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12 Unusual and Historical Facts on Printing
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In today’s busy, often hectic world, discovering interesting trivia can often be the respite you need to push on through your work day.  We hope you find these unusual printing tid-bits amusing if not educational! These intriguing, historical facts will definitely show you how the printing industry is leaving its mark. 



1. World’s Smallest Printed Book:

Measuring in at .0291 x .0295 inches, a 22 page Japanese book containing pictures of the flowers of the four seasons holds a Guinness World Book of Records entry for being the world’s smallest printed book. 





2. The Renaissance:

Because of the increased ability to disseminate information on various printed materials, the devout followers of the new philosophy known as Humanism utilized this medium to their advantage. Today, we commonly recognize the advancement of the printing press as largely contributing to the monumental cultural shift of human intelligence known as the Renaissance period.






3. Largest Number of Books Issued In One Publishing Run:

J.K. Rowling wrote the Harry Potter series and as it saw great popularity throughout the years, the seventh and final novel that received the most critical acclaim was Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. It sold 15 million copies in the first 24 hours following its release, and had an initial print run of 12 million copies, making it the largest initial print run ever





4. Largest Printed Catalog:

Remember how much excitement used to surround the publishing of the large department store catalogs? IKEA still thrills many of its loyal customers, but their large door-stoppers don’t compare to the behemoth released by Aviall Services Inc. in 2005. Their ‘Aviall Product and Catalog Book’ released on January 3, 2005, had 2,656 pages, and weighed in at 7.4 lb. and is 2.8 in. thick.




5. Oldest Printing Publishing House:

If you think most publishing houses like Random House and Penguin Group, have only been around for a couple of hundred years, think again. Cambridge University Press, the oldest printing and publishing house, has been around since 1534 and was started through a charter granted by the infamous Henry VIII. It’s been operating non-stop since the first book was printed in 1584, publishing over 2,000 books and 150 journals a year across 200 countries around the globe.





6. Oldest Surviving Printed Book:

The first mechanically printed book is arguably, but generally accepted to be, the Gutenberg Bible, printed in Germany around 1455. It was printed with moveable type. Through using carved wood plates and simple presses, the Chinese cultures were printing book like structures hundreds of years prior. The Buddhist “Diamond Sutra” dates back to 868 AD. 





7. 3D Printing:

The first 3D printer was created by Chuck Hull in 1984. 3D printing, also known as additive printing, was developed in the 80s, but it wasn’t until recently that it started taking off.






8. Expensive Ink:

The retail cost of black printer ink is one of the most expensive liquids on the planet, far exceeding oil and even space shuttle fuel (on a per gallon basis). As of Dec. 2015, black ink was running over $2,700 per gallon!






9. Civil War:

Small, portable printing presses were used by soldiers on the battlefields during the Civil War.






10. Propaganda Pamphlets:

During WWII, more than an estimated 12 million propaganda pamphlets were printed and dropped over Germany in hopes of inspiring the American and Allied soldiers on the battlefields while also demoralizing the Nazis.






11. Beware Old Children’s Books:

 Congress passed the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act in 2008 that prohibited the sale or lending of children’s books printed before 1985 unless those books are proven to not test positive for lead. Usually, these lead tests are expensive causing both libraries and used book stores to throw out such books rather than have them tested.






12. The Black Death:

Because of the massive amount of people who died in the Black Death (c. 1347), this episode in time became a major player in the evolution of the process of printing. The only methods for making books at that time was using parchment (sheepskin) or vellum (calfskin), which were very expensive. With the surplus of clothes inherited by the living, their old worn garments began to be used as “rag paper”. In addition, many of the bookmakers had passed away due to the plague. Because of the lack of people that had the knowledge of bookmaking, coupled with the mass production of the cheap “rag paper”, a better printing process began to be implemented.






As you can see, printers have been an integral part of the human experience for centuries, and they have only begun to leave their mark on the future. BIS Office Systems offers a free, no hassle, no obligation print evaluation and assessment of your workplace printing needs. Call us today at 251-476-3113 to schedule your appointment or contact us online here. Our managed document and print solutions allow businesses every day to reduce their overall print costs. Companies can rest assured knowing their partnership with us will keep their equipment running smoothly and their budget looking its best.

Adams, C. (Feb. 1, 2015). Did You Know…Fascinating Printing Facts.

Kasameyer, A. (Dec. 8, 2015). 10 Unusual Printing Facts That You’ve Never Heard Of



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