A Page about the History of Printing


Have you ever happened to wonder what produces and makes visible the letters, words, shapes, and patterns on the pages of the physical books we read today (and have been reading for centuries)? What does the word ‘print’ mean to you? Give it a thought. Printed materials are commonplace items in the twenty-first century: our tiny world abounds with books, newspapers, posters, pamphlets, and the like. But when and how did this ‘technology,’ which allows words and images designed in the mind to be transposed to paper, originate?

Let’s begin with the printing press. The innovation of the printing press by Johannes Gutenberg in the mid-fifteenth century is hailed as one of the greatest inventions of humankind, and with good reason. Gutenberg is said to have invented the printing press that employed mechanical metal movable type printing technology, which used individual metal block letters that could be arranged, rearranged, aligned, and spaced in what is called a forme (a flat stone that holds the loose letters of the page in place inside a steel frame), enabling the ink to transfer evenly to the paper.

Related image

 Gutenberg’s Printing Press (http://vrworld.com/2014/08/17/week-history-gutenbergs-bible/)

 At the outset, Gutenberg’s creation received backlash from the well-heeled in Europe: they preferred handwritten manuscripts, which evinced wealth and luxury. Over time, as word spread about the printing press, Europe witnessed the growth of a new trade. Printed texts, mass-produced, became an incredible way (cheap and convenient) of distributing information and knowledge throughout Europe. This creation eventually birthed the Printing Revolution, ushering in the transformative potentials of print technology. In more ways than one, the printing press shaped the world as we know it, revolutionising education for the masses, communication, the creation of ideas, and the dissemination of information.

A Forme (wikipedia.org)

However, if we were to move further back in time, we would see that woodblock printing was probably the earliest printing technique. The first movable type printing method was developed in China in the eleventh century by Bi Sheng, a Chinese artisan–making him the inventor of the movable type. Interestingly, the oldest extant book that was printed using metal movable type is a Korean document on Buddhism, called the Jikji, printed in 1377.

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Woodblock Printing (top)

The Jikji (bottom)

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Print lovers can find out more about the fascinating origins of printing in Asia, such as our comic book, Origins of Chinese Science & Technology, and the more detailed reference book, Chinese Science and Technology.


Early moveable-type printing, illustrated by Fu Chunjiang (Origins of Chinese Science & Technology)

Even in today’s screen-saturated world, it is important that we recognise the cultural, social, and political power of printing. Even the simple act of putting words to a tangible artefact and creating a dazzling assemblage of straight lines and curves gives meaning to our art, our livelihood, and our existence.


Works Cited:

  1. Elverskog, Johan. “The Gutenberg Fallacy and the History of Printing among the Mongols.” Tibetan Printing: Comparison, Continuities, and Change, edited by Hildegard Diemberger et al., Brill, LEIDEN; BOSTON, 2016, pp. 21–37. JSTOR,
  2. https://www.advantagebookbinding.com/blog/book-binding/things-didnt-know-history-book-binding/
  3. https://www.psprint.com/resources/printing-press/
  4. (https://www.richardpennington.com/2017/03/and-so-my-campaign-to-bring-jikji-back-to-korea-comes-to-an-end/)
  5. (https://www.pinterest.com/pin/478014947919983132/)



StoryFest 2019: Make Believe

How do words we see printed black and white on books come alive to conjure up a whole range of images and emotions in our minds? How do strings of words transport us to another world, another era, another dimension?

Through storytelling, of course!

Storytelling has always been an integral counterpart to words and books. From the 21st to 24th of June 2019, StoryFest 2019, an event to showcase the art of storytelling, will take place and Asiapac Books is excited and proud to be partnering with StoryFest 2019 to bring books to the storytelling audience!

Presented by The Storytelling Centre Limited and The Arts House, StoryFest is an annual festival that celebrates and showcases a variety of styles, repertoire and cultural arts presentations of storytelling from Singapore and around the world. With the theme of ‘Make Believe’, StoryFest 2019 invites audiences to be open to new experiences and to allow their imagination to soar as they listen to stories that are beyond belief.


StoryFest 2019 Poster

Some highlights in the Asian premieres include the epic poem of Gilgamesh, the life story of Frida Kahlo as well as Celtic and Italian legends. Family audiences will be delighted by South American jungle folktales and partake in storytelling with music. The festival also features local commissions – the Young Storytellers Showcase ‘The Wings of Love’ presenting emerging storytelling talents, and The Singapore Showcase ‘Make Believe’ featuring storytelling and spoken word artists.Through workshops and masterclasses by practitioners from Singapore and global experts, participants can identify the various ways of using applied storytelling in their daily life or in their work space.

For the first time the festival presents a visual storytelling exhibition, closely linked to mythology and symbolism in narratives. Continuing with the theme of expanding upon the visual art and storytelling, StoryFest 2019 has workshops on “The Doll Maker’s Narrative” and effigy making that focus on the process of crafting narratives through a secondary medium.


Asiapac Books booth during StoryFest media preview

Asiapac Books will also be having a booth to share the love of reading books to the StoryFest audience. We will be bringing in many children’s books from various publishers, alongside our very own publications such as “Journey to the West” and “Once Upon a Singapore…Traders”. This is a fantastic opportunity for you and your children to immerse yourselves in the wonderful world of myths, magic and stories.

So what are you waiting for? Come join us at StoryFest 2019: Make Believe from 21st June to 24th June at the Arts House (Old Parliament House)! See you there!

For more info on the full programme, click on the link provided below.

Venue: The Arts House

Address: 1 Old Parliament Lane, Singapore 179429

Event Website: StoryFest

Date: 21–24 Jun 2019



  1. StoryFest 2019 Official Website: https://storyfestsg.com/2019