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Posted on April 19th, 2012, by

Manuscript culture existed till the invention of printing machines. In the beginning manuscripts mostly contained religious texts.  For many centuries the Church was the center of knowledge and different manuscripts were saved by religious people. Scripts were kept in the monasteries and monks kept and rewrote them. Other people could hardly have any access to these scripts. This situation lasted till the Middle Ages. Development of trade gradually resulted in the transition of manuscripts from Churches and Monasteries to the cities.  The rise of Universities also contributed to the development of manuscript culture. During this type manuscript culture became less dependant from the Church. In the cities appeared centers specialized on creating and rewriting scripts. Universities became the main source of Manuscript culture.

The invention press signified the end of manuscript era and gave beginning of printing era. Originally paper printed appeared in China. It was a complicated process which requested much effort. In the beginning religious and scientific texts were printed. Paper printing became widespread in Europe in the 15the Century. Johannes Gutenberg invented his famous printing press in 1450 and this resulted in quick increase of printing production. Invention of printing press resulted in the growth of literacy which had a serious impact on the political  and social consciousness of people. In the beginning of printing era this process was regulated by the state. For the first time written word became available for ordinary people. During  Early Ages, when manuscripts were controlled by monks and priests average people could hardly have access to these scriptures. In the Middle Ages the development of trade and science changed the function of scriptures. These now were used for business accounting and also contained scientific texts.

These scripts were too expansive to be available for ordinary people. Only rich people could afford buying scriptures.

Most of the average population was not literal. Ordinary people did not possess and opportunity to learn to read.

Only after the invention of printing press written word became available for all people. Cheap materials and big scale of production made printed materials available to all people. This resulted in quick growth of literacy level and finally grew to what was later called the Informational revolution. People got access to different sources of information. The first American printer Stephen Day together with his sons organized the first printing business in the United States in 1639.  It was hard to the printers to print works but governmental assistance and funding became a great help for them. Until 1769 American printers bought their presses from England, but thereafter they acquired their equipment and supplies, including ink and paper, domestically (Barker, 46).  In the 18th century newspapers became a great mean to influence human consciousness. In the beginning newspaper production was regulated by the state but later the situation changed and government lowed the pressure and control over printing industry. Local companies produced books and newspapers of different content. During the American Revolution newspapers became a mighty weapon of propaganda and to great extend the success of revolution can be explained by the printed information. During this period people were able to access different printed sources, such as brochures, newspapers, pamphlets, which helped them to form their own conscious opinion about the situation.

Despite the influence of the government was reduced during this time it did not disappear. The government still had a great impact on printing process. At that time the printing became a mean to bring different political ideas to people. It is evident that the government had the best access and influence on this process.  So called Federalist papers serve a good illustration of this influence. These papers were published in newly created American state in order to widespread different ideas among people. During this time not only newspapers became a popular source of information. Book trade grew in the United States during this time as well.    Printing industry quickly grew thanks to technical innovations.  Improved means of communication led to wider distribution, and a thirst for self-improvement and entertainment greatly expanded readership, leading to a rapid growth in every category of book from the scholarly to the juvenile (Katsh 113)

At the present moment book publishing is a profitable business.  Publishing houses which exist now have manufacturing and marketing departments. Editing is the most profitable practice of contemporary publishers.

Editors or sponsors help the authors to print their books and get percents of distribution. Editor’s function is also attracting the authors to the publishing houses. The editor often performs the function of a director of the company.

The owners of the publishing houses control the information they publish. These owners are mostly driven by profit and commercial success of their projects. This success is mostly defined by the testes of people and this way we may conclude that in the present moment public controls the information provided by publishing houses.

At the present moment we an see another important switch in the sources of information. Digital sources of information become more and more popular in the contemporary society. They make a serous competition to printed information and this tendency is likely to grow in the future. This will probably change the way of publishing industry, its role and functions.

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