Thursday, September 12, 2013

From The Gutenberg Press To The E-Reader – Look How Far We've Come Baby!

Something many of you might not know is that I love collecting information. Especially
information that is almost forgotten, or so hard to find, it's nearly impossible to dig up - like ancient civilizations, archaic weapons, how the land masses of the planet have migrated. We would know nothing of these events if historians hadn't started writing them down, or in the case of early cave dwellers, drawing on cave walls.

In the beginning...a little history lesson...pictures were painted on cave walls. Later, the Sumerians made tokens inscribed with pictures. These tokens were pressed into clay to keep a record of cattle, grain and land transactions (remember those days?). There was cuneiform, pictographs drawn with a reed stylus by scribes (some of our first authors). In the forth millennium BC, the first alphabet morphed into Egyptian hieroglyphics drawn on papyrus. Then along came the Archiac scripts, and the Aramaic square scripts.

Along the way, either simultaneously, or independently, alphabets were developed in the Indus Valley, and by the Olmecs and Mayans. Fast forward to the biblical scrolls, the Greek, Roman (wax tablets), Gothic, and Italic alphabets. Soon came parchment, allowing monks to hand scribed books for the nobility. Paper was developed in China.

All this before the quill and the Gutenberg Press made their appearance. Rag paper, made from recycled clothing from the Great Plague (as a nurse, this makes me wince) became readily available. For the first time mass production of books is possible. From there it's a mad dash to digital books and the hand-held reader, though we did linger for a long while with the printed book, which has not totally been lost in the recent rush to the digital age.

Along this historic journey, there have been story tellers, stringing their words together that make me either laugh, or cry, or both at the same time. It's a new world out there, and I think as humans, we can learn a lot about where we're going by knowing where we've been. Today, print along side digital books and the e-reader. Tomorrow … ? Any guesses?

Susan Lute is an avid reader and the author of Falling For A Hero, The Anthology, and Dragon's Thief. You can find her on Facebook, Goodreads, and Pinterest.


3 comments:

Paty Jager said...

Fun post, Su!

Maggie Jaimeson said...

It seems to me the world of stories and media is becoming more visual, three dimensional, and interactive. I can see a future where every story comes in multimedia format. The user can select between straight reading, listening, seeing a movie (or clips) of scenes, creating visual characters from a selection of possibilities that will then show on the screen along with the audio.

Some of these we are already seeing bits and pieces of--especially in children's books and multimedia. The other thing we are starting to see and I wonder how popular it will become is the "create your own adventure" or "select your ending" kind of story. All of these possibilities will require very different writing and storytelling approaches.

I'm not sure whether to be scared or excited.

Danita Cahill said...

I think Maggie hit the nail on the head. Multi-media books with moving pictures will one day be the norm - after the price comes down, that is. I'm not that crazy about the idea, really. There are books. And there are movies. I read a book when I want to use my brain. I watch TV when I want to relax my brain. I really don't want the two to meld.