Maybe, this will change if more people think along the lines of the Publication Studio, perhaps, one day in the future, writers can receive fair compensation for their writing, and not just the merits of their writing.


2 thoughts on “Publishing then, and now. New day, same story.

Add yours

  1. Keshawn –
    I love your twist on the hopeful spectrum for writers. There are so many stories and warnings for writers, along the lines of “don’t do it”. But you put it out there like there is hope. And that’s fantastic.
    I think that I really might like to see you elaborate a bit more on the choosing process for publications. They have to be chosen specially instead of mass produced, so do they wait around twiddling their thumbs in the dark until a light appears from a dim computer screen with a little red notification of someone requesting a story to be printed? Also, what makes these books more special than mass produced books? Where do they get the manuscripts? Are the manuscripts sent in? What makes this more special than the mass produced books?
    A little bit of research could make this post much more colorful, and it would be really interesting. Not that it isn’t already, I really like your word choice, but more so.


  2. Your comparison between hand-copied manuscripts (produced one at a time) and the copies made by the Publication Studio is really insightful! I’m glad you brought that up.

    While you don’t have to include a full Works Cited section here, please do note the name of the articles from which various info is drawn. A simple signal phrase can take care of this. For example: “In his essay ‘________’, Matthew Stadler discusses how__________.”

    Also, be sure to include a link or image in your next post. In this post, it might be interesting to link to the Publication Studio’s website.


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