Gutenberg's first and only large-scale
printing enterprise was the Bible in Latin. This is not an obvious
choice of text, for the Bible was not very central to the daily
life of the Church in the 15th century.
Parts of the Bible would have been used
in church every day, but not in the order in which they appear in
the Bible. The texts of the Bible were reorganised in a Missal to
suit the complicated order in which extracts were to be read. Missals
were different from region to region, however. Perhaps Gutenberg
realised that, in order for a large-scale printing project to be
commercially successful, he had to aim at an international market.
The Bible might sell fewer copies in each region, but it had the
potential to sell all over Western Europe.
Gutenberg and his team also knew that they needed to market their
new invention. In 1454 they showed their product to an international
audience in Frankfurt, perhaps even before the project was completed.
They must have been aware that a successful launch would be much
easier if they began with a high-profile book of importance beyond
their local area.
Text of the Bible details.