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Neither Good, Fast, Nor Cheap: Challenges of Early Arabic Letterpress Printing

Hala Auji

Extending the upcoming 2017 APHA conference’s theme beyond North America, one can say that Arabic printing, in its early history, was not “Good, Fast, and Cheap.” It was quite the opposite. In spite of that, the technological and material limitations around which early Arabic printers worked prompted the search for innovative and unusual visual solutions to technical problems. Before turning to a couple interesting examples, a little should be said about the history of Arabic printing in general, or, more importantly, how it is distinguished from that of printing in Europe and America. While Gutenberg’s revolutionary work heralded printing in the modern world and is typically credited with the subsequent proliferation of printed books that democratized knowledge production, Arabic-script book production in the Islamic world took a different path.  [Read more]