Not just on the back of Luther or Gutenberg

by Paul Burmeister

In his marvelous history of Western cultural life Jacques Barzun wrote that Martin Luther's hope of reform may very well have floundered, if not for people who modified printing ink, people who developed better paper, people who designed pages, people who illustrated texts, people who ran print shops, and people who delivered sheets to distributors. Indeed, a multitude of vocations, many of them collected around the craft of printing and publishing, made possible the revolution that was the Reformation. Barzun: "Some notion of the force wielded by this new artifact, 'the book,' may be gathered from the estimate that by the first year of the 16C, 40,000 separate editions of all kinds of works had been issued—roughly nine million volumes from more than a hundred presses."