QOTM: A day in the life of Johannes Gutenberg

By Anna Wilson (Communications Officer of YEM UK)

It seems my printing press is a success! Right now, I am using the ingenious idea of moveable type to write this message so it can be distributed quickly and cheaply to the masses. Without meaning to brag, life in Europe has changed dramatically since I created my invention – and to think, it’s based on the simple design of a wine press! I have a feeling that it will revolutionise the continent, if not the world.

Because I can now literature in huge quantities without the need for an expensive scribe, books, leaflets and Bible passages are now available to even the poor. I’ve noticed literacy rates creeping up – just yesterday, I saw a group of peasants gathered around whilst another read aloud from a pamphlet. Ideas are really starting to spread.

I try to stay humble, but I also believe that I have started a new age of ideas! I am now able to mass-produce scientific texts, meaning that more people have access to them. More and more people are developing these concepts and now we have the beginnings of an information explosion. We should give this a name – the Renaissance, maybe? Nah. I’ll think about it.

Politics has also seen a shift thanks to my inventions. “Posters are a thing now – it’s very cheap and easy to print some simple information on a single sheet and display it in a public place. As well as this, sheets containing news are also in circulation. Maybe one day they shall be called “newspapers”? Who knows? Not sure it’ll catch on. Anyway, an increasing number of common people are becoming engaged in politics – they are asking questions and becoming more aware of the decisions of their leaders. I wonder where this will lead.

Oh! I almost forgot! My copy of the Bible is selling really well. Before my printing press, only rich middle classes could afford to pay a scribe to make them a copy, but now, I can churn them out quickly and easily and make sure that the Bible is more accessible to all. Extracts from the Bible are also proving popular. Perhaps I’m paving the way for some kind of pan-European Protestant revolution? Haha!

European traders have a lot to thank me for. Because books are so rare and sought-after outside of the Holy Roman Empire, new trade links are being formed. Maybe this kind of interdependence will one day lead to a customs union or something.

Well, it’s all very well and good for European traders, literacy rates and religion, but I’m certainly not benefiting from my invention! MY business partner is suing me and I’m pretty sure I’m going to die penniless. I hope that one day I will at least have the recognition I deserve…