Great Quotes About Printing

Free, democratic, subversive, the engine of immortality…

It's been a while since printing was considered the greatest marvel of the modern world, but there was a time when people had a lot of interesting things to say about it. Over the last little while, I've been collecting cool quotes I've stumbled across about printing, and I wanted to share them with you.

Two things stand out about the below thoughts, I think. First, it's amazing how many people recognized printing as a powerful force for the democratization of society and the opening of our minds. In fact, a lot of great thinkers believed is was such a subversive force that it was dangerous.

Second, notice how many of these quotations about printing apply now to the Internet. It's sometimes funny, sometimes insightful, and always makes me think of the web as the progeny of the press. Hopefully our little multigenerational family can learn to get along.


“The printing press is either the greatest blessing or the greatest curse of modern times, one sometimes forgets which” – James Matthew Barrie

“The press, watchful with more than the hundred eyes of Argus, strong with more than the hundred arms of Briareus, not only guards all the conquests of civilization, but leads the way to future triumphs.” – Charles Sumner

“The coming of the printing press must have seemed as if it would turn the world upside down in the way it spread and, above all, democratized knowledge.” – James E. Burke

“The press is not only free; it is powerful. That power is ours. It is the proudest that man can enjoy. It was not granted by monarchs, it was not gained for us by aristocracies; but it sprang from the people, and, with an immortal instinct, it has always worked for the people.” – Benjamin Disraeli

“Break up the printing presses and you break up rebellion.” – Dudley Nichols

“What gunpowder did for war the printing press has done for the mind.” – Wendell Phillips

“Books are fatal: they are the curse of the human race. Nine-tenths of existing books are nonsense, and the clever books are the refutation of that nonsense. The greatest misfortune that ever befell man was the invention of printing.” – Benjamin Disraeli

“I was in a printing-house in Hell, and saw the method in which knowledge is transmitted from generation to generation.” – William Blake

“The printing press was at first mistaken for an engine of immortality by everybody except Shakespeare.” – Marshall McLuhan

“Before printing was discovered, a century was equal to a thousand years.” – Henry David Thoreau

“Printing…is the preservative of all arts.” – Isaiah Thomas

“Souls dwell in printer's type.” – Joseph Ames

“Helped are those who create anything at all, for they shall relive the thrill of their own conception and realize a partnership in the creation of the Universe that keeps them responsible and cheerful.” – Alice Walker

“Ink is the blood of the printing-press.” – John Milton

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