Introduction to Print Culture: Modern World, Impact, Censorship, Examples

The compilation of these Print Culture and the Modern World Notes makes students exam preparation simpler and organised.

Introduction to Print Culture

Do you know which was the first book ever to be commercially printed? It was a 42 line version of the Bible known as the Gutenberg Bible. It was printed in the 1450s and started the printing revolution and the print culture which became very significant in the history of mankind. Let us find out more about it.

Print Culture and the Modern World

The introduction of print technology was seen in China, Japan, and Korea. By the 17th Century, as modern culture emerged in China, the uses of print diversified. Shanghai, in fact, became the hub of the new print culture.

This was about China, similarly, the same culture was adopted by the people of Japan. Through China, Japan got enlightened with this technology. Buddhist missionaries from China introduced hand-printing technology into Japan.

In the 11th century, Chinese paper reached Europe via the silk route. In 1295, Marco Polo, a great explorer returned to Italy with complete knowledge of printing. Italians started printing books with woodblocks and soon technology reached every part of Europe.

With this exports of books started and Europe begun to send books to many different countries. But due to the fragile nature of manuscripts, they got very messy and awkward to handle. So in the 1430s, Johann Gutenberg invented new printing technology, creating the first known printing press at Strasbourg, Germany. The first book which Gutenberg printed was Bible in 1448.

The Print Revolution and its Impact
With time, a new culture emerged, and access to books made people adopt the reading culture. But with this several debates were put forward related to the fear of the spread of rebellious and irreligious thoughts. In 1517, the religious reformer Martin Luther wrote ‘Ninety-Five Theses’ which criticized various practices of the Roman Catholic Church. This lead to Protestant Reformation.

Because of the reading culture, the literacy rate of the countries increased to 60-80%. Newspapers and Journals got fame and information was carried about wars and trade as well as news of developments in other places. This included the French revolution too.

Print Culture

India and the World of Print
In the mid 16th century, the first printing press came to Goa through Portuguese missionaries. By 1674, more than 50 books were printed in Konkani and Karana languages. Next came the first Tamil book in 1579.

A literary firm developed in Europe and soon acquired Indian forms and styles. Other forms like lyrics, short stories, and essays about social and political matters also entered the world of reading.

Educated and liberal men started educating their wives and daughters at home. But still, some conservative Hindus thought that a literate girl would be widowed. Similarly, Muslims were frightened by the thought that women would be corrupted by reading Urdu romances.

Print and Censorship
Before 1798, the colonial state was not afraid of censorship that by the 1820s, the Calcutta Supreme Court passed certain regulations to control press freedom.

After the revolt of 1857, the attitude to freedom of the press completely changed. The Vernacular Press Act was passed which provided the government extensive rights to censor reports and journals in the vernacular press. But even after such massive measures, nationalist newspapers grew in numbers in all parts of India.


Printing created possibilities for a wider circulation of ideas. Who of the following hailed printing as the ultimate gift of God?
a. Martin Luther
b. Gutenberg
c. Roman Catholic Church
d. All of the above
The correct answer is option “a”.
Through the publications of his Protestant ideas, Martin Luther challenged the orthodox practices of the Roman Catholic Church. His publications were very vastly distributed and led to his success. This was impossible without printing technology. Deeply grateful to the print Luther famously said “Printing is the ultimate gift of God and the greatest one”.