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For additional information on the preparation of early manuscripts, see writing.A more detailed examination of printing technology can be found in printing.In 1498, for instance, 18,000 letters of indulgence were printed at Barcelona.The market for books was still small, but literacy had spread beyond the clergy and had reached the emerging middle classes.Only in Hellenistic Greece, in Rome, and in China, where there were essentially nontheocratic societies, does there seem to have been any publishing in the modern sense—i.e., a copying industry supplying a lay readership. The reason may well lie in Arab insistence on hand copying of the Qurʾān (Arabic printing of the Qurʾān does not appear to have been officially sanctioned until 1825).
Writing was originally regarded not as a means of disseminating information but as a way to fix religious formulations or to secure codes of law, genealogies, and other socially important matters, which had previously been committed to memory.The history of publishing is characterized by a close interplay of technical innovation and social change, each promoting the other.Publishing as it is known today depends on a series of three major inventions—writing, paper, and printing—and one crucial social development—the spread of literacy.Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article.Join Britannica's Publishing Partner Program and our community of experts to gain a global audience for your work!
This article treats the history and development of book, newspaper, and magazine publishing in its technical and commercial aspects.