JF Ptak Science Books Quick Post
This is intended to be a short mini-post on the end of printing, and the end of bookselling, such as we know it, or knew it--this image comes from 1499 (Le Grand Danse Macabre, Lyon), and tells us that death to these occupations is nothing new. Of course when we speak of the death of the book nowadays we're discussing something different--the death of the printed format. But here in this print, which is also the first depiction of a mechanized book press, we see ironically that Death has come to claim its operators, or at least two of them. The inkman in the background, the yelling third of a departing party of two, is spared for the time being. Just as the reader is for the first time seeing this machine, they are also seeing Death in its in grim glory snatching away the machine's main operators.
The image and the functions of the people working the press are well described in the excellent history of all things books at the Bookn3rd website, here.
Here's Death coming for the bookseller--at least the man was reading at the time of the departure. This is also a very early depiction of a book store, which again as the first visual information on such a place to the reader is wrapped around the visitation of the Great Inevitable.