History Repeats Itself

by: Alicia Hughes

Gutenberg’s press wasn’t invented in a day; in fact, it wasn’t even made into widely used technology in a day. The press that revolutionized the spread and flow of ideas gradually came to be after centuries of manually transcribing texts and even after Gutenberg’s press was unveiled to the public there was still hesitancy towards shifting to a more efficient process.

Picture from Liz West

In From Gutenberg to the Internet, Jeremy Norma spends time to talk about choosing manuscript copies over printed books whether it be because of preference or the esteem that went with having a manuscript copy, “It has been shown that in the later part of the fifteenth century, scribes produced a large number of manuscript copies of printed books, presumably for patrons who preferred the traditional over the new technology, or possibly to substitute for a printed books if the printed was unavailable…The production of deluxe illuminated manuscript books of hours written and hand-printed on vellum, which were far more luxurious and expensive than printed books” (Norman 27).

This is much like times now with the rapid succession of technological advances. We can now read books online and although, it’s most times quicker and cheaper many people still prefer physical books to electronic copies.

Picture from Esther Vergas

I see a lot of parallels between what happened back in the 15th century and what’s happening now. As students who may one day work in publishing, we ourselves will also have to deal with phasing out the old to bring in the new even though many are set in their ways. We’ll have to deal with transitioning new technologies in when people are resistant to let the old technology go. So maybe we should take note on what worked and didn’t work then because in all reality it’s not so different to the technological revolution of today. It’s better to go into a battle prepared than clueless. After all, who knows when it’ll happen the next time. It could be another six hundred years or it could be another six.


3 thoughts on “History Repeats Itself

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  1. I completely agree. Currently there are a lot of debates between book lovers whether they prefer the old-fashioned print and paper or the ease of E-Books and none of them have come to a definite conclusion upon which is a better choice.

    I might mention some of these debates in your work. Just a small mention of what the general debate is and what each side prefers and why. Nothing fancy, but if you place it there it’ll make it a little clearer why there are some upsets in regards to reading and technology.

    I don’t know if it would make sense to mention one of the ways technology is expanding or if it would be too science fiction. Maybe mention some of the technology in development that moves beyond the kindle? I know some places like Apple are developing glasses to let you scan the internet/read and such. It might be going to far, but it’ll prove your point at the end about 6 or 600 years.

    Great pictures by the way, they really add to the piece.


  2. Hi Alicia!

    Your point about some people preferring physical books to their electronic alternative is spot on. I am one of those people. Nothing feels better than a physical book in your hand, not to mention that new book smell!

    If you were to go further in depth, you could do a poll of some sort and see how many people prefer what. It could be interesting to see the ratio of book lovers to e-book users. I’m sure you could also find the amount of e-readers sold by different companies. It could be a really interesting point that could help with your opinion.

    I really liked reading your post! It was totally relatable.



  3. Great idea regarding the poll, Heather. It could be interesting to see if preferences split across generations, or if age isn’t a deciding factor. You might also look into some statistics on the way the pace of technological change has increased exponentially, and consider what that means for people’s ability to catch up.


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