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The Bookwheel Allowed 16th Century Scholars to Read Multiple Books at One Time

Ebooks and eReaders had been as soon as concept to be the way in which of the long run certain to be the demise of print. While it’s possible you’ll assume that we are speaking concerning the early 2000s, we are in reality speaking concerning the late-16th century.

After the printing press was once invented in 1440, books become broadly to be had to the general public and data began spreading at fast charges. This persisted for concerning the subsequent 200 years till teams of other people began enthusiastic about techniques to fortify at the commonplace e book. Many answers had been considered however probably the most notable got here from the thoughts of Agostino Ramelli.

The concept of the bookwheel

Ramelli was once an Italian army engineer who was once recognized for attempting to remedy on a regular basis issues. He printed a e book in 1588 titled The quite a lot of and inventive machines of Captain Agostino Ramelli the place he detailed an concept through the title of the “bookwheel”.

The Bookwheel Allowed 16th-Century Scholars to Read Multiple Books at One Time
Source: Wikimedia

This concept was once his resolution to the issue of attempting to reference many books at the similar time. Books of the day had been heavy, had thick pages, and were not simple to unfold out in a single confined house.


The bookwheel is precisely what it seems like, an enormous wood wheel that incorporates a variety of books. Best imagined as a Ferris wheel for books the place the riders had been changed with open reference subject material. On the aspect, there was once a posh format of gears that allowed each and every e book to keep at the similar perspective as they traveled across the wheel. Gravity would’ve labored simply superb to stay the books at the similar perspective, however Agostino Ramelli was once additionally somewhat little bit of a showoff when it got here to his mathematical prowess.

All this advanced design resulted within the talent to sit down proper in entrance of the bookwheel and skim a variety of books with no need to transfer or do any heavy lifting. This is notable as a result of it could’ve been the primary main innovation in how other people learn books, permitting an interface harking back to an analog eReader.

Ramelli’s different innovations

Ramelli’s Bookwheel wasn’t his best invention – his declare to popularity within the Italian army was once in reality the introduction of a mine that helped breach a castle right through the siege of La Rochelle.

The Italian engineer had advanced a specific hobby in developing overcomplicated however helpful answers to issues to attempt to sing their own praises, which stuffed the 200 pages of his e book. He additionally attempted to overcomplicate issues to make a observation within the box of engineering, that arithmetic, and technologies had been vital to the sector.

The Bookwheel Allowed 16th-Century Scholars to Read Multiple Books at One Time
Source: Vysotsky/Wikimedia Commons

Surprisingly, Ramelli by no means in reality constructed any of his concepts, however since they had been captured in his e book, many bookwheels had been constructed after his demise. In the 17th and 18th centuries, dozens of bookwheels had been constructed for libraries and analysis facilities throughout Europe and 14 are recognized to nonetheless be in lifestyles nowadays.


So, the eReader wasn’t in reality a brand new invention, slightly it was once the trendy virtual adaptation of a centuries-old analog invention to remedy an issue that was once just about as previous as books.

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