Tag Archives: Gutenberg

What is all this noise about WordPress 5 and Gutenberg?


There is a moment in every author’s life when the question of having a web site becomes a hot topic. Most book publishing marketers recommend authors to have a dedicated personal or book related web site.

When it comes to online publications – blogs, personal web pages, business sites, news publications, you name it – the most popular online publishing system is WordPress. However, WordPress is going through a big change that affects existing web sites and new publications that use it. This article outlines what WordPress 5 means for people who already use, or are planning to use WordPress for their online publications.
Wordpress mug, 15 years
WordPress 5 was made available in early December 2018. The thing that makes it important for everyone dealing with this publication system is that version 5.0 was the first step into a new kind of WordPress. Eventually, designing web sites, coding new functionality, and writing content will change in WordPress.

First, the writing tool (editor) changed into a new kind of text editor where everything is made of blocks. A heading is a block, a paragraph is a block, an image is a block, and so on. It is not an intuitive way of writing for authors who are used to text processing applications, like Word, LibreOffice or Pages. The good news is that it is perfectly fine to write a blog post or another page in a familiar word processor, copy-paste the text into the new writing tool known as Gutenberg, and hit publish.

Two main methods of getting a personal WordPress web site that you control are signing up to the WordPress.com service, or running your own web site on a server hosted by an internet service provider.

Having a web site at WordPress.com means you don’t have to worry about operating or administering the system, but focus on writing new posts, inserting new photographs, or changing colors on the pages. There are limits what can be customized, but for simple blogs and homepages, the limitations are not meaningful.

Running your own WordPress web site on a hosted server means you must know something about web servers, databases, and the technology of WordPress. The possibilities to customize the site are practically endless. The actual software can be downloaded from WordPress.org. This option often lets you set up multiple sites, if that is something you need.

Independent of the way a WordPress 5 web site has been activated, it is possible to add new functions (plugins), change the layout and look of the pages (themes), and tweak many settings of the publication.
letters on heads of metal arms in typewriter
Since WordPress is in the process of reinventing itself, it is important to take the following into account if you already have, or are planning to start a web site:

A. If you are new to WordPress, forget the confusing talk that concerns versions prior to 5.0. Go directly to version 5, and stay there.
B. If you already have a WordPress site, the long-term strategy should be version 5 and Gutenberg, but be careful when you go there. This article has good tips for everyone wondering what to do with version 5 and the Gutenberg editor.

All and all, WordPress is much more than a simple blogging tool or a site for a simple homepage. That is why it has a learning curve for anyone who is not familiar with web technologies, but it grows with you wherever your journey takes you.

Gutenberg’s printing press revolutionized book business just like ebooks are doing now


Johannes Gutenberg was a German inventor who managed to put together multiple pieces of existing technologies in order to create something totally new. His invention was the printing press where he applied paper, ink, type and a human-operated press. He had invented a system that made it possible to copy books quickly and economically.

It happened more than 500 years ago, but considerable improvements to Gutenberg’s invention were made only when new types of printing mechanisms were invented in the 20th century. The introduction of computers and ebooks have revolutionized the business of printing once more. The possibility to use computers to create books with a global network to deliver them to readers across the world has once again made it possible to copy books more quickly and economically than ever before.

How did the original printing press work? Here is a video recorded at the Crandall Historical Printing Museum where an expert demonstrates how the Gutenberg-era printing press works:

The demonstration didn’t show what happened before ink was applied to the plate where the types were set. Wooden or metal types had been carved as mirror images of letters and numbers. Every letter on a page is represented by a type, and every type was set on a plate in reverse order.

For instance, take a look at the plate below that was carved for printing the Popeye cartoon onto a newspaper’s comics page. The plate is a mirror image of what appeared on the newspaper. The plate is made of iron, so someone had to carve the images and texts into the plate. Once the newspaper was printed, the unique plate that had required a lot of handwork could be thrown away.

That’s how we discovered the cartoon plate. Years ago, a printing house was handing out old printing plates to visitors at a book show. It was in Sweden – that’s why the text in the Popeye cartoon is Swedish (if you were wondering).
print plate for popeye cartoon

The Evolution of Publishing Is both Technology and Business Development


Technology that enables publishing in a large scale, to mass markets, was innovated by Johannes Gutenberg more than 500 years ago. His greatest innovation was to create a whole system from existing technologies developed by other people. From there on, the evolution of publishing has been as much business development as it has been technology development.

For instance:
– Newspapers developed in late 18th century and 19th century as literacy improved and people moved to cities.
– Before newspapers, primarily books and religious material was printed.
– Steam powered printing press was invented in 1843. Printing of books and newspapers became faster and more economical, making them available to wider audiences.
– The first steps towards digital technology in publishing industry were taken in 1980s and 1990s when Apple introduced the Macintosh computer and desktop publishing. This combination made it both affordable and reasonably easy to design and layout the printed paper or book on a computer screen before actually printing it.
– The Internet boom in late 1990s and early 2000s introduced the first ebooks to audiences, but digital books weren’t ready for mass markets yet.
– It was Amazon that understood (like Gutenberg) that there must be a whole end-to-end system in place before the product is ready for wide adoption. Amazon introduced the Kindle and Whispersync in 2007.

View more details on the evolution of publishing in the following infographics created by Searchnewsmedia.co.uk.

publishing evolution from Gutenberg to digital