The earliest printed book we know today appeared in China in the year 868, and metal type was in use in Korea at the beginning of the fifteenth century, but it was in Germany around the year 1450 that a printing press using movable metal type was invented.
Capitalism turned printing from an invention into an industry. Right from the start, book printing and publishing were organized on capitalist lines. The biggest sixteenth- century printer, Plantin of Antwerp, had twenty-four printing presses and employed more than a hundred workers. Only a small fraction of the population was literate, but the production of books grew at an extraordinary speed. By 1500 some twenty million volumes had already been printed.
The immediate effect of printing was to increase the circulation of works that were already popular in the handwritten form, while less popular works went out of circulation. Publishers were interested only in books that would sell fairly quickly in sufficient numbers to cover the costs of production and make a profit. Thus, while printing enormously increased access to books by making cheap, high-volume production possible, it also reduced choice.
The great cultural impact of printing was that it facilitated the growth of national languages. Most early books were printed in Latin, but the market for Latin was limited, and in its pursuit of larger markets the book trade soon produced translations into the national languages emerging at the time. Printing indeed played a key role in standardizing and stabilizing these languages by fixing them in print, and producing dictionaries and grammar books.
Questions 12 to 15 are based on the passage you have just heard.
Q12. What happened in Germany around the year of 1450?
Q13. What does the speaker say about the printer, Plantin of Antwerp?
Q14. What was the immediate effect of printing?
Q15. What was the great cultural impact of printing?