Invented over a hundred years ago, either in Al-Dhabl or in Fin-Allan (accounts vary), the printing press is a large mechanical device for rapidly producing reams of printed text. Though requiring some setup time as the composer arranges the type into the desired arrangement, once arranged the type can be repeatedly pressed into the parchment fed into the press, producing inked text of uniform characters. Laborious to build, the printing press requires complex engineering from many fields as well as fine materials, from high-quality wood to precise alloys to produce long-lasting typefaces. Nevertheless, the invention has spread throughout Runber, Khely, and has even landed in historically conservative Kilth. Each Emirate of the Runberi has a printing house, and many lesser towns do as well. Every printing press is a custom-made piece of manufacture, often crafted by experts specifically brought in for the job. Consequently, no two machines are quite the same and small differences in the type produced by a machine can be used to identify the press it was printed in. While Runberi and Kilthian machines (which were originally copied from Runberi designs) are broadly similar, Exodite presses have conspicuously different design decisions. For example, the direction of the parchment feed is reversed in Exodite presses. The debate over who invented the press has resurfaced between the Runberi and the Exodites occasionally, and remains unresolved. However, regardless of who originally invented it, the invention has started to spread out of even the Great Bay. Some 50 years after the first press was made in Al-Dhabl, one was crafted in faraway Liwan, in Voranth. A few hundred presses exist, each a complex and well-guarded device whose owner controls the printing of an entire city.
Despite their rarity and expense of manufacture, the printing press has spread far enough that it has revolutionized bookmaking and the spread of news. Not only is it possible to copy books for a fraction of the labor of a manual copying job, the printing press has also given rise to the mass produced pamphlet. Once the type is set, a single page pamphlet is remarkably easy for the operator of a press to mass-produce. The proliferation of books and pamphlets has greatly promoted literacy among the general population, and these days a typical city resident in Runber, Khely, or Kilth knows how to read, something that was not a given even one hundred years ago.