After having been born in Germany, the European printing industry is spreading rapidly in Europe. Venice became the largest book producer at the end of the Middle Ages. A real industry is being built in the city. Typographers, booksellers, merchants, sales representatives, workers, and public authorities... all contribute to the development of rules and practices that give rise to a new world of books.
As part of the programme for the 500th anniversary of the Renaissance in the Centre-Val de Loire Region, the conference “The (small) world of books and printing in Venice (1469-1530)”, created and led by Catherine Rideau-Kikuchi, is the result of a long research project.
Catherine Rideau-Kikuchi, historian, specialist in the history of the early days of printing, author of La Venise des livres, 1469-1530, published by Champ Vallon in 2018, invites us to take a different look at the history of printing, the book and its artisans.
The first book to go to press in Venice was published in 1469. Between this date and the 1530s, the printing house moved to the city and Venice became the first producer of incunabula books. It is a new profession, which is developing outside the institutional frameworks of the arts and corporations. However, the dynamism of the booming book industry has a downside: the very high instability of printers, booksellers and publishers, the uncertainties that affect their activity and the very high inequalities that are widening between the players in the printing industry. Many of them are of foreign origin: Germans first, but also Greeks, French, and more and more Italians from Milan, Monferrato or Tuscany. These craftsmen and merchants, foreign or not, have organized themselves and gradually built a new environment around books and printing. Many failed, but some managed to integrate a network of professional and personal relationships that gave rise to a particularly rich Venetian book world between the 15th and 16th centuries.