Check sibling questions
  • In the 11 th century, Chinese paper reached Europe . After which, scribes began producing manuscripts.
  • In 1295, Marco Polo, a great explorer, returned to Italy with his knowledge about woodblock printing from China and post that, Italians began producing books with woodblocks. This technology later spread to other parts of Europe.
  • However, Luxury Editions of books were still handwritten on very expensive      vellum ( parchment made from the skin of Animals). They were meant for aristocratic circles and rich monastic libraries which mocked at printed books as they were cheap. Merchants and students in university towns even bought cheap printed copies of them.
  • As the demand of books increased : -
  •   European booksellers began exporting books to different countries
  •   Book fairs were held at different places
  • Demand of scribes also increased
  • Woodblock printing became more and more popular as handwritten manuscripts were not enough to meet the growing demand.
  • MANUSCRIPTS were traditionally, any document written by hand . They were mostly written on palm leaves or Bark of trees

WHY were printed books preferred over manuscripts?

  • Manuscripts were fragile
  • Writing manuscripts was a laborious and time consuming business
  • Could not be carried around or read easily
  • Its circulation remained limited as it was difficult to handle.

Portrait of Johann Gutenberg - Teachoo.jpg

Portrait of Johann Gutenberg


  • The first ever known printing press was developed by Johann Gutenberg in Strasbourg, Germany in the 1430s.
  • Gutenberg was the son of a merchant and grew up on an agricultural estate. He was a master goldsmith.
  • Ever since childhood, he had seen wine and olive presses.
  • By 1448, he had perfected the printing press system .
  • The first book Gutenberg printed was the ‘ Bible.’ About 180 copies were printed and it took 3 years to print them.
  • Initial printed books looked the same like manuscripts, metal letters looked same like handwritten styles. Borders were illuminated with patterns and illustrations were painted.
  • In books printed for the rich , blank spaces were left for decoration so that they could choose the design themselves and ask the painting school to make it for them.
  • After coming of the printing press in Europe, book production boomed.
  • The shift from hand printing to mechanical printing (printing by the press) led to the PRINT REVOLUTION.

Gutenberg Printing Press - Teachoo.jpg





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Davneet Singh

Davneet Singh has done his B.Tech from Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur. He has been teaching from the past 13 years. He provides courses for Maths, Science, Social Science, Physics, Chemistry, Computer Science at Teachoo.