Class 10  >  Social Studies (SST) Class 10  >  Chapter Notes: Print Culture & the Modern World

Print Culture & the Modern World Chapter Notes - Social Studies (SST) Class 10


(i) Importance of printed matter in the modern world
(ii) Everywhere around us - evidence of print in books, magazines, newspapers, calendars etc. 

The First Printed Books

(i) Earliest printing technology - hand printing or woodblock printing in China, Japan and Korea
(ii) Imperial State of China, the major producer of printed material
(iii) 17th century and urban culture in China and new technology of mechanical presses
(iv) Shanghai - hub of the new print culture
(v) Hand-printing technology in Japan by Buddhist missionaries around 768-770 AD
(vi) Oldest Japanese printed book ‘Diamond Sutra’ (868). 

Diamond SutraDiamond Sutra

Print in China

  • In ancient China, print technology developed, with books printed by rubbing paper against inked woodblocks starting in AD 594.
  • Early Chinese books were in an 'accordion' style, and they were primarily used for civil service exam preparation.
  • Print use expanded as urban culture grew, and merchants started using printed material.
  • Shanghai became a hub for print culture.

Print in Japan

  • Hand-printing technology from China arrived in Japan around AD 768-770.
  • The oldest Japanese printed book, the Buddhist 'Diamond Sutra,' dates back to AD 868.


  • Calligraphy is the art of beautifully stylized writing.
  • Chinese paper reached Europe via the Silk Route in the 11th century.
  • Marco Polo brought knowledge of woodblock printing to Italy in 1295.
  • Booksellers employed scribes and skilled handwriters to meet the demand for books.
  • Handwritten manuscripts couldn't satisfy the growing demand for books due to their limitations.

Reasons for the Arrival of Woodblock Printing in Europe After 1295

  • Woodblock printing originated in China.
  • Marco Polo brought the knowledge to Italy.
  • Italians started producing books with woodblocks.
  • The technology eventually spread to other parts of the world.


  • Vellum is a parchment made from animal skin.


  • Manuscripts were handwritten copies on palm leaves or handmade paper.

Limitations of Manuscripts

  • Manuscripts were expensive, fragile, and required careful handling.
  • They weren't easily portable or accessible for reading.

Reasons Handwritten Manuscripts Couldn't Satisfy the Demand for Books

  • Copying manuscripts was costly, labor-intensive, and time-consuming.
  • Manuscripts were fragile and not easily accessible for widespread reading.

Factors That Helped the Rise of Print Culture in Europe

  • Handwritten manuscripts couldn't meet the increasing demand for books.
  • Copying manuscripts was expensive and labor-intensive.
  • Manuscripts were fragile, limiting their circulation.
  • Woodblock printing, though introduced by the 15th century, couldn't meet the demand.
  • There was a need for quicker and cheaper book reproduction.

Gutenberg and the Printing Press

  • Johannes Gutenberg, the son of a merchant, used his knowledge of metalwork to invent the printing press.
  • He used a design inspired by the olive press.
  • By 1448, he printed the first book, the Bible.
  • Printing presses were established across Europe between 1450-1550.


  • A platen is a board used to press onto the back of paper to make an impression from the type.

The Print Revolution and Its Impact

  • The printing press reduced book production costs, labor, and time.
  • It led to the emergence of a new reading public.
  • Religious debates and concerns about uncontrolled printing arose.
  • It facilitated the spread of ideas, debate, and a new intellectual atmosphere.


  • A ballad is a historical or folk tale in verse, often sung or recited.


  • Taverns are places where people gather to drink, eat, meet friends, and exchange news.

Protestant Reformation

  • The Protestant Reformation was a 16th-century movement to reform the Roman Catholic Church, led by figures like Martin Luther.

Reason Printed Books Became Popular Among Less Literate People

  • Printed materials included folk songs and folklore.
  • Illustrated books were accessible.
  • These materials could be read aloud at gatherings, pubs, etc.

The Reading Mania

  • Churches and schools improved literacy among peasants and artisans.
  • In some parts of Europe, literacy rates reached 60-80%.
  • Lending libraries and cheap, small books made reading more accessible.
  • Newspapers and journals spread information and news.

Role of Print Culture in Bringing About the French Revolution

  • Print popularized Enlightenment ideas.
  • Created a culture of dialogue and debate.
  • Inspired literature that criticized royalty and societal issues.


  • Denominations are subgroups within a religion.


  • An almanac provides astronomical and practical information.


  • Chapbooks are pocket-sized books sold by traveling peddlers.


  • Despotism is a system of governance with absolute, unchecked power by an individual.

Children, Women, and Workers

  • Efforts were made to educate women and workers.
  • Women's reading increased in middle-class homes.
  • Many journals carried writings by women and emphasized the importance of women's education.
  • Printed books helped women express their ideas and highlight women's conditions.

Impact of Print Culture on Indian Women

  • Print allowed women to read, discuss, and express themselves.
  • It connected women across caste, religion, and class.
  • Women shared their experiences and stories, raising awareness.

Print and the Poor People

  • Cheap, small books and lending libraries made literature more affordable.
  • Paperback editions of novels were produced for the masses.
  • Literacy rates improved among the working class, spreading nationalist ideas.

Role of Print Culture in Encouraging Nationalism in India

  • Print culture helped spread nationalist ideas and exposed British misrule.
  • Nationalist newspapers played a significant role.
  • Print media contributed to the rise of Indian nationalism.

Reason for Vernacular Press Act Passed in India

  • The colonial government sought to control the increasingly assertive vernacular press.
  • The Vernacular Press Act of 1878 provided extensive censorship rights to the government over vernacular newspapers.

Steps Taken by the British to Curb Freedom of Press in India

  • After the 1857 revolt, the British aimed to suppress the native press.
  • The Vernacular Press Act of 1878 allowed the government to censor vernacular newspapers.
  • Regular monitoring and warnings to newspapers were implemented.
  • Seizure of printing machinery occurred if warnings were ignored.
The document Print Culture & the Modern World Chapter Notes | Social Studies (SST) Class 10 is a part of the Class 10 Course Social Studies (SST) Class 10.
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FAQs on Print Culture & the Modern World Chapter Notes - Social Studies (SST) Class 10

1. What are printed books?
Ans. Printed books are books that are produced using a printing press or similar technology. They are created by transferring ink from a prepared plate onto paper or other materials, allowing for multiple copies to be produced easily and quickly.
2. When were the first printed books created?
Ans. The first printed books were created during the 15th century. The Gutenberg Bible, printed by Johannes Gutenberg in 1455, is considered to be one of the first major books printed using movable type.
3. How did the invention of printed books impact society?
Ans. The invention of printed books had a significant impact on society. It allowed for the mass production and distribution of knowledge, making books more accessible and affordable to a larger population. This led to an increase in literacy rates, the spread of ideas and information, and the democratization of knowledge.
4. What is print culture?
Ans. Print culture refers to the cultural practices, beliefs, and values that are associated with the use and production of printed materials. It encompasses the reading, writing, and dissemination of printed works, as well as the social, economic, and political implications of print media.
5. How did print culture contribute to the development of the modern world?
Ans. Print culture played a crucial role in the development of the modern world. It facilitated the spread of scientific, philosophical, and religious ideas, allowing for the exchange of knowledge and the advancement of various fields. It also played a part in shaping social and political movements, as printed materials could be used to disseminate propaganda and rally support for causes. Additionally, print culture contributed to the standardization of language and the development of national identities.
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