Not everyone knows that after the invention of printing in Mainz in Germany in 1452, the press spread rapidly throughout Europe.
But the city in which it developed more printing of old books was Venice.
Here there were plenty of capital and raw materials, including paper which costs accounted for more than half the final cost of the product.
And here are offered for printers many opportunities for work and enrichment with a multiplicity of possible customers and a vibrant cultural environment in an atmosphere of openness and freedom.
The Serenissima Republic, in the late fifteenth century, overlooks the Adriatic Sea and is a multiethnic and multicultural city, what we now call the Global Village. inhabited by Serbs, Dalmatians, Montenegrins, Albanians, Greeks. Each community had its own cultural needs and in need of books printed in different languages.
From their presses came out rare books of all kinds: ancient law books, rare books on medicine, costly missals and liturgical books (these are the most profitable items in the budget of the printers but also classic, always popular, educational books, pamphlets of current affairs or topics that contain prayers, rare books and pamphlets of the various topics in Latin and the vernacular. They were old books for all the bags, something for everyone, for every social class, for every moment of life.
Print runs ranged from a few hundred copies of rare books printed in the early years up to three thousand and more. Towards the end of 1400 the average was a thousand / one thousand five hundred copies. In 1500, speaks of 17,000 titles, according to other estimates of 30,000 or even 50,000.
Between 1526 and 1550 Venice public half of the works produced in Europe.
It passed by 153 tipography of 1469 to 690 in 1500.
The amount produced was so great that the printers had to rent warehouses to store their production.
The cost was of 500 ducats for a Bible and could reach 2000 ducats for more complex works.
One of the main points in which are preserved ancient books is Bliblioteca Marciana, which is located near the bell tower in St. Mark.
It is one of the largest Italian libraries and the largest of Venice.
Contains one of the finest collections of manuscripts in Greek, Latin and eastern parts of the world.
In 1603 a law went into effect, which imposed any Venetian printer to deposit a copy of every book printed at the Marciana, who became the istitutional library of the Serenissima Republic.
For lovers, wander through bookstore in search of rare and ancient editions is certainly one of the things to do in Venice