How the Modern Book Evolved


Howthe Modern Book Evolved


Howthe Modern Book Evolved

Modernismdescribes the reforms in cultural movements in art, architecture,music, literature, and applied arts that emerged before 1914. Thismeans that modernism can be described as a process that led to thedevelopment of innovations in various fields over time. Innovationsin these fields were driven by the liberalism and self-consciousnesswhere individuals were free to experiment their own sense of style. Abook is a set of written, printed, or blank pages put together,fastened on one side, and bound in covers. Designing a book refersto art of gathering content, format, design, and the sequence ofvarious parts of a book into one consistent and intact piece. Thispaper aims at defining how design has changed with time and society.

Evolutionof the Modern Book

Theevolution of the modern book design comes a long way, starting fromthe vibrant laminations of gold leaf. The book of Kell is regarded asone of the earliest books to have ever been written. This book is anilluminated manuscript, which was written in Latin and dates back toca. 800 AD. The manuscript pages have been enlivened by lively colorsand figures of animals and humans. This book was more of art than aneducative material that describes the four gospels in the NewTestament. The words that were in these manuscripts were also intact,leaving no space between the words. Over time, the Celtics introduceddecorative initials and space between the words, an aspect that wasnot in the previous manuscripts.

JohannesGutenberg is regarded as the pioneers in book printing whose idea ofcreation of a printable book came into fruition in 1452. Gutenbergintroduced a printing press that replaced hand written materials andmade it possible for wide production of books. With an emergence of aliterate middle class and students in growing numbers of institutesof learning, a wider market was created and the demand for readingmaterials grew. Writing had given humanity an important means ofstoring, retrieving, and documenting knowledge and informationtranscending time and place thus, topography printing allowed theeconomical and multiple production of the textual communication. TheGuttenberg Bible, also referred as the 42-line Bible was the firstmajor book to be printed using the new Gutenberg’s moveable typeprinting press. It marked the start of printed books and peoplepraised its artistic and visual (SF-Book Review, 2014). By 1500,printing was made available in over 140 towns in Europe withtopography printing helping cut to down the cost of handwritten books(Meggsand Purvis, 2011).

Therenaissance of classical literature and the works of Italianhumanists brought an innovative approach to book design. The Italianscholars came up with the type design, the layout of the page,ornaments to be included, illustrations and the total design of thebook. They also came up with the early prototype of the Romanalphabets design and the coarse decorative boarders of the earlyFrench books. The Italians rethought about page layout, type ofdesign, and illustration of the book. In 1501, the need for small andeconomical books was addressed. This led to the changing of the fontof the words. The Italians also found that it was tedious to look forinformation in a book, thereby deciding to include page numbers. Itis evident that the Italians contributed greatly to the developmentof features of the modern book (HarryRansom Center, 2013).

Theindustrial revolution led to social and economic changes in the roleof typographic communication. The emergence of various productsencouraged marketing, thereby expanding production of writingmaterial into the advertising and posters (Meggsand Purvis, 2013). There was high demand for abstract visual forms pressuring theevolution of printers. Correspondingly, press printers expanded itsdesign possibilities and introduced new types of designs innineteenth century. The arts and craft movements inspired free willdesign, which commissioned new designs of woodblock ornaments,initials, and illustrations (HarryRansom Center, 2013).Concurrently, designers had control over the format’s design,selection type, illustrations, and other visual considerations oftheir books. The production of books was done under writer’ssupervision, creating a cordial relationship between the designer andthe publisher (Meggsand Purvis, 2011). This meant that even though the content of the book was for thewriter, it required the skill of the publisher to refine the designof the book in making it more appealing to the reader.

Bynineteenth century, there was high production of books and coverdesigns, and every designer used different elements of design andtypography that enticed the reader to purchase the book. In 1832, thefirst novel was written, and its birth spread written word alongsidegrowth in education. In 1985, the first book was published in a CDdue to advanced technology. This major advancement led to thedevelopment of the idea on uploading books over the interent, andread as soft copies (Novin, 2013).

Insummary, books have come a long way in being the way we see them asof date. The first books used manuscripts and were handwritten. By1450, Gutenberg introduced printing press where woodblockillustrations and typographic texts were being used as the readingmaterial. The Italians introduced page numbers, page layout, andillustration. Industrial revolution commercialized the book industrysince design of writing was required to market the various productsthat were being produced at the time in advertisements. Withcontinued advancements in the 19thand 20thcentury, it has been possible to even have a softcopy of a book overthe internet or a mobile device.


HarryRansom Center. (2013). PrintingYesterday and Today.Retrieved From:

Meggs,P. B., &amp Purvis, A. W. (2011). Meggs`history of graphic design.New York: Wiley.

Novin,G. (2013). AHistory of Graphic Design.Retrieved From:


SF-BookReview. (2014). Theevolution of the book.Retrieved From: