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Topic – Printing Books

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Printing Books

Today, printing presses use electricity and computers to quickly create many copies of a book. How did people print books long ago, before computers and electricity?

Woodcut Printing

In woodcut printing, each page of a book was carved in wood. People carved away the wood around the letters, so the letters were higher. Then, a flat roller covered in ink was rolled over the wood. The ink went only on the letters because they were higher. A piece of paper was then pressed onto the wood page. The ink on the wood printed the words on the paper.

It took a long time to carve the block of wood for one page. Imagine how long it took to carve all the pages in a book! In the 1500s, a man named Johannes Gutenberg invented a faster way to print books.

The First Printing Press

Gutenberg created small blocks of metal. Each block had one letter on it. The letter was higher than the rest of the metal block. To print books, Gutenberg created many of these metal letters. There were many blocks with the letter a, many with the letter b, and so on.

Gutenberg created a frame for each page of a book. Then, he used the letters on the metal squares to spell out each word on the page. Next, he used an ink roller to spread ink over the squares. The letter was the highest part of each square, so the ink went only on the letter. Finally, he put a piece of paper on top of the frame and pressed it down on the letters. The ink on the metal letters printed the words onto the paper.

Once a page was printed, Gutenberg could take the metal squares out of the frame and use the same letters to print a different page of the book.

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