Something extraordinary happened at Mainz, Germany on this day in 1452. A goldsmith turned printer by the name of Johann Gutenberg started a print job. It was a big job, and took over two years to complete: The first verifiable book printed with moveable type. There are 24 letters in the Latin alphabet, but Gutenberg cast 47 different capital letters and 243 lower-case letters in matching the fine hand-lettered work of scribes. When you think about it, it's not surprising that a goldsmith would have the skill at casting to create type. I'm sure at the time he had know idea that his work would change the world.
In honor of this auspicious occasion, I have chosen some quotes about books below; I like them all however, my favorite is Tyron Edwards; it still rings true to this day.
Books are the legacies that a great genius leaves to mankind, which are delivered down from generation to generation as presents to the posterity of those who are yet unborn.
– Joseph Addison, 1672 – 1719
Only those books come down which deserve to last. All the gilt edges, vellum and morocco, all the presentation copies to all the libraries will not preserve a book in circulation beyond its intrinsic date.
– Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1803 – 1882
We should be as careful of the books we read, as of the company we keep. The dead very often have more power than the living.
– Tryon Edwards, 1809 – 1894
The reading of all good books is indeed like a conversation with the noblest men of past centuries who were the authors of them, nay a carefully studied conversation, in which they reveal to us none but the best of their thoughts.
– René Descartes, 1596 – 1650
But those dealing in the actual manufacture of mind are dealing in a very explosive material. The material is not merely the clay of which man is master, but the truths or semblances of truth which have a certain mastery over man. The material is explosive because it must be taken seriously. The men writing books really are throwing bombs.
– Gilbert Keith Chesterton, 1874 – 1936
From your parents you learn love and laughter and how to put one foot in front of the other. But when books are opened you discover you have wings.
– Helen Hayes, 1900 – 1993
If you would like to learn more about the Gutenberg Bible, the British Library has a wonderful interactive site; in which you can actually view both the paper and velum versions of the bible.