Old School Printing

Tidbits from the week's publishing news, including the completion of a hand-drawn and illustrated version of the St. John's Bible, the death of Michael Hart (inventor of the ebook), and an award Eric Carle hasn't won... yet.
black and white image of a man turning an enormous screw to stamp an image onto paper using an early version of the printing press
William Caxton showing specimens of his printing to King Edward IV and his Queen. Published in The Graphic in 1877 refering to The Caxton Celebration. The Caxton Celebration, commemorating the 400th anniversary of the first printed book in England, took place in London in the summer of 1877. (Image: The Graphic, June 30, 1877, p617, via Wikipedia)

Thirteen years and $8 million later, scribes in Wales have finally finished their hand-drawn and illustrated version of the St. John’s Bible

Now that’s old school.

The work was commissioned by the Benedictine monks at St. John’s Abbey and St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minnesota and funded primarily by donations.

Eighteen gorgeously illustrated pages from “Letters and Revelation” will be on display in the Minneapolis Institute of Arts through November 13. A second exhibit, which will include 44 pages from the “Wisdom Books” and “Prophets” will go on display at the New Mexico History Museum on October 21.

Can’t catch either show? Consider purchasing a Heritage Edition, a full-size facsimile of the entire 1150-page seven-volume work, available for a mere $140,000.

What we love about this story is not that Welsh scribes are still producing hand-painted books, although that is great for those of you who can afford their output. But really we love this story because it’s such a powerful reminder of how profoundly the development of the Gutenberg press changed access to knowledge in our world.

Michael Hart, the inventor of ebooks, Founder of Project Gutenberg, dies

Speaking of ready access to knowledge, we bid a fond farewall to Michael Hart, who reportedly invented the ebook when he typed the US Declaration of Independence onto a computer and posted it to the fledgling Internet on a whim in 1971.

For his next trick, he used the computers at the University of Illinois to launch Project Gutenberg, a volunteer-driven organization that offers users access to more than 36,000 free ebooks in 60 different languages. As Hart said in July 2011 when reflecting on his work at Project Gutenberg,

“One thing about ebooks that most people haven’t thought much is that ebooks are the very first thing that we’re all able to have as much as we want other than air. Think about that for a moment and you realize we are in the right job.”

– Michael Hart, July 2011

There’s an award Eric Carle hasn’t won?

In yesterday’s ShelfTalker, children’s bookseller Elizabeth Bluemie laments the fact that some of her favorite illustrators, including Barbara McClintock (Animal Fables from Aesop), Eric Carle (The Very Hungry Caterpillar), and Judy Schachner (Skippyjon Jones) have not yet won the Caldecott Medal. Click through to read her rant and see examples of these artists’ remarkable work.

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Cross-posted on our sister blog, Caterpickles.

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