Today, there is existing technology that people decades ago couldn’t even imagine. When something new is released, some people think there is absolutely no way it could get more advanced than this. Others question why flying cars have yet to be invented. The way we think about technological advances differs from person to person. However, we can all agree that technology has drastically transformed from what it used to be. This is especially true in literary publishing. In the fifteenth century, Gutenberg’s printing press changed the way people shared their ideas. In the twentieth century, electronic digital media was introduced and opened even more doors in the publishing industry. Regardless of what people think about these advances, they make the publishing industry more successful and convenient in various ways.
Before the fifteenth century, manuscript writing was extremely tedious and costly; because of this, very few books were made. Resultantly, ideas within such books were restricted and travelled to readers at a much slower pace. In From Gutenberg to the Internet, Jeremy Norman briefly discusses the shift from manuscript writing to the printing press, as well as the effects it had on the society. The author explains that, “the limited supply and high costs of manuscripts restricted their circulation” and “inevitably constrained the development and flow of ideas” (23). With the invention of Gutenberg’s printing press, “Printing greatly increased the speed of book production and lowered its unit cost” and so, “printing caught on relatively quickly” (28). Now that more books were being produced, people could easily express their ideas to readers and for a much lower price. Because of this, it seems as though cost and convenience work in tandem. Once making books started to become easier, the prices went down, too. Since people were putting most of their time and hard work into the production of books, it only makes sense that people would have to pay more in order to utilize them. In the fifteenth century, the invention of the printing press made writing and reading much more convenient for everybody – authors and readers.
Within the publishing industry today, the Internet is used for most things. It can be used for writing, editing, promoting and selling books. Authors even have the choice to publish versions of their work electronically and sell “e-books.” Because it is so easy to publish online now, essentially with just one click, people may not realize exactly how difficult it used to be to publish their ideas. While some people associate the act of reading with physically touching a book and flipping through its pages, digital media has changed the way people can read. Kindles, an invention people in the fifteenth century couldn’t even dream of, make reading a lot more convenient today. Kindles allow you to have multiple books right at your fingertips, without having to carry them around with you wherever you go. Having just four books in a household was considered a luxury in the fifteenth century, while now some people carry 40 books in their kindle alone. E-books on a kindle even allow you to change the size of fonts in order to read the words better, a feature that can be very helpful to readers with poor eyesight. Although the creation of books is still very much a craft today, it is difficult to try and relate to what people back then actually had to go through in order to construct and read a book. While some people may choose to buy print versions of books and read them that way, kindles do make things more convenient for some readers today. Whether it is the transformation from manuscript writing to the printing press or reading e-books on a kindle, the technological advances that occur every day affect the publishing industry and society as a whole in order to continue making writing and reading more convenient for everyone.
Norman, Jeremy M. From Gutenberg to the Internet: a sourcebook on the history of
information technology. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.