The Importance of Printing
( Originally Published 1930 )
When the art of printing was unknown, only a few people were able to read and write, and all book knowledge was confined to church officials and to those who were teachers in the universities of those days. During the period when printing was invented there was a general desire for learning throughout Europe, and this invention, while it made books cheaper, also made it necessary to possess at least the ability to read. So in order to gain knowledge, people began to learn to read; and in order to communicate with others who were not within talking distance, they were compelled to learn to write. Thus, printing is important because it caused knowledge to be spread among the many instead of keeping it confined to the few. It is true that in the early days of this art few people in comparison with the number today knew how to read or write, but since that time education for all has been spreading until at the present time a certain amount of schooling is compulsory for all the children in this country.
The development of printing has made it possible for us to use our ability to read, because books on hundreds of different subjects, magazines, and newspapers are published at prices that are within reach of most of us. The development of public libraries, where books may be drawn out free of charge, is also the result of the invention of printing which has made possible the rapid production of many copies of single books. Thus knowledge has been placed within the reach of all who care to gain possession of it. Science, art, and literature are no longer the mysteries they were in bygone days; and the news of the current happenings all over the world is handed to us almost within a few hours after their occurrence through the medium of the daily newspapers. The monthly and weekly magazines and the newspapers not only print the news of the day, but they also publish stories and articles discussing a wide range of topics which are written in such a manner as to make them intelligible to all. The invention of printing, therefore, has aided in the movement to spread knowledge among the many.
In the old days, before printing and some of the other modern inventions were discovered, people in one community knew very little about those in other places because the means of communication were lacking. This resulted in ignorance and a lack of understanding between peoples. The situation is quite different today. Due to books, magazines, and newspapers, among other things which were made possible by the invention of printing, people in one part of the world can make themselves understood by others. Thus they are brought closer together and are able to make use of all the things which are devised, invented, and thought of in all parts of the world.
The members of this industry call printing the " art preservative of all the arts." This is due to the fact that with the aid of this invention we are able to make permanent records of current events and of the progress that is being made in all lines of endeavor from day to day. Thus we are able to hand down to future generations accurate and trustworthy accounts of our activities in contrast with the distant past when most records were transmitted by word of mouth. The people who are engaged in the work of printing or the preservation of these accounts are therefore rendering an important service to the communities in which they live.