Printing books – a German tradition

Movable type was the invention of a century (Photo: Pixabay)

Despite the digital revolution, books still are an essential part of everyday life as well as scientific research. Did you know that the Printing Revolution started in Germany, paving the way for a modern knowledge-based economy?

The introduction of printing books with movable type by Johannes Gutenberg in the 15th century changed everything, and not only in Germany: Information suddenly was available for everyone and literacy increased. The political and religious elite found themselves in a difficult position because their authority was being questioned. In the end, Gutenberg’s invention changed the whole of society by making mass communication possible.

Apart from the obvious impact Gutenberg’s invention had on society, it also changed the book industry. Soon after Gutenberg succeeded in printing books with movable letters, he presented his work at the Frankfurt Trade Fair. Only a short time later, the first book fair in Frankfurt near Mainz was held. Nowadays, the Frankfurt Book Fair – always at the beginning of October – is one of the most important meetups of the book industry. It focuses mainly on booksellers who order the books they want to sell in their shops and publisher’s representatives negotiating rights. It opens to the public only on the weekend.

The second major book fair is in Leipzig. Held in March, its target audience are readers and – on contrary to the Frankfurt Book Fair – is open for everyone on all days. The Fair also seeks to emphasise the importance the reader has and the relationship between readers and authors. For that, lots of events are planned – readings and book signings, interviews and talks. Specialties of the Leipzig Book Fair are their sections on audiobooks and mangas. Fans of the latter can also visit the Manga Comic Convention, held parallel to the book fair.

Have you become interested in the book fairs or in reading something more about Gutenberg’s invention? The next book fair in Leipzig is from 17 to 20 March 2016. And we can really recommend the book “Gutenberg’s apprentice” from Alix Christie that tells the story of Gutenberg’s invention through the eyes of his apprentice. It’s a fascinating read!

More information on the Leipzig Book Fair:

Text: S. Schückel

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