Sebastian Kaine, the protagonist in my Guardians of the Seals series, is 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.
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.