Gutenberg the Geek Book Summary By Jeff Jarvis

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Gutenberg the Geek (2012) is an educational and entertaining look back at the historic achievements of Johannes Gutenberg, inventor of the printing press.

The book examines his life, business, and legacy of innovation as a pioneer in tech entrepreneurship.

Drawing numerous parallels with modern Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, Gutenberg the Geek clearly shows how ahead of its time Gutenberg was through careful storytelling and research.

His journey from a humble goldsmith-turned-publisher to wealthy entrepreneur reads like the dream come true for any aspiring tech wizard today.

Whether you're an enthusiast looking to learn up on your history or someone trying to draw inspiration from history's greats, this well-written book provides deep insight into both Johannes Gutenberg and tech entrepreneurship in general.

A must read for anyone passionate about innovation!

Gutenberg the Geek Book

Book Name: Gutenberg the Geek (The World’s First Tech Entrepreneur)

Author(s): Jeff Jarvis

Rating: 3.9/5

Reading Time: 9 Minutes

Categories: Entrepreneurship

Author Bio

Jeff Jarvis is a renowned American journalist, academic, and Open Web advocate whose work has been featured in the San Francisco Examiner and The Guardian.

He is best known for his book, What Would Google Do?, which has sections available both online and offline.

Jarvis' latest project is Gutenberg the Geek which provides readers with an insightful look into the digital world.

With great insight and an engaging writing style, Jarvis not only explains how technology has become integral to modern life but also provides valuable advice about how to make sure technology works for you, instead of against you.

How Johannes Gutenberg Was The Silicon Valley Tech Entrepreneur Of 550 Years Ago

Johannes Gutenberg

Johannes Gutenberg is often referred to as the first tech entrepreneur and with good reason.

He spent twenty years attempting to invent and perfect the technology of his printing press, a feat that can easily be compared to today’s Silicon Valley entrepreneurs.

He encountered many of the same obstacles, such as cash-flow problems and back-stabbing venture capitalists, but managed to finally develop his printing press which is now regarded as one of the most influential inventions in history.

Gutenberg was also very similar to Steve Jobs; he had a vision, refused to give up despite immense obstacles and revolutionized an industry.

His invention has made a huge impact on our society, similar to potential impacts that we are currently experiencing from the internet.

We may only just be beginning to understand how significant his invention was, and it’s likely that the influence will continue for centuries more.

Johannes Gutenberg’s Low-Risk Start In Mirror Manufacturing Aided The Invention Of The Printing Press

Printing Press

Johannes Gutenberg’s hometown of Mainz, Germany in the 15th century was filled with religious, political and economical change.

Creditors had forced the city to take austerity measures due to its high debt, and old aristocratic families were now competing with a rising middle class.

Such times of upheaval often spark entrepreneurs like Gutenberg to create something new.

At 40 years of age, he began his venture by selling small mirrors to pilgrims – a modest success that trained him in team building and raising funds.

In secret however, he had been working on the invention he will most be remembered for: The printing press!

Faced with this enormous task required utmost amounts of innovation and optimization across many components: Casting type from molten metal (he invented a mold to produce 3000 letters in a day!), modeling the press after wineries for higher precision, and developing ink made from soot, amber and oil for that rich dark tone still used today.

It took him nearly 20 years – far from a sudden flash of inspiration – but finally he launched his book prototype/beta version: A Latin grammar book squeezing words tightly into its pages.

Indeed, like many other entrepreneurs before and after him, Gutenberg lived in turbulent times testing his limits as he built an invention slowly over time.

Gutenberg’S Risky Business: Greed, Betrayal, And The Birth Of Open-Source Printing

When Johann Gutenberg set out to publish the Latin Bible, he had many expenses to cover and no way to pay for them.

So he sought loans from businesses and a venture capitalist, named Johann Fust.

These loans helped fund Gutenberg to complete his project but turned out to be a double-edged sword since, when the books were almost done, Fust sued Gutenberg and took over all of his equipment, research and had him repay the loan with interest.

Not wanting to leave his invention in the hands of someone else, Gutenberg decided to use an open-source approach.

He began teaching printers across Europe the methods he developed so that more people could build on what he started.

Thus, Gutenberg’s decision was ultimately for humankind’s benefit as it ushered in a major change in book publishing around Europe.

Gutenberg’s Printing Press And The Internet: Revolutionizing The World By Exerting Cultural Influence


The potential of the Internet to become just as profoundly influential for humanity as Gutenberg’s printing press is one that can’t be ignored.

After all, Gutenberg’s invention triggered the Protestant Reformation and played a role in spreading Martin Luther’s 30 tracts far and wide across Europe which helped fan the flames of a lasting revolution.

Today, we’re seeing similar revolutions catalyzed by the internet – think Twitter’s role in the Arab Spring, for example.

In addition, authorship and ownership of creativity can now be easily documented and preserved thanks to printing while knowledge and information are shared on the internet with its own issues regarding ownership and copyright.

Moreover, it took 50 years after Gutenberg’s invention before totally new genres and styles began to emerge.

This makes us wonder if we might likewise be only beginning to see how powerful an influential cultural force the internet could have on our lives, potentially giving rise to entirely new sciences, professions, social classes or countries.

In order for us to realize its true potential though, efforts must continue to protect the internet from government control or corporate influence – only then can it hope to match Gutenberg’s printing press as one of history‘s most influentially revolutionary inventions.

Wrap Up

Gutenberg the Geek is an inspiring tale of resilience and innovation.

The key message from this book is that despite setbacks and difficulties, Gutenberg spent many years perfecting his groundbreaking printing press technology – and his invention has since gone on to have a lasting impression on humanity.

Ultimately, the book draws parallels between Gutenberg’s work and the potential of today’s internet.

It serves as a reminder to never give up – despite any adversity that stands in our way – in order to bring new ideas into the world that will shape our future.

Arturo Miller

Hi, I am Arturo Miller, the Chief Editor of this blog. I'm a passionate reader, learner and blogger. Motivated by the desire to help others reach their fullest potential, I draw from my own experiences and insights to curate blogs.

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