Research Gem: History of Printing Timeline

phillips-exeter-library-392400_1280Sebastian Kaine, the protagonist in my Guardians of the Seals seriesis a bookshop owner and amateur collector of rare books. In researching the background, one of the areas I focussed on was the history of printing and the various stages of its evolution.

Knowing something about book binding also played a role. The technical details had to be correct in order to convey a sense of honesty and time and place, which you’ll only achieve if you cover all aspects, including the tiniest of detail. For instance, I had to make sure that The Seals of Abgal, the book itself and the materials used to make the book, were true to the time period which dates to 10th century Byzantium. The origins of the Seals are further explored in The Morrigan.

Similarly, some of the books referred to in Seals, the real ones and the fictional ones, had to conform to a certain standard that is true to the era each one came from. Researching this part was fun. It was fun and interesting to go on a voyage of discovery, finding things out that you’ve never known before and to learn how cumbersome book production was at its infancy. F0CDE177-1CD9-4DC4-A0E3-D3BECD9E2441

Even the history of paper and ink became part of the discovery. It was important to know that calf and goat skin were used as parchment and that it was called vellum. Because vellum was so easily affected by changes in the environment and humidity the vellum sheets would buckle and so they were bounded by wooden boards and leather straps with metal clasps.

Or that ink, if prepared in a certain way, could be contained for a very long time without fading. Like I said, this was and still is, a remarkable journey.

If you follow the link below you’ll find an infographic timeline showing the history of printing.

Illuminating, yes, especially if you love books. Printing history timeline [infographic] | Ebook Friendly.


4 thoughts on “Research Gem: History of Printing Timeline

  1. I think researching is one of the joys of writing. You learn a lot of things you’d never imagined and it enriches you beyond the experience of writing (which is in itself enriching, in my opinion).

    I think the history of books and printing is one of the mor eintersting I can think of 🙂


  2. It is indeed. I love research, mostly because there is so much I don’t know and will never know. I am interested in our origins, how we evolved and adapted. How all of that experience informs us today. When I did research for Seals I studied architecture, antiquarian business models, rare book markets, old libraries, etc. For instance, the price tags referred to in Seals are real–those are the dollar value of rare books. Even the plot and backstory and history and origins of Sebastian’s bloodline are all rooted in a mixture of history, myth and fiction. I love blending fact and fiction, even if the story deals with supernatural things.

    Thanks for commenting.


  3. Love this! Very informative 🙂 And you’re right–so much behind-the-scenes meticulous research goes into our honest portrayals when it comes to historical fiction and fantasy.


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