Friday, August 11, 2017

Gutenberg's Fingerprint - Merilyn Simonds

Sub-title: Paper, pixels and the lasting impression of books

What a great read!  The author takes us through the publication process of a new book of her short stories with a letterpress printer, interwoven with the history of paper, print, ink and books.  I must have used over a dozen sticky notes to mark comments I wanted to re-visit.  Just going to record them here and go buy the book on Amazon!


 [On reading from paper vs screen] "Touching the thickness of paper and turning it leaves a kind of fingerprint in the mind, a marker of what has been read." p.36

What's a wayzgoose?  [The printer explains] "the proprietor of the print shop would throw a going-away goose dinner [for apprentice going out on his own]. After a while, any party for the printers at a print shop or a newspaper was called a wayzgoose." [One is held in April in Grimsby, Ontario].

"One of the most common ligatures, the ampersand (&), was originally made by joining "e" and "t" which spelled "et" Latin for "and."."

[A good Scrabble word] Then he inserts a small key into the quoin a word I've used often in Scrabble although I didn't know it meant "corner", from the French "coin".

[Discussion of using blood as an ink] "The Scottish Convenanters signed their call for a Presbyterian Scotland in their own blood, wearing red neckerchiefs as their insignia (the genesis of the term redneck, which originally meant a Scottish dissenter)."

[First paperback] "David Smyth patented his book sewing machine in 1879.  Perfect binding - gluing instead of stitching - was invented twenty years later, but it was rarely used until 1931, when Germany's Albatross Books introduced the first paperback."

On page 298 there is a whole list of futuristic ideas for enjoying books; from a service that tracks what you read and organizes those reads in different ways to one that maps all the locations you've read about in books.  Yes, yes!

There's even a candle that smells like a book on Amazon (p.327)!

In the end, there is a party to celebrate the publication of her book of short stories with all the people that were involved in its creation.

A wonderful read, highly recommended!

Published: 2017   Read: August 2017  Genre: Non-fiction

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