Things You Didn’t Know About the History of Book BindingThe printing press was invented in 1447 by Johannes Gutenberg. Ok, you may have known that but, there are plenty of things you probably didn’t know about the invention of the printing press. For example:
- The first metal movable-type printing system was actually invented 216 years earlier in what was then the Chinese tributary state of Korea. The Korean inventors themselves were improving on movable type printing press technology that had been invented in China by printer Bi Sheng between 1041 and 1048. So the Chinese had Gutenberg beat by 400 years!
- The oldest movable metal print book in existence is a Korean book, known as the Jikji, printed in 1377. The book is a guide for students of Buddhism.
- The printing press was a key factor in the growth of the Renaissance movement in Europe. Improvements to the Gutenberg press allowed for mass distribution of printed materials and the first instance of mass communication in the world. The spread of ideas through the printing press led to everything from scientific advances to the Reformation, revolutions against monarchic governments, and nationalism.
- David McConnell Smyth patented one of the first sewing machines made for bookbinding in 1868. He invented the technique of sewing through the fold in a signature to create a strong binding. This technique is still used today and is known as Smyth Sewing.
- Smyth also invented a number of other machines that enabled mass production in the book binding industry, include gluing, trimming, case-making, and casing-in machines.
- Perfect binding was invented in 1895. However, it wasn’t used for book binding until 1931, when a publisher in Germany, Albatross Books, used perfect binding to make the first paperbacks. Penguin Books in England followed suit in 1935, and Pocket Books brought the trend to America in 1939.
- The first paperbacks used cold glues, which grew brittle over time. The DuPont Company invented the hot-melt adhesive binding process in the 1940s, which vastly improved the quality of paperbacks.