Books Written by Hand

were books written by hand

Traditionally, books have been written by hand. These manuscripts differ from one another because of the inherent variations that come with anything handmade. For instance, two seemingly identical manuscripts may differ in the script that they were written in, the quality of the parchment and the ink would be different from batch to batch, and different illuminators would do different rounds of decoration. Moreover, each book would have different wear patterns, reflecting the whims of its owner.

Middle Ages

During the Middle Ages, books were traditionally written by hand. Many books were written in two different hand styles: Gothic and Latin. The former was known as the Black Letter and was used in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, mostly for English literary works, such as Chaucer manuscripts. The latter style was later used for other types of writing, such as legal documents. Both styles are very similar and have similar traits.

The majority of manuscripts in the Middle Ages were religious. The Books of Hours were the most ornate. The lay owner of these books was assigned a specific cycle of prayers. Throughout the book, he would find illustrations depicting scenes of worship and daily life. In the Book of Hours, a layperson could customize the prayers and images within the book, though a few people preferred to be illustrated among the saints.

Early printing

The advent of the printing press was not an end to books written by hand. Hundreds of thousands of printed books were produced during the Middle Ages. The first printed books in England were produced by William Caxton in the 1470s. Caxton is best known for his edition of Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, which were produced following a dispute with a customer who was dissatisfied with his first edition. The customer subsequently had the manuscript printed and commissioned an illustrator to illustrate the text with woodcuts.

In the Middle Ages, printing books became possible because of the movable type printing press. This new invention brought book production into the industrial age. Johannes Gutenberg, Peter Schoffer, and Johan Fust revolutionized the way books were produced. The movable type printing press drastically reduced the costs of making books and made them more accessible to a wider audience. By the 17th century, printing was widespread and could be made inexpensively.


As paperbacks became the standard format for books, their use became widespread. Paperbacks, or pocket books in Continent-language countries, turned book borrowers into book buyers. They also created new readers and made reading more affordable than ever. These books were popular in developing countries and African nations. Paperbacks were easily accessible everywhere. In addition to their low price, paperbacks were available in a wide variety of formats.

The difference between paperbacks and hardcovers is the material used for the cover. Paperbacks are typically made of paper, but are also known as softcovers or trade paperbacks. Their covers are made of thick paper. Paperbacks are less durable than hardcovers, and often have glue to hold them together. Hardcovers, by contrast, are durable and sturdy, and often have better value than paperbacks.

Early phototypesetting machines

Early phototypesetting machines were largely analog, relying on elaborate assembly of mirrors and a straight line projection to move an image across the surface of a paper or film with a photographic negative. These machines could set up to five characters per second and were often used in composing rooms. They were also not suitable for book work. But their use did not diminish their importance. Today, phototypesetting machines are still widely used in publishing, especially for books and newspapers.

The process of writing a book is quite complex, and there are many differences between the methods of phototypesetting. Early phototypesetters relied on a mechanical film transport assembly that carefully positions the photosensitive material before receiving light from the lens. Modern phototypesetting machines, on the other hand, use an electronic printing process to reproduce information in a block form. This method allows for the minimum movement of the photographic film. The phototypesetter reproduces the page image by printing one block at a time, each block consisting of several letters and numbers in different fonts.

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