Impact of Printing on Society

Have you ever thought how people used to read before the
invention of printing press? Well, we will tell you.
Believe it or not, the books were copied by hand and then
distributed. The method was extremely slow as compared to
the modern-day technologies. Only those books, which were
good, were printed.

It is interesting to know that the Great Library at
Alexander was one of the biggest in the medieval world. The
authorities impounding all written material found on boats
that docked at the city's port achieved this. These were
then copied and subsequently returned to the rightful

Clearly with so much to go through, reading was a hobby
closed to everyone but the upper classes, who were in any
case often the only ones who were able to read and write.
Perhaps the only book many people would ever see during
Europe's dark ages was the bible. Since it could only be
read by the priest it's little wonder the book and the
priest held such power.

When the printing was invented, the churches invariably
suffered massively. A significant reason for the rapid
spread of the Protestant Reformation was the printed matter
that was distributed, generally with an intention to attack
the Catholic Church.

Literacy rates were still low however and many of the books
used illustrations rather than text to tell the tales. One
such book was the 'Whore of Babylon', in which the Pope was
seen as the whore. He was often depicted behaving as though
he were greater than Jesus Christ - the Pope letting people
wash his feet whereas Christ had washed the feet of the
poor, or wearing three golden crowns when Christ had died
wearing a Crown of Thorns. They demonstrated clearly how the
Catholic Church had become sacrilegious in the eyes of it's

It is believed that the first printing was done in the
Europe. It was done at Gutenberg press and printed in 1440
AD. Some experts argue that it was in Korea in 1404 that
the first moveable-type metal printing press was invented.
Another interesting fact is that printing in the East can
be traced as far back as 6th century BC.

Wood printing in the East in 9th century printing with
movable typefaces in the 11th century, was common in the
East. Pi Sheng invented movable typefaces printing in
China. The libraries in Baghdad and China held thousands of
printed books in the 13th century that was a rarity in
other parts of the world.

There is little doubt that the invention of printing was the
driving force for much social change, including the
Protestant movement. With printing came a method to spread
knowledge unlike anything else. It was matched by an impulse
to spread learning that meant a rise in literacy rates over
the years to come. The wonder of knowledge began to move
within everyone's reach, and the world was changed for good.

-Adrito Delaso

Adrito Delaso is the administrator of AP Publishing, your
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