Atariyashita Jihondoiya (的中地本問屋) was written by Jippensha Ikku (十返舎一九) and printed in 1802. This book is a type of Kibyoushi (黄表紙) or yellow cover book which is a type of story picture book or you can call it Manga or Japanese comic from Edo period (17th — 19th century). The story is so short but this book gave a lot of information about how books in Edo period were created.
For full book images and information, please go to Waseda Japanese classics database page.
The story starts from there was a lazy author named Jippensha Ikku (or the author of this story himself). He was so lazy and couldn’t finish his manuscript. So, the owner of publisher called Murataya made him take a weird medicine and Ikku suddenly worked so hard and finished his work.
Then they started book printing process by carving each page on wood.
Then they painted ink on the wood and pressed paper on the woodblock with a tool called “Baren” (バレン).
You can still buy Baren from big Japanese stationary store or Amazon. It’s round tool for woodblock prints for Ukiyo-e and books.
Then they would fold each pages in half using a triangle tool called “Orikura” (折鞍).
After that they would put each pages next to each other to make sure each pages aligned.
Then they used square wood template to hold and cut every pages to be in the same size.
The next step is hand-sew book binding. :)
After Ikku’s book was pubished, it became a big hit and people fought over the book from book selling and lending guy.
The book sold so well and made a lot of money for the publisher and Ikku himself. :D
In the end, the publisher made a lot of money and sent Ikku a lot of Soba because it’s his favorite food telling him he can eat as much as he wants.
Ikku said 「はんもともめでたい、おいらもめでたいめでたい」
which means the publisher is happy and I am also very happy.
The story didn’t make much sense, but it gives us a glimpse of how Edo period printing was like. :)