Franklin's a printer by profession, and reading and writing the printed word is what shapes his life. He treats his life like a book, using metaphors of printing and reading – like calling his mistakes "errata" (printing errors) – to shape his place in the world. Reading is what brings him his greatest pleasure and writing is how he defines himself. The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin reminds us of the importance literature holds in any society. For Franklin, founding a library and a university – giving people access to books and to knowledge through those books – provides people with something he sees as just as necessary as other basic life needs, like health care or defense.
Franklin seizes the chance to write his Autobiography as a way of contributing to the field of literature he loves so much; his self-portrayal within its pages is a deliberate attempt to show that a self-educated writer can also join in an elite canon.
Franklin defines himself so much by his writing that, in a weird way, without the Autobiography he wouldn't exist.