Ruskin was surrounded by books all his life - reading, buying, writing and producing them. He took an active part in the production of his own books, and worked closely with George Allen his publisher. He was very specific about how each was to look, often designing and engraving his own illustrations. All his books were produced in a very traditional way, incorporating his ideas on quality and craftsmanship. He refused to use the cheaper quicker new technology that was being developed at the time.
In 1450 Johann Guttenberg found a way to mass produce individual letters (‘type’, which is assembled to create a page of text) and adapted a wine press into a printing press. The first books to be printed were the bible and other religious texts. Very few people could read, and the use of books was confined to monastic orders and the upper classes. Printing and binding methods remained virtually unchanged from then until the nineteenth century
The improvement of education for adults and children in the first half of the 19th Century ensured a growing demand for books and other reading material. Changes in technology had a major impact on how books were made, and how much they cost. More people in Victorian Britain could read, they had money to spend on luxury items such as books, and free time to read them.