Yes, it's pricey, or as they say here in Minnesota, "spendy!"
I remembered from some English course that included some history of
the novel, publishing, printing, etc., as you noted, that books at
first were too costly for the unwealthy.
Before mass-production printing techniques developed, the course's
text noted, that illustrations were a huge problem, because most were
re-drawn versions of earlier versions; each generation and artist
introduced new, unique, and creative errors and distortions that
sooner or later had no inkling of their original sources. (It took a
few hundred more years for the photocopy machine to introduce the same
kind of failure of copying.)
For this reason, pictureless copies of scientific materials that were
well-written by accurate observers were considered more accurate,
because even illiterate copyists could get the words right, whether
they were transcribed well or poorly.
Later, it went on, as the spread of mass-produced religious printed
materials, the graphics problem still was problematic. Woodcuts were
costly to create, but the invention of conditional variables for
graphics solved the problem! The garments of religious figures were
shown as generically religious garb. However, the faces needed to be
different for each group, so the woodcuts were made with empty holes
for faces. The holes were plugged with blocks that printed specific
faces and headgear for each market.
I always thought this was pretty cool, but in reading through Meggs'
"History of Graphic Design," 3rd ed., a book that's almost as
painstakingly researched and compiled as the St John's Bible <G>,
there's no mention of this "rubber-stamp" technology in his coverage
of the evolution of graphic communication from the beginnings of
language through written and printed forms, media, methods, and
technologies. Was I misled early on by that old course material?
On 6/20/07, Daniel Doornbos <danield at promise.com> wrote:
> I did not know about the Saint John's Bible project.
> And as soon as I read about it online I wanted one.
> Until I saw the $115,000 price tag.
> That reflects the situation in the days before the printing press, when
> only the wealthy could afford books.
> Thanks for the link.