Print mantras from Mahatma Gandhi

I came across this quote: “Contributors should have some pity for the editor and poor compositors. We should take pride in writing a clear and beautiful hand in our own language ...

02 Oct 2019 | By Ramu Ramanathan

Especially when writing for a publication, everyone should regard it as his sacred duty to be doubly careful.” The author is not a compositor or typesetter.
It is Mahatma Gandhi and going by his advise, it seems, nothing has changed since 1919.

The thing is, Gandhi was an astute printer, publisher and journalist. Gandhi edited Indian Opinion, Young India, Navjivan and Harijan.

Gandhi counted bad printing an act of himsa (violence). He insisted on clear types, durable paper and neat simple jackets. He knew costly books in attractive jackets were out of the reach of readers of a poor country like India. During his lifetime, the Navajivan Press printed many books at a low price. His autobiography in Gujarati was priced 12 annas. There was also a cheap edition of this book printed in Devanagari.

Gandhi had simple, practical suggestions. He felt children’s books should be printed in bold types, on attractive paper, and each item should be illustrated with a sketch. He preferred thin booklets as they do not tire out the children and are easy to handle.

Curiously, Gandhi was not obsessed with saving money while printing. Once the Navajivan Press decided to publish a Gujarati translation of Gokhale’s writings and speeches. The translation was done by an educationist. When the book was printed, Gandhi was requested to write the foreword. He found the translation poor and stiff and asked it to be destroyed. When he was told that Rs 700 had been spent, he said, “Do you think it is desirable to place this rubbish before the public after spending more on binding and cover? I do not want to ruin people’s taste by distributing bad literature.”

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