Wednesday, April 13, 2016


     It's not plagiarism if you steal from yourself, am I right?   I've previously written about someone who did for 16th-century readers much of what the Kindle has done for 21st-century readers: made books more portable and thus, more accessible.   So without further ado, I'm going to quote part of a post I did for last year's A to Z Challenge about Aldus Manutius (1449-1515), an Italian humanist who, among other things, is considered the father of standardized punctuation.  Although there are still some people who chafe at punctuation rules, no one can dispute that at least one of his printing innovations profoundly changed the way people read books.

   Manutius was a publisher and printer who invented italic type, developed some elements of modern punctuation, and perhaps most importantly, introduced the idea of printing inexpensive volumes of books bound in vellum in "octavo" size - much smaller and more portable than the then-standard size [my 2016 note: up to that point, books were usually printed either in folio size - four pages to a sheet of paper - or quarto size - eight pages to a sheet.  Octavo size was appreciably smaller - sixteen pages to a sheet] - that were distributed and read much as paperback books are in modern times.  Manutius, and the Aldine Press which he founded, had no less of an admirer than Erasmus, who worked at Manutius's press for a while during his stint in Italy, and had this to say:

             However one may sing the praises of those who by their virtue either defend
             or increase the glory of their country, their actions only affect worldly pros-
             perity, and within narrow limits. But the man who sets fallen learning on its
             feet (and this is almost more difficult than to originate it in the first place) is
             building up a sacred and immortal thing, and serving not one province alone
             but all peoples and all generations. Once this was the task of princes, and it
             was the greatest glory of Ptolemy. But his library was contained between the
             narrow walls of its own house, and Aldus is building up a library which has
             no other limits than the world itself.

     Manutius founded the Aldine Press, and came up with the logo of a dolphin wrapped around an anchor, inspired by an image on ancient Roman coins.  The logo was such a success that it was immediately pirated by French and Italian publishers, and is still used by Doubleday, a Random House division.


  1. And where would we be without the italic? Fascinating post, Yvonne thanks. (and no, it's not plagiarism. If something is worth saying it's worth saying twice!)

    Writing Women’s Fiction

    1. Thank you, Fran! My name isn't Yvonne but that's okay - you exonerated me from plagiarism so I owe you one!

  2. Super post, Susan. I was accused of plagarism 'of myself' at university. I appealed - how can I plagarise myself? I was made to rewrite a passage of my own work!!!

    Thanks for your comment on my J post. I have clarified in reply :) I got my info from reliable Mr Oxford. Maybe I didn't write clearly enough - my bad (as my daughter would say:)).

    1. Wow, Nicola. I didn't realize when I wrote the post that plagiarism from one's self could actually be a thing!

  3. It might not sound like it, but the history of the book is actually kind of cool. So much we take for granted now, when we read a simple book. I suppose Kindle, in a way, is a step in that direction.

  4. The history of books and printing is interesting. I especially find punctuation fascinating. It's hard to image life without it.

    ~Ninja Minion Patricia Lynne aka Patricia Josephine~
    Story Dam
    Patricia Lynne, Indie Author

  5. I for one truly love punctuation. One comma can change the meaning of a sentence, as well as the main course of the meal.
    "Let's eat, Grandma!"
    "Let's eat Grandma!"

    1. I am in love with this comment. I even showed it to my daughter and though she hates to agree with me about anything, she laughed too!

  6. Punctuation is fascinating because if truly does change the entire meaning of what a person intends. Without it, far too many people misinterpret the meaning of the writer and that's where the real confusion and conflict begins.
    I just dropped by to say hi from fhe challenge.

  7. How neat that a design from 15th/16th century is still in use!Beyond cool.

    Can't do without italics in the real world where the emoticons vanish..

    Brilliant post as usual, and you can't plagiarise your own work. And if you are quoting the source then how can it be plagiarism anyways? :)


    1. Thank you, as always, for your kindness and support!

  8. Cool. I like that logo. Kindle does have its good points, but I still love paper books.

    1. Gotta admit: I'm a deep-seated technophobe and have never used a Kindle. Paper books for me all the way!!

  9. Isn't it strange? You give some things so much for granted, you never think that someone actually invented them at some point. It never occured to me that someone invented punctuation.

    The Old Shelter - Jazz Age Jazz

  10. I think it was a lot of someones, Sarah, but it sounds like Manutius invented our current system.