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The First Printed Books

The print technology was first developed in China, Japan and Korea. Printing was done by hand.

The first form of print technology :-

  • Wooden blocks were carved with words or designs. The carvings were in relief.
  • These wooden blocks were inked.
  • Then paper was rubbed against it.
  • The markings now made an impression on the paper.
  • The paper was thin and so printing was done only on one side.
  • The papers were folded and stitched.

This kind of print technology started in china in the AD 594. Paper was also discovered in China. Superbly skilled craftsmen could duplicate the printed scripts with remarkable accuracy.

The imperial state in China was the major producer of printed material for a long time.

The Government of China recruited its employees through civil service examinations. Text books were needed for these examinations. So vast number of text books were printed in during the 16th century.

Things changed in China during the seventeenth century. As urbanisation took place, the uses of print diversified.

  • Merchants used print in their daily life, to update trade information.
  • People stated reading fiction, poetry, biographies, autobiographies, and romantic plays during their leisure time.
  • Rich women began to read, and many women began publishing their poetry and plays. Wives of scholar-officials published their works and courtesans wrote about their lives.
  • This new reading culture was accompanied by a new technology. Western printing techniques and mechanical presses were imported in the late nineteenth century as Western powers established their presence in China and Shanghai became the hub of the new print culture, catering to the Western-style schools.

    From hand printing there was now a gradual shift to mechanical printing.

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