“Avoiding all reference to a foretold apocalypse, and firmly this side of idolatry, Gutenberg’s Fingerprint is a wise love letter to the printed page, as trustworthy as paper and as true as ink.”
– Alberto Manguel, A History of Reading and The Library at Night
“This erudite and charming book shows Merilyn Simonds at her best, giving us the history of the printed book as well as the future potential of digital books through the prism of her own publishing experience.”
– Kate Pullinger, Inanimate Alice and The Mistress of Nothing
Four seismic shifts have rocked the history of human communication: the invention of writing, the invention of the alphabet, the invention of mechanical movable type that made the printing press possible, and the invention of the internet. Poised over this fourth transition, e-reader in one hand, a perfect-bound book in the other, Merilyn Simonds—author, literary maven, and early adopter—asks herself, What is lost and what is gained as paper turns to pixel?
Gutenberg’s Fingerprint trolls the past, present, and evolving future of the book in search of an answer. Part memoir and part philosophical and historical exploration, the book finds its muse in Hugh Barclay, who produces gorgeous books on a hand-operated antique letterpress. As Simonds works alongside this born-again Gutenberg, and with her sons to develop digital and audio editions of her flash-fiction stories, The Paradise Project, her assumptions about reading, writing, the nature of creativity, and the value of imperfection are toppled.
Gutenberg’s Fingerprint is a timely and fascinating book that explores the myths, inventions, and consequences of the digital shift and how we read today.
“Simplicity of narration, curious facts, and the personal angle of the story will fascinate book lovers from beginning to end, whether they are devoted to print or digital, or move between the mediums.”
– Publishers Weekly
“A charmer. A celebration of the base human instinct for storytelling–for the sacredness of expression in whatever form.”
– Michael Harris, The Globe & Mail
“An entertaining history of book production and reading–a surprisingly fun read.”
“Merilyn Simonds has an essayist’s mind, swooping and dipping here and there as fancy lures her.”
– Douglas Gibson, Literary Review of Canada
“A magnificent hybrid of memoir and non-fiction. Not a book that bridges the digital/print divide, but instead a book that asserts that there is no such thing. This book never misses a mark.”
– Kerry Clare, author of Mitzi Bytes
“A deeply enjoyable read.”
– Laura Brady, ebook designer
“From papyrus to pixels, Merilyn Simonds is the perfect voice for how we read and write today. Her buoyant engagement with two simultaneous projects, the publishing of an ebook and the handsetting of the same book on letterpress, provides a fascinating lens into the feel, look, texture of words—from ancient scrolls to the scrolling screen. Gutenberg’s Fingerprint is much like Simonds’ beloved garden: casually but deliciously informative, a feast of facts about paper, ink, and digital technology. Simonds’ superb enterprise is both full of techie gusto and a sympathetic tolerance for the mistakes that only a letterpress lover can know.”
– Molly Peacock, The Analyst: Poems and The Paper Garden
ECW Press, April 2017