Jun 3, 2011

In Honor of the Printers–Past, Present, and to Come…

A few weeks ago, I found myself at the only museum dedicated to stained glass in the country. My sisters and I were giving my mom a Louis Comfort Tiffany tour of Chicago for Mother’s Day, and the Smith Museum of Stained Glass at Navy Pier just happens to have a large collection. The Tiffany pieces are incredible. The man was a genius. If you ever have the opportunity, go see his work in person. Pictures can’t do the windows justice. Anyway. I loved the Tiffany, but my favorite piece at the museum was definitely this window, dedicated to Henry Oldendorf Shepard, a real-life Printers Row printer.

20110603-124503.jpgIt says:

In Honor of the Printers–Past, Present, and to Come–
The Multipliers of Recorded Thought,
Carrying Down the Centuries the Evidence of Man’s
Advancements in Knowledge–
The Heralds of Peace and Good Will–
The Conservators of Wisdom–The Antagonists of Error–
The Champions of Good Works–
The Glorifiers of Achievement–
The Preservers of Art, The Promoters of Culture.

I know that this about printers, not publishers, but this is exactly the reason that I wanted to go into publishing. This is the point. We’re the Multipliers of Recorded thought, the Conservators of Wisdom.

I keep a few printers blocks on my desk. It’s funny to think about how I just change some HTML code around and send a book out the door (or, rather, over the Internet), and these printers had to place each word or letter individually. Crazy. Anyway, these blocks are my reminder that no matter how the industry changes, the point is the message, not the medium. We make books, and that’s so much bigger than arguments over whether or not ereaders smell nice. We’re here preserve history and disperse ideas.

The other thing that I realized as I read this was that if I were a super hero, I’d want to be known as The Antagonist of Error. My symbole would be Æ. But that’s just a sidenote.

I’m headed to the Printers Row Lit Fest in Chicago this weekend, which I highly recommend. I’ll buy books and hear authors and generally have a wonderful time, but I’m also going to take a few minutes and think about good ol’ Henry, and how things haven’t changed very much at all.



  • Jesse – I’d so love to take your ‘tour’ on my next visit to Chicago…can you give me the other sites you visited? Thanks! (P.S. Always enjoy reading you)

  • That museum sounds amazing! I’m putting it on my list of places to see.

    I’m also hoping to hit up Printers Row this weekend.

    Loving the blog!

  • I love this. I’m around book fetishists all the time (hi, lit grad students), and I’m surprised how many people who love books f-r-e-a-k out over ebooks, ereaders, and the DEATH OF EVERYTHING. I love books as much as the next person, but the goal is the content, not the format. A reader is a reader is a reader, whether they’re reading paper or pixels–and I want a world full of readers.

    And by the way, Æ, you need to read this.


    • @Sharone I sort of want to frame “A reader is a reader is a reader, whether they’re reading paper or pixels–and I want a world full of readers.” and put it in my cubicle.

      Also, I want to be your high-school self’s friend.

  • Nice, Jess…always a smooth read! Here’s to Henry and to you, noble multipliers all!

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