Printing is the process of mass reproducing text or images using a master form or template. It is a technique for creating a printed image from a matrix, which could be an intaglio plate, relief woodblock, or lithographic stone; it is also used to create planographic images such as screenprint and lithography.
The development of European movable type printing technology in 1440 was a major change in the way information was transferred and published. It marked the end of the era of handwritten manuscripts and made possible the creation of books.
During the early days of printing, shops were owned and operated by master printers who selected and edited manuscripts, determined the sizes of their print runs, sold the works they produced, raised capital, organized distribution, and dealt with printing problems. These shop owners often employed apprentices between the ages of 15 and 20 to learn the trade.
They were responsible for the design, preparation of inks, damping of sheets of paper and running the presses. They also supervised the work of their assistants.
From the late sixteenth century on, printing was a specialized industry. The role of master printers became less emphasized as publishers negotiated at trade fairs and took over many of the tasks of the print shops, including jobbing work, where printers did menial jobs to support themselves in the beginning of their careers.