Many realize that the history of publishing, especially book publishing, is fraught with ‘black-eyes’ and ‘skeletons-in-the-closet’ — But, I suspect, many are not and are working merrily along enamored with some dreamy, fairy tale, noble-intentioned ideas of the beginning missions and goals of this vaulted literary industry.
North America and Europe have actually revised the book publishing industry history the most, I believe, mostly through omission — leaving out certain facts that would give credit to other countries such as China and Korea.
Now don’t get me wrong, I love and respect our publishing industry (after all – it’s the only one we’ve got), but, it’s sometimes a little fun while being pragmatic, to set the record straight — or is it a little bit crooked?
Most Westerners were taught that Gutenberg invented the first printing press and movable type in Germany around 1450 AD or so.
NOT SO 🙂
Actually, printing reared it’s baby head in China during the Han dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD) with the use of woodblock printing on cloth and later on paper in Tang China as early as the 7th century, and continued with the invention of wooden movable type by East Asian artisans in Song China by the 11th century. Movable metal type was developed in Korea around 1041.
Probably many, many self-publishers at this time, you think?
More on Johannes Gutenberg, himself. Gutenberg was a businessman (dabbling in Goldsmithing and Blacksmithing besides printing and publishing) as much as he was an “artist” – and possibly much more interested in business than art. Unfortunately he was not an astute businessman and was bankrupt by 1455.
The book publishing trade today is very commercial in nature and definitely a descendant of those earliest times. So don’t look for any breaks or mentoring or even justice — Just develop a super thick skin, psyche and tons of perseverance *!@#%+