Yale £16.99 (421pp)£15.29 from the Independent Bookshop: 08430 600 030
The book in the renaissance, by Andrew Pettigree
Friday 28 October 2011
Resonating with ourown informationrevolution, this livelywork explores theearly days of theprinted book. In the1450s, Gutenbergstartled the Frankfurt Book Fairwith the first printed Bible.Though scribes fought arearguard action with copying byhand, their trade was doomed. Bythe mid-1600s, an efficient presscould produce up to 1,500 pages,printed front and back, per day. Inconsequence, 350,000 books hadbeen published in Europe by 1600.Most were religious texts "but afew crept in purely for pleasure ordiversion". Among the tantalisingillustrations is a 1591 work calledNewes from Scotland. It tells allabout the burning of "Dr Fian, anotable sorcerer… The like hathnot bin heard at anie time".
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