All Things Printed & Recorded: The Printing Press Helps the World Get Bookish

This year in our HPB calendar (you got one, right?) we’re celebrating all things printed and recorded—and played, solved, watched, etc. In other words, all the cool stuff we sell in our stores.

For January, we’re taking a look at the development of books and printing. A good place to start, huh?

Gutenberg circleDID YOU KNOW?

  • Books were costly and relatively rare before the innovations of Johannes Gutenberg. In 1439 he developed a system of printing—using movable type and a wooden press—that was quickly adopted throughout Europe and beyond, leading to increased production of books and the spread of knowledge to the masses.
  • Movable type, where individual characters are used to create words imprinted on a page, existed as early as 1045 in China. Gutenberg was the first to make type using metal, using an alloy of lead, tin and antimony.
  • Mental Floss calculated that, throughout history, about 134,000,000 unique book titles have been published.


2nd cent. BCE  In India, texts written on palm leaves are bound with twine between two boards.
antique book1st cent. The codex appears. With folded pages bound on one side between two hard covers, codices are portable, easy to use and presage the modern book.
1455  Gutenberg completes his 42-line Bible, printing 180 copies.
1810  The steam-powered printing press leads to greater speed and efficiency.
1843  Book production flourishes thanks to the steam-powered rotary press.


book The Gutenberg Revolution: How Printing Changed the Course of History, John Man
book Gutenberg’s Apprentice: A Novel, Alix Christie
book Five Hundred Years of Printing, S.H. Steinberg & John Trevitt
book Type: The Secret History of Letters, Simon Loxley
music-note-21 Gutenberg! The Musical, Original Off-Broadway Cast Recording
clapperboard The Book of Eli
clapperboard The Book Thief

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