Power of the printed word

We visited the Huntington Library yesterday. It was raining, so we spent most of the time indoors. I took a picture of the Gutenberg Bible:

As an artifact, it’s beautiful. “Book” in those days meant a carefully crafted manuscript that included decorations, such as the drop cap initial letters and floral illustrations in the margins. Even though the main text was printed, this Bible looks quite similar to the handwritten books on display nearby. For instance, here is a handwritten (and annotated) collection of the works of Cicero:

They literally don’t make them this way anymore. In fact books are so incredibly cheap to manufacture, that you can’t even give them away these days. The little free libraries in our neighborhood are packed with rejected books.

Oddly books authored their own demise. I real almost everything on my Kindle which is a device that was invented because of advancements in science and technology that were achieved because of the availability of knowledge facilitated by abundance of printed books.