What if you could make paper out of something cheap, that’s not cloth? Cloth rags are expensive. Cloth rags have fiber that can be made into a pulp. What else has fiber? I mean besides broccoli. Imagine living in North America—in Canada—and you’re surrounded by literal millions of big humongous huge growths that are nothing but fiber. I’m talking about trees. Pine wood is soft enough to break down into a pulp.
Paper from wood fiber is called newsprint—can you guess why? It was invented by Charles Fenerty, a 17-year-old lumberjack and poet. He figured that wood fibers would make decent paper. He was right. It was good enough to print newspapers on. Charlie lived in Canada, where they have tons of wood and lumberjacks to harvest it. The Fenerty family business was farming and lumber. They grew trees, cut them down, milled them and sold the lumber.
Newsprint is the name of the paper that newspapers are printed on nowadays. It’s ridiculously inexpensive. Newsprint is made out of wood pulp instead of rags. Newsprint turns yellow quickly because wood has a lot of acid in it. But that’s okay—nobody minds. Newspapers are only meant to be read once and then thrown away or recycled. Because newsprint is cheaper than cloth-fiber paper, printers can sell newspapers at a much lower cost. What’s that mean? That means more people can afford the newspaper.
Back to the beginning of The Western Civ User’s Guide to Reading & Writing.
Don’t forget: I wrote another Western Civ User’s Guide! Back to the beginning of The Western Civ User’s Guide to Time & Space.