Title: Gutenberg’s Fingerprint: Paper, Pixels and the Lasting Impression of Books
Author: Merilyn Simonds
Hardcover: ISBN-13: 978-1770413528, $24.95
Imprint: Toronto: ECW Press, 2017
Four seismic shifts have rocked human communication: the invention of writing, the alphabet, mechanical type and the printing press, and digitization. Poised over this fourth transition, e-reader in one hand, perfect-bound book in the other, Merilyn Simonds — author, literary maven, and early adopter — asks herself: what is lost and what is gained as paper turns to pixel?
Gutenberg’s Fingerprint trolls the past, present, and evolving future of the book in search of an answer. Part memoir and part philosophical and historical exploration, the book finds its muse in Hugh Barclay, who produces gorgeous books on a hand-operated antique letterpress. As Simonds works alongside this born-again Gutenberg, and with her son to develop a digital edition of the same book, her assumptions about reading, writing, the nature of creativity, and the value of imperfection are toppled.
Gutenberg’s Fingerprint is a timely and fascinating book that explores the myths, inventions, and consequences of the digital shift and how we read today.
“In a mix of historical inquiry and technological experiment, Simonds (The Convict Lover) creatively grapples with the meaning of the paradigm shift that has transformed words pressed onto paper into digital pixels on screens . . . Simplicity of narration, curious facts, and the personal angle of the story will fascinate book lovers from beginning to end, no matter whether they are devoted to print or to digital, or move between the mediums.” ― PublishersWeekly.com
“Gutenberg’s Fingerprint is well-timed and does for our books what Margaret Visser’s Much Depends on Dinner did for the food on our plates: Each ingredient is revealed in all its complicated glory, with sections on paper, type, ink, presses and finished books . . . Gutenberg’s Fingerprint is a love letter to an ancient craft – but it is also, and more importantly, a reminder that the briefest way to get your story out there might not be the truest.” ― Globe and Mail
“Simonds wraps an on-the-scene report on choosing type, ink, paper, endpapers, and bindings around an entertaining history of book production and reading . . . a surprisingly fun read.” ― Booklist
“My copy of Gutenberg’s Fingerprint bristles with post-it notes, reminders of passages that I wish to remember far down the road . . . Gutenberg’s Fingerprint is a gift for all readers including those of us who love books.” ― Owen Sound Sun-Times