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Paige Shelton | The Printing Press and Where Books Come From

January 21, 2016

In the first book of my new Dangerous Type mystery series you’ll meet Clare Henry and her grandfather, Chester. Chester opened his shop, The Rescued Word, back in the 1950s. Along with repairing typewriters, Chester had a vision: he wanted to save all kinds of words, including those in books. He decided to learn how to repair books, bring them back to their original glory. This included mastering how to reprint badly damaged and unsalvageable pages.

Back in the 1950s there were no personal computers that might help with this task. Besides, it would have gone against Chester’s ways to use something like a computer to repair an old book. He wanted his own printing press, and he wanted one of the best. Of course, owning an original Gutenberg press would have been out of reach, so he decided to build his own – a perfect Gutenberg replica.

A quick look back in time – clay tablets were probably the first books. From there, books took on many different forms with their pages being made of things like papyrus, bone, wood, silk, and parchment. Paper was invented in China around the first century A.D. For a time during the dark ages, silent monks would copy books. They weren’t allowed to correct their own mistakes (some historians believe this is because they were illiterate, and couldn’t read what they were copying) which is why the amount of errors grew as more manuscripts were copied.

The first moveable type printing presses appeared in Asia almost a thousand years ago with ceramic type (letters). It was Johannes Gutenberg, a goldsmith, who created the first press in the West for the Roman Empire around the year 1440. Gutenberg used metallic types and adapted screw presses to create his printing system. He created his own hand mold into which the liquid metal would be poured to create the type as it cooled and hardened. This was the beginning of the mechanization of bookmaking which led to the mass production of books in Europe. The world was changed. In fact, in the early 1600s English philosopher Frances Bacon said that printing was one of the three inventions that changed the world. Incidentally, the other two were gun powder and the compass.

They don’t pour their own molds at The Rescued Word, but with their typeface collections, they can reproduce almost any page from any book ever printed. Inside The Rescued Word, visitors and customers from all over the world can also have their old typewriters brought back to life, or find fine papers and writing instruments. There’s no sort of word that Chester and Clare can’t save.

We hope to see you there.

Thanks for letting me post today, and see you in the bookstores.

About Paige Shelton

Paige Shelton

Paige Shelton was born in Nevada, Missouri, but wasn’t there long.

After a childhood full of many moves, and high school and college in Des Moines, Iowa, she landed in Salt Lake City, Utah. There she met and married her husband, had a son, and worked at a variety of advertising-like jobs.

She can’t remember a time when she didn’t want to be a writer and loves every moment she spends with her characters and their mysterious ways.

Series include: Farmers’ Market Mystery | Country Cooking School | Dangerous Type



To Helvetica and Back

The New York Times bestselling author of the Farmers’ Market Mysteries and the Country Cooking School Mysteries introduces readers to Star City, Utah, and a little shop called the Rescued Word…

Star City is known for its slopes and its powder. But nestled in the valley of this ski resort town is a side street full of shops that specialize in the simple charms of earlier eras. One of those shops is the Rescued Word, where Chester Henry and his adult granddaughter Clare lovingly repair old typewriters and restore old books. Who ever thought their quaint store would hold the key to some modern-day trouble?

When a stranger to town demands they turn over an antique Underwood typewriter they’re repairing for a customer, Clare fears she may need to be rescued. A call to the police scares the man off, but later Clare finds his dead body in the back alley. What about a dusty old typewriter could possibly be worth killing for?

Buy TO HELVETICA AND BACK: | Kindle|| iTunes/iBooks | Kobo | Google Play | Powell’s Books | Books-A-Million | Indiebound | Amazon CA | Amazon UK | Amazon DE | Amazon FR

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