So much about literature is magic. The ability to translate your thoughts into something tangible and shareable. The process of reading, of interpreting symbols on a page and mentally seeing a world blossom, of imbuing an author's words with your own perspectives. The act of sharing that so often occurs when you come across A Really Good Book, and, though it's often forgotten within the modern publishing dialogue, the art of making a book.
For many readers (myself included), the process of bookmaking has remained somewhat of a mystery. I'm often too busy burying my nose to consider, even for a moment, how "the book" came to be. As you may remember from history class, Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press in 1440; the Gutenberg Bible, published in 1455, is considered to be the first "printed book" in Europe made from moveable metal type. Though reading and writing had existed for centuries, the act of making a book - a transportable, relatively durable manuscript - standardized grammar and spelling, democratized art and knowledge, and led to an explosion of adult literacy levels. It changed the course of history.
Though many of the books we consume today are created by machines designed for mass distribution, there remain printers who make each book by hand. I, admittedly, tend towards irritation when people bemoan "the good old days" - isn't art supposed to evolve? - but watching this process is hypnotizing.
Like, I want only hand-printed books from now on.
Created by YouTuber Kraftsman Sheng, the video follows the birth of a book from its conception - the literal words - through the inking, the printing, the cutting of the pages...
The pressing, the binding, the sewing...
To the finishing touches of the cover.
More than anything else, it's a meditation on publishing. It's a reminder that art is a process, that it's more than the final product. That it's work - and the work is always worth it.
Watch the full video below: