Books were expensive in the 1800s, but the price of books is not the sole reason. Wood-pulp paper and stereotyping helped to make books more affordable. However, the printing press did not bring books into the hands of the poor. And Gutenberg’s printing press did not make books affordable for everyone.
Novels became a pleasurable pastime
Novels became a popular pastime for people in the late 1800s. They were inexpensive, and readers could read them anywhere. Throughout the 1800s, the development of the railroad network made it easy to find novels to read, and a wide variety of books were published in a variety of genres.
Gutenberg’s printing press did not bring books into the hands of the poor
It is widely believed that Gutenberg invented the printing press in the late 15th century, and it only took a couple of years for its widespread use to spread throughout Europe. The printing press revolutionized Europe, making books available to the masses at a fraction of the cost of books previously available only to the rich and clergy. This increased literacy rate transformed politics, religion, and lifestyles throughout the world.
Gutenberg did not live to see the impact of his invention, but his biggest accomplishment was the first printed Bible in Latin. The process took only three years to produce just 200 copies, a feat that still amazes us today. However, the printing press did not become profitable until a reliable distribution network was developed.
The introduction of Gutenberg’s printing press also helped increase literacy rates, which created a market for printed texts. The printing press was also crucial in the emergence of the Scientific Revolution and the Age of Enlightenment. During the period, religious and aristocratic leaders helped the spread of the printing press throughout Europe, making books more accessible to the poor and accelerating human progress.
Wood-pulp paper reduced the cost of making books
Making paper from wood was more expensive back in the 1800s, but new papermaking machines made it cheaper. As a result, paper mills started to experiment with using wood to make paper. In the mid-1800s, forests spread across the United States. Because trees grew anywhere they could find a source of water, they were easy to harvest and could be cut at any time of the year. The downside was that wood pulp paper was not ideal for making books with fine-looking covers and heirloom quality.
By the late 1800s, paper manufacturers found ways to make books with wood pulp. This made paper cheaper and easier to produce. It also led to automation in bookbinding. In 1856, David McConnell Smyth invented the first sewing machine for bookbinding. The Smyth Manufacturing Company began manufacturing the machine in 1880. Eventually, they expanded into other processes such as case-making and trimming.
As papermaking processes developed, the technology became more sophisticated. Modern machines, such as those that grind peeled logs in streams of water, made it easier to produce stronger paper. However, traditional methods were still used by many mills. After the 1800s, however, papermaking began to change rapidly, as new methods were developed. In particular, the Hollander beater and the Hollander machine were introduced. In addition, chlorine bleach and rosin and alum were introduced to the industry. In addition, genetically modified trees increased the growth rate and broke down lignin more easily.
Stereotyping made books less expensive
Books became cheaper to produce due to stereotyping. For example, during the mid-1800s, the boom in the printing industry resulted in the creation of dime novels. These popular stories were written and printed between the 1830s and 1930s and were preceded by story papers and pamphlet novels.