Broadsides, or broadsheets, are large sheets of paper printed with one side only and typically featuring decorative borders. Broadsheets were first used to disseminate public notices and proclamations, then later to print poems, songs, and ballads. Broadsides became widely popular during the 16th and 17th centuries as an effective way of spreading news and information; typically made on inexpensive paper sold for as little as one penny each.
Since the introduction of printing presses, broadsides became an affordable and accessible means of reaching a broad audience. Printers would set up shops on busy thoroughfares and sell their wares directly to passersby. Unfortunately, many broadsides were never bound into books and thus have since disappeared; but some remain and provide us with insight into people’s everyday lives in past generations.
Broadside poetry or songs printed in limited editions and considered collectible items are known as broadsides; digital printing technology now enables poets to print their work directly onto large printers for sale as art pieces.
Broadside printing has long been an integral component of book history and printing, providing an efficient means of disseminating information on new book releases or announcements, speeches and large blocks of text. Broadsides help authors connect with readers and form communities around their work while building author engagement through publishing announcements or speeches on a single sheet of paper.
Broadside printing can also be relatively cost-effective for businesses and organizations looking to print extensive amounts of text without spending too much money.