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Digitised images from The Bodleian Libraries Special Collections Search: Early Printing in Europe: examples and evidence in Bodleian collections The Bodleian’s collections of early printed books contain over 6000 incunables (books printed before 1500). The stories these collections tell cross many centuries and continents. Technological and business innovation in 15th-century Germany launched a printing trade that supplanted manuscript copies of many scholarly and religious works, and made possible new forms of text and illustrative practices. Contemporaries and later collectors who appreciated the skill of the printers and valued the books as fine objects ensured their preservation in libraries, where they survive as witnesses of every stage in a profound transformation of communications technology.