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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Chappell's "Short History" is Lively and Thorough
A thoroughly enjoyable read on the people, places, and things that make up the history of type and publishing. Warren Chappell's book was revised and appended by noted author Robert Bringhurst and this book is the perfect complement to Bringhurst's own "Elements of Typographic Style". The content is alive with names, significant facts, technological...
Published on June 18, 2000 by Peccator

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great information if you can overlook printing errors
This book was on my wish list for several months before I finally purchased it. The author walks you through the history of printing by each century, noting improvements, significant advances, and set backs along the way. Governments rarely adapt quickly to new technologies and the most interesting parts of the book covered how governmental views towards printing...
Published on August 15, 2010 by Doug Pratt


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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Chappell's "Short History" is Lively and Thorough, June 18, 2000
By 
Peccator (Phoenix, AZ United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: A Short History of the Printed Word (Paperback)
A thoroughly enjoyable read on the people, places, and things that make up the history of type and publishing. Warren Chappell's book was revised and appended by noted author Robert Bringhurst and this book is the perfect complement to Bringhurst's own "Elements of Typographic Style". The content is alive with names, significant facts, technological contributions, and lots of good illustrations. This is an amazing book that is well-written and historically significant, and the authors fill in all of the gaps on the history of type and printing. The short history they describe is concise and thorough. The only disappointment is Bringhurst's final chapter on "The Digital Evolution and the Close of the Twentieth Century", where he completely overlooks the significant contributions of the people and technologies in the digital age and opts instead to explore the work of a few small private presses. Also, how can one brief summary chapter hope to describe the accomplishments of the last thirty years? Sadly, Bringhurst missed a real opportunity to provide a keen insight on the digital revolution and its impact on the printed word. All the same, this is a "must have" book for typographers, type designers, and typophiles.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best intro to the history of printing, August 8, 2004
This review is from: A Short History of the Printed Word (Paperback)
Chappell and Bringhurst have put together an informative, enjoyable book on printed text. It starts with a brief history of writing in general, then of the Roman alphabet now used for most European languages. Along the way, we see a few hints about the history of page layout and other typographic concerns. The book devotes a few pages to the skilled craft of punch-cutting, of carving the steel stamps that represented the master copies from which metal type was replicated.

That just sets the stage, though. The next 250 pages or so cover the history of printed text in Europe and the New World. It's an amazing journey, filled with rich characters. Gutenberg was only one of those characters, and his bankruptcy played a surprising role in the spread of printing. Chappell followed through, era by era, until the start of photocomposition, somewhat after WWII. Bringhurst added the section on computer typesetting and all-electronic fonts, bringing the story quite up to date.

Bringhurst has done an elegant, seamless job of updating Chappell's original work. This is a posthumous collaboration that actually works, to my happy surprise. The book tells a coherent story in a very readable way, without bogging down in pedantic detail. The history of print can't really be told in just 300 pages, but this is an outstanding summary. It provides the framework and structure for the full story. Interested readers will look elsewhere to furnish the framework with detail, but will keep coming back to give context to those finer points.

With Bringhurst as collaborating author, you know that this book has to be a joy to read, both in its prose and in the structure of the physical book itself. I suggest it to anyone interested in typography, printing, or history in general.

//wiredweird
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a must read, June 19, 2003
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This review is from: A Short History of the Printed Word (Paperback)
The book is a great source of information. The 4 (not 5) stars is given cause the book is filled with postscript errors (missing letters, ligatures replaced by spaces, accented glyphs...). Disapointing for a book about typography.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great information if you can overlook printing errors, August 15, 2010
By 
Doug Pratt (Goodlettsville, TN United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Short History of the Printed Word (Paperback)
This book was on my wish list for several months before I finally purchased it. The author walks you through the history of printing by each century, noting improvements, significant advances, and set backs along the way. Governments rarely adapt quickly to new technologies and the most interesting parts of the book covered how governmental views towards printing changed through out the centuries. The book is an interesting read. Unfortunately it is fraught with printing errors ("firm" is frequently printed as "rm" and "first" appears as "rst" and many apostrophes are missing). This was surprising given that this is the 2nd edition of this work.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Missing Ligatures; Can't Read, December 11, 2011
By 
Marc K (Shoreline, WA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: A Short History of the Printed Word (Paperback)
I have the 1999 second edition paperback version of the book. I found the first 100 or so pages of this book very engaging, But starting at the fifth magazine all the ligatures and many punctuation marks are missing - printed as spaces - or, in a few cases replaced with slashed capital o. Trying to read this book through all the typographical errors is like trying to read on a bumpy bus driving in circles around a construction site. I wish I could finish this book but it's too aggravating. On the plus side, I have a new-found appreciation for how important ligatures are.
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11 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What Historians Don't Know, July 14, 2000
This review is from: A Short History of the Printed Word (Paperback)
Among graphic designers, one of the finest, most popular books in recent years is Robert Bringhurst's The Elements of Typographic Style (Hartley & Marks, 1992). In this book, Bringhurst revisits a classic history of typography, publication design and printing techniques that was originally produced in 1970 by Chappell (1904-1991), a book designer, illustrator and author who had studied with Rudolf Koch. Of eleven highly readable chapters, all were written by Chappell, with the exception of the last on "The Digital Revolution and the Close of the Twentieth Century." Why reissue Chappell's book? As Bringhurst explains in the preface, "He knew some of the things that historians know, but mostly he knew what historians don't know. I wanted the names and dates set straight, insofar as possible, and yet to hear the story told as Chappell told it, from a workbench rather than a keyboard, with silences in place of self-advertisements, and graver marks and acid stains in place of any footnotes." (Review copyright 2000 by Roy R. Behrens from Ballast Quarterly Review 15, No. 4, Summer.)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Riddled with postscript errors, September 20, 2010
By 
Chris Morgan (Brooklyn, New York, USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Short History of the Printed Word (Paperback)
My copy of this book is the revision by Robert Bringhurst and it is simply riddled with what I take to be postscript errors. It's so bad that I wonder how they can get away with this. I didn't pay much for my copy, else I'd have returned it for a refund. It just cannot have been proofed in the exact revision present in my copy.

I award this book a (5-2) star rating. If fixed it would be a five star book. I look forward to a third edition - the authors' combined words correctly typeset.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ah, paper!, July 20, 2010
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This review is from: A Short History of the Printed Word (Paperback)
Had to have this book so I can highlight and border write in it. Bought it after the librarian loan me her copy and I started to read it and had to give it back and get my own copy!
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0 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Check out updated version by R. Bringhurst, December 11, 2003
By A Customer
The Canadian typographer and book designer Robert Bringhurst updated Chappell's (1904-91) history. He is also the author of Element of typographic style (which is also a classic)
Althought I haven't yet read this classic by Chappell. I want to read it and would like any help in finding it too!
I think the new version is by Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR
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A Short History of the Printed Word
A Short History of the Printed Word by Warren Chappell (Paperback - June 1, 2000)
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