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For additional information on the preparation of early manuscripts, see writing.
A more detailed examination of printing technology can be found in printing.
History of publishing, an account of the selection, preparation, and marketing of printed matter from its origins in ancient times to the present.
The activity has grown from small beginnings into a vast and complex industry responsible for the dissemination of all manner of cultural material; its impact upon civilization is impossible to calculate.
Publishing could begin only after the monopoly of letters, often held by a priestly caste, had been broken, probably in connection with the development of the value of writing in commerce.
Scripts of various kinds came to be used throughout most of the ancient world for proclamations, correspondence, transactions, and records; but book production was confined largely to religious centres of learning, as it would be again later in medieval Europe.
Conquerors or usurpers wishing to destroy a people’s heritage have often burned its books, as did Shih Huang-ti in China in 213 , the Spaniards in Mexico in 1520, and the Nazis in the 1930s.
Freedom of the press was pursued and attacked for the next three centuries; but by the end of the 18th century a large measure of freedom had been won in western Europe and North America, and a wide range of printed matter was in circulation.
The history of publishing is characterized by a close interplay of technical innovation and social change, each promoting the other.
Publishing as it is known today depends on a series of three major inventions—writing, paper, and printing—and one crucial social development—the spread of literacy.
In less than 50 years it had been carried through most of Europe, largely by German printers.
Printing in Europe is inseparable from the Reformation.
The mechanization of printing in the 19th century and its further development in the 20th, which went hand in hand with increasing literacy and rising standards of education, finally brought the printed word to its powerful position as a means of influencing minds and, hence, societies.