The printing press
(© picture-alliance/ dpa Themendienst)
In all probability, the information society as we know it today would not exist had it not been for the invention of the printing press. It was in the middle of the 15th century that Johannes Gutenberg, a goldsmith from Mainz, first arranged whole pages of text out of individual metal letters and other characters and then used a press to print multiple copies on paper – thus developing modern printing.
In contrast to the labour-intensive method of copying books by hand, Gutenberg’s principle made it possible to reproduce texts uncomplicatedly, quickly and cheaply. This gave a far wider section of the population access to knowledge previously held by a small number of scholars. One of the first best-sellers published using the new technology, Luther’s translation of the Bible, even shook the power of the Catholic church.
When it comes to books, Germany is still one of the world’s leading nations today. Every year, Germany’s publishers release nearly 100,000 titles and produce 770 million books.