The process of printing involves the transfer of an image from a movable plate or type to paper. The process is also known as lithography, from the Greek for “drawing on stone.” In lithography, the artist draws the image on a block of stone, although nowadays this process is done on a metal plate. Originally, the drawing is made with greasy ink, which is washed away by gum arabic, a naturally occurring gum derived from the sap of the acacia tree. The result is a mirror image of the original design on the printing plate.
The evolution of information technology has resulted in a number of new mediums for the transmission of information. Television and radio pictures report on the facts of the moment, while printed documents allow for reflection. In addition to its advantages in transmitting information, printing is still a common medium of communication, with applications in packaging, textiles, and even miniature electronic circuitry. However, some observers have suggested that the days of printing are numbered. It is unlikely to be completely replaced, but it will continue to evolve with other means of information storage.
Historically, the role of a master printer was replaced by a bookseller-publisher. As a result, jobs associated with printing were increasingly specialized. The role of the Master Printer in Europe fell into disfavour during this period, and the role of the bookseller-publisher replaced it. The commercial imperative of printing became clear during this period, and bookseller-publishers would negotiate with the public at print shops and trade fairs.