Former leading New Zealand publisher and bookseller, and widely experienced judge of both the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the Montana New Zealand Book Awards, talks about what he is currently reading, what impresses him and what doesn't, along with chat about the international English language book scene, and links to sites of interest to booklovers.
By John Goodrich writing in The New York Sun, May 22, 2008
According to some, the printed word — those paper-borne squiggles of ink you're currently gazing at — will be obsolete in another generation or two. This, of course, remains to be seen, and in the meantime the Morgan Library's installation of its three Gutenberg Bibles provides a glorious reminder of the aesthetic virtues of printed text. It also illuminates the early challenges posed by the letterpress, an invention that revolutionized human communication, and spread, little changed over the next 350 years, to almost every corner of the globe.
Johann Gutenberg (c. 1400-68) did not invent printing — the Chinese had for centuries employed various printing methods — but by the 1450s in Mainz, Germany, he had developed a new ink and a means of casting moveable metal type that made large-scale production of text feasible. A press could now complete in weeks what a team of scribes formerly produced over their lifetimes. Not a great deal is known about Gutenberg's business or personal life, but his talents appear to have been manifold; they clearly included the capabilities of a mechanical inventor, a craftsman, a salesman, and above all the genius to conceive and push through a novel and highly complex enterprise. As the Morgan's installation demonstrates, he also had a fine eye for the design of the printed page.
The Morgan Library & Museum is one of The Bookman's most favourite places in all the world. Every trip to NYC includes a visit to this marvellous repository of treasures, and the great thing is it is not too big so one is not struck down with museum fatigue which often happen to me in the larger and more famous museums around the world. And of course this museum is actually a library with extras!