books · libraries

What Can Old Books Tell Us about the History of Printing?

As a fan of libraries, the University of Glasgow’s blog is one of my favorite resources. Check out this post to discover what old books can tell us about the history of printing.

If you haven’t explore their site yet, I encourage you to do so. It is a paradise for book lovers.

University of Glasgow Library

Both big books and small books usually started out being printed on sheets the same size Both of these early printed books could have been printed on the same size sheets of paper

When you look at an old printed book you’re not really looking at a single book but a series of smaller ‘booklets’ joined together. Books weren’t printed one page at a time but on large sheets of paper subsequently folded into booklets (called gatherings). Therefore pages aren’t the building blocks of early printed books; sheets are. Whether it’s a teeny wee pocket book or a heavy big lectern book, it may well have started out being printed on on the same size sheet of paper.1

A big book, like a lectern Bible, will often contain a series of four page booklets joined together, each booklet formed from two pages printed on either side of a sheet of paper which has then been folded once (books made in this way are described as folio format).2

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8 thoughts on “What Can Old Books Tell Us about the History of Printing?

  1. Kristen- thanks for this really interesting article. It is definitely something all writers should read as things like this tend to stick in your brain and one day you might be writing an historical piece and Bingo… Instant Authenticity! A great find

    Liked by 1 person

      1. No I agree I think historical fiction is the hardest thing because you don’t know the basics of how people lived their daily life.. but you don’t want overlard the story with cluttered detail. Nothing irks me more than an historical novel with stuff out of context. You should hear me screaming at the TV!

        Liked by 1 person

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