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August 14th is Color Book Day

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If you're looking for something to do today then open a book filled with color because it's Color Book Day!  Yeah, I thought it might have something to do with coloring books too, but no... not really!  Let's get right into celebrating Color Book Day!

WHY IS THIS A HOLIDAY?  

Well, this is the day, way back in 1457, when the first book to ever have a full date of publication was printed. It's kind of a monumental thing if you think about it, because it really helps to know the date a book you're reading was created, especially if you're trying to dig into the history of literature. But I assume the reason for this being called Color Book Day was because the book I'm referring to was a psalter, which means it had in it the Book of Psalms from the Bible, and it had large initials printed in it in red and blue ink. Now, I'm not sure if this is the first printed book with color ink in it, but it's the first book with a full date of publication in it. So maybe if there were books printed with color ink before this one, it's just hard to date them as the first? I don't know!  But this first printed psalter was called the Mainz Psalter and it was printed by Johann Fust and Peter Schöffer. It had 350 pages and then each giant initial was in red and blue and created in with two pieces, while there were many smaller, but still large, specially designed initials in just red or blue. It was a Latin psalter that was printed on vellum, which is made from the skin of a mammal. It appears to be the first time someone had printed with contrasting colors, different sized fonts and a full date of publication, publisher's name and information about the publication. And even though in 2009 there were only 10 copies of this book left, I'm sure PETA would throw a fit over the vellum, even though that's just how they did things at the time.  Now we have moved onto full color pictures in books, fonts of all sizes and everyone is sure to include the date of publication in their books. It was a step forward in the evolution of printing and an important date to remember. It makes reading more enjoyable when you have these breaks from the dull, colorless, uniform text. It adds a little something special to the book and happy that we made that step forward so long ago.   What books do you have that are full of color?

HOW TO CELEBRATE
So, how can you celebrate today?  Well, why don't you go on a hunt with your friends to see if you can find books that use this same style of printing? Go to your local library and look for older books and see who can locate some with giant, colorful initials. They won't have any really old books that you can check out but there are many that still use this style. I'm sure it'll be interesting to see how far this style of printing really spread.  Or you can go shopping around for a modern book that's packed with color. Find something that would interest you that is printed in any style; the more color and uniqueness the better! It doesn't matter if it's a book you'll sit and read for hours or a book you toss on your coffee table and only glance at here and there. All that matters is you find a book that appeals to you and is an example of the progression of where printing is today.  And if you're really adventurous, then look up the first psalter online and check out the designs they used for the initials. Find the initials for something special, like a name and then... get them tattooed on you! Yes, it's a bold way to celebrate but you'll have a stylish mark of publication history on your body.   Have a great day and dive into some colorful books!





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