In Johns’ introduction of The Nature of the Book: Print and Knowledge in the Making, Johns discusses with the creation and historical process that made “print culture.” His argument explains the importance of not just seeing the book as the object of print but focusing on the processes and labor that went in to printing it.
Within his argument there were a few key parts that presented his case most effectively. One was his focus on the text’s construction and how it is affected by certain social settings within the course of time. Johns declares that, “Any printed book is, as matter of fact, both the product of one complex set of social and technological processes and also the starting point for another” (p. 3). Johns is not just focusing on the book as the object in which text is the print culture but so is its author, agent, manufacturer, and time period. Not only is the book affected by its time and social practices but these are the things that helped develop print culture and by analyzing them it will help readers determine where this print culture When all these aspects are removed it is difficult to determine how print culture originated. A second part of his argument explained how the effects of piracy distorted knowledge within the printing process and destroying the credibility of its works. This keeps readers from assessing and relying upon texts for general knowledge. Johns says that, “A central element in the reading of a printed work was likely to be a critical appraisal of its identity and its credit” (p. 31). A third part of John’s argument was that although social context and historical background does affect the print culture the text itself does not affect the readers’ reactions. Their reactions are determined by the social context in which the text is apart of which, “…must be interpreted in cultural spaces that character of which helps to decide what counts as a proper reading” (p.20).
A few things that did confuse me were Johns’ reference to Einstein’s article and the differences in perspective when looking at “print culture.” Johns exemplifies the importance of the “juxtaposing texts” and what that means for drawing more knowledge from comparing texts but how did fixity free scholars from certain work? Johns says, “It was fixity that liberated them from such labor and thus made possible the progressive improvement of knowledge” (p. 10). Also, I was confused on the importance of Tycho and how his story played a role in the development of “print culture.” How did Tycho’s goals play a significance in print?