Incunabula - Early Printed Books
The 1439 invention of the printing press with moveable type by Johannes Gutenberg (ca. 1400-68) was one of the most important events in world history with both immediate and long-term ramifications.
It was a boon at a time when book production and literacy were already on the rise in Europe. Gutenberg’s invention decreased the cost of books by increasing the rate of their production exponentially. Aside from serving as a catalyst for the dissemination of knowledge, printed books contributed to the spread of literary culture.
A book printed before 1501 is called an incunabulum (plural: incunabula), which is Latin for “swaddling clothes” or “cradle” and a reference to the fact that printing was then in its infancy. However, this dating is rather arbitrary, and this first generation of book printing can be more accurately dated as ending sometime between 1520 and 1540, during which time books became more standardized.