We have come to forget that the introduction of the printing press by Gutenberg mattered, or we have come to assume that it directly led to the Protestant Reformation. Eisenstein wondered how true that was, and what other changes the press wrought in European society in the couple of hundred years after the press was introduced. Start with the concept of authorship--once books could be reproduced in quantity, authorship mattered. Then consider the question of alphabetization and indexing. Then think of what happens when travel writers describe native dress--people start believing the books and variations become more extreme to meet the printed word. That's just the beginning. Eisenstein's book is not just an incredible work, well written, about the effect on our culture of the printing press. It is also the sort of book that makes one realize how unimaginable and vast the influence of any invention can have on a society. This book is critical for media studies, history, printing, typography, just to better understand our own society, or for the pleasure of a good, thorough, read.
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