History of the Book, Authorship, Book Design, and Publishing

Authored by: David Finkelstein

Handbook of Research on Writing

Print publication date:  July  2007
Online publication date:  March  2009

Print ISBN: 9780805848694
eBook ISBN: 9781410616470
Adobe ISBN: 9781135251116


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It has been argued that the history of the book in Western culture can be subdivided into three key revolutionary phases (see e.g., Anderson, 1983; Eisenstein, 1979; Johns, 1998; McLuhan, 1962/1969; Ong, 1982/2002). The first was the movement from oral to written cultures (which included such key moments as the invention of the alphabet, the development of written languages, the setting up of trade structures and economies, the creation and use of writing tools such as ink, paper, and codexes, and the setting up of systems of writing). The second involved shifts from literacy to printing, moving through manuscript culture, the invention of printing, the move of print into the center of culture and society, and the printing of books and newspapers for mass audiences thanks to technological advances during the Industrial Revolution. The third phase is one we are currently living through, moving from print to computer-mediated technology, and seeing print absorbed into a larger communication framework that includes visual and sound media.

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