In People of the Book, Akiva Aaronson tells the story of Hebrew religious literature in the era of the printed word. Gil Student writes in his review:
Printing was developed in Germany, but Jews [there] were excluded from the industry by the local guilds. However, when the technology made its way to Italy, Spain, and Portugal, Hebrew printing exploded. [During the] first 50 years of printing, from 1450 to 1500, . . .there were 29 active Hebrew printing shops, [constituting] nearly one-fifth of all known printers at the time. With a literate and learned population, the Jewish community enjoyed a high demand for affordable books.
Each printer had to carve out his own letters—what we call fonts today—but regional characteristics can be easily seen. Ashkenazi printers used more square letters and Sephardi printers used rounder letters, each following the practice of scribes. Hebrew vowels proved a unique challenge; additional metal type had to be included for each [consonant-vowel combination]. Numbering of pages appeared in the early 1500s—the first Hebrew book with page numbers was the 1509 Constantinople edition of Maimonides’ Mishneh Torah.