Book Editing looks at developments in the history
of book printing and publishing
A combination of many technological, economic, political, and cultural developments shaped the history of book printing and publishing between the 15th century and today. The timeline presented here is by no means complete. For example, it makes no mention of several advancements in printing-press technology, refinements to paper production, elimination of taxes on knowledge, changes in copyright laws, the rise of literacy, and shifting demographics of readership—to cite just some of the significant factors that influenced the history of the book. This timeline is selective and includes developments that intrigue me because of the way that technology and culture intersect. It will perhaps also be of interest to the author-clients of Book Editing, Helping You Get Published, and their editorial affiliates.
A selective timeline . . .
1455 The Gutenberg Bible is printed.
1476 The Caxton press is established in England; for the next 15 years, Caxton publishes many of the earliest English-language books, including Chaucer's Canterbury Tales.
1500 Printing presses are founded in more than 250 European cities.
1539 The first North American press is established in Mexico City.
1583 Cambridge University Press prints its first book.
1639 The first press in what will become the United States is founded in Cambridge, MA, and in 1640 prints a psalter known as "the Bay Psalm Book."
c. 1700 The first substantial books are printed from stereotyped plates.
c. 1720–1790 The early modern novel develops, notably through the works of Defoe, Fielding, Richardson, and Sterne.
1752 The first printing press arrives in the Canadian colonies.
1790 William Nicholson patents the cylinder printing press.
1798 William Stanhope builds the first iron press.
1800–1837 The popularity of the novel grows, due in large part to the works of Jane Austen and Sir Walter Scott.
1812 Friedrich Koenig perfects the first steam-powered cylinder press.
1824–1836 Small presses publish the first English-language books in what will become Canada.
1827 Cowper & Applegate develop the four-cylinder steam press.
1829 William Austin Burt invents the typewriter.
1837 The Victorian era begins, and novels become the dominant literary form of the age; notable authors include Charles Dickens, George Eliot, Thomas Hardy, and William Thackeray.
c. 1840 The electrotype printing process is developed.
1878 Remington introduces a typewriter featuring the shift key for uppercase letters.
1900 onward The modern novel (1900–1945) and the contemporary—a.k.a. postmodern—novel (1945–present) develop in many forms, widely influenced by such great events as the world wars, Depression, Cold War, space age, end of colonialism, and reshaping of Communism; by thinkers such as Darwin, Einstein, Freud, Marx, Nietzsche, and Sartre; and by major movements and shifts in consciousness, such as the sexual revolution, feminism, gay rights, and New Age spiritualism.
1900 onward Genre fiction, such as mystery, science fiction, and gothic romance, survive from the previous century; new genres and subgenres develop.
1935 Penguin spearheads the modern paperback revolution.
1938–c. 1960 Science fiction has a "golden age."
1957 The first Harlequin Romance is published, paving the way for romance to become the dominant fiction genre of the second half of the 20th century.
1969 An online network links four computers at UCLA, UCSB, Stanford, and University of Utah.
1974 The term Internet enters the vocabulary of online network specialists.
1975 IBM introduces the first laser printer.
1975 The first PC, the Altair 8800, goes on sale in kit form.
1981 The first IBM PC enters the marketplace.
1985 The desktop publishing revolution begins.
1991 Hypertext protocol goes online as the World Wide Web.
1995 Instabook applies for a print-on-demand (POD) technology patent.
1995 Amazon.com is launched.
c. 1995 The memoir emerges as "the genre du jour"; the number written far exceeds the capacity of the conventional book industry to publish them all.
1995 The indie book publishing revolution begins, with Trafford and a few other POD self-publishing services in the vanguard.
1998 Google is launched.
1998 Prototypes of today's ebooks are introduced into the market.
1999 HelpingYouGetPublished.com is launched to assist authors with the rapidly evolving book trade.
2001 onward In the wake of 9/11, interest rises in novels, commercial nonfiction, and memoirs that explore the deepest reaches of human nature
and culture through themes such as healing, faith, and spirituality; the self-publishing revolution continues.
2009 The self-publishing service conglomerate Author Solutions Inc. acquires Trafford; ASI is already operating such well-known brands as AuthorHouse, iUniverse, and Xlibris.
2011 Ebook sales outpace those of hardbacks in the overall US book trade.
2011 Ebooks outsell both hardbacks and paperbacks at Amazon.
2012 Penguin acquires Author Solutions.
2012 The Authors Guild admits self-published book authors.
2014 The Writers' Union of Canada (TWUC) votes to admit qualified self-published book authors.
Sources: Patricia Anderson, PhD, unpublished notes and research (1999-2012); Anderson, "Book Trade Trends—Hot and Not So" (2000; http://www.helpingyougetpublished.com/2000-4.html); Anderson, "Reflections on Getting Published in a Changed World" (2001; http://www.helpingyougetpublished.com/2001-7.html); "English-Language Book Publishing," (Canadian Encyclopedia.com, accessed 12/06/12); John Feather, A History of British Publishing (1988; 2006); "First Novel in English" (Wikipedia, accessed 12/01/12); Rare Book School, "Book History Timeline," (ENG 5933: History of the Book, Fall 2007, accessed 12/01/12).
Email editor Patricia Anderson, PhD . . .
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<p>Timeline courtesy of <a href="http://www.bookediting.ca/">Book Editing in the grand tradition of publishing . . .</a> Editorial services by book editor and author Patricia Anderson, PhD.</p>