As an extension of stone carvings, calligraphy, and hand-painted illustrations, printing began as a means of disseminating cultural and religious artifacts to elite audiences, but it soon developed larger readerships as it both benefited from and fostered more widespread literacy. This entry traces the development of printing, from its initial role as the first consumer-oriented, mass-production process capable of creating identical copies using interchangeable parts to that of a facilitator and promoter of the Industrial Revolution, mass consumer culture, advertising, marketing, and the eventual enthronement of upper-middle-class personal lifestyle as the epitome of culture and taste.

Although many in the West think of Johannes Gutenberg as the inventor of the printing press, printing, even with movable type, has an older provenance in Asia. Around the time ...

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