Life sometimes presents you with a seemingly hopeless challenge, e.g. imagine wanting to re-publish a book printed 20 years before and finding yourself without the required files. You can always retype the text, have it typeset and formatted, and finally design the cover again. Let’s be honest, though. It’s neither an easy nor a quick way of dealing with the issue. And it’s also not the cheapest. This is where “plan B” can be implemented: you can go with a reprint.
What’s reprinting about?
Reprinting means simply that a book is re-published without having to be typeset again. To print the book, you will need a copy of it to be used to create the files for printing. The entire process, to put it really simply, can be broken into a few stages. First, the book is scanned. Then the book’s digital image is processed to enable it to be printed again. Next, the files are printed, and the book’s print run makes its way to the customer. So much for theory; let’s have a look at how it works in reality.
Is reprinting an option only for “lost” files?
Your files disappearing into thin air is only one of the possible instances of what might happen. Reprinting is not always done because of missing source materials. It’s frequently the case that there were no original files in the first place. It’d be difficult to find a digital version of antique books or manuscripts, and it’d be equally tricky to get your hands on books from the first half of the last century. Initially, reprinting was done exactly for the purpose of duplicating antique works and manuscripts, and thus making them available to a wider audience. As much as it’s impossible to come into possession of the only copy of an old manuscript, a reprint will be readily available. As far as avid historians and various afficionados are concerned, reprints are an invaluable source of information.
Is there nothing you can do without at least one copy of your book?
You already know that a copy of the book you want to have reprinted will be needed for scanning. As it happens, customers sometimes don’t have an actual copy of the publication, what they do have, though, are scans. Let’s be entirely clear here: the scans should be prepared by a trained professional to ensure the required quality and resolution as not all digital copies would be suitable for reprinting. It’d be easier to save (both parties) the time and stress and put the physical copy of the book in the hands of someone who’d know how to scan it properly. Interestingly, an increasing number of digital libraries, such as e.g. Polona, hold good quality scans of entire books. If a given title’s available to the public, there’s nothing stopping you from using the materials – even when you do it for business purposes.
Preparing the book for scanning
Before a book’s scanned, it has to be prepared properly. Warning to the bibliophiles! The description below might prove to be too drastic for you as sometimes a book might become irreversibly damaged during the process. The book block is removed from its cover, and the spine is trimmed off to obtain loose sheets. If you try to scan individual pages that are still bound together, the final image will be somewhat distorted due to the fact that the pages won’t lie flat against the scanner’s document table. Naturally, not all books would have to undergo the above process. It’d be simply unbecoming to treat some of them this way as they’re too valuable. If, however, your book isn’t a collector’s item, then this is the most efficient processing method.
How do you process your files?
Get rid of anything unnecessary, i.e. dirt, tears, stains, etc. Remember that all you have is a scan which you can’t edit. You won’t be able to add anything or make corrections. This type of interference with the raster image of the text would involve a huge amount of work and isn’t always possible. It’s not hugely probable that someone will notice that it’s a reprint, as opposed to a “regular” book. Well, unless we are talking about antique books, etc. You really don’t have to be the sharpest knife in the drawer to realize that you’re dealing with a copy that has only recently left the printing house vs. a century-old volume.
Don’t worry about the quality of your reprint
What about the quality of a book produced as a reprint? Don’t fret. The quality of a reprint doesn’t differ in any way from “traditional” books, in particular when it’s a black and white publication. In actual fact, they often end up looking better than the original.
What about the cover?
You’re clear now on what’s going on inside the book. But what about the cover? If you’re dealing with a printed one, the process is similar to that applied for the book block: it’s scanned, processed and formatted to fit the cover’s sizing. But what about manuscripts and antique volumes? The variety of materials and techniques available makes it easy for you to create a cover that will not differ visually from the original. It’s a matter of choosing the right cover material and enhancements. Real leather can be successfully replaced with a polyurethane material, i.e. the so-called eco-friendly leather.
One of its properties is that it changes colour when heat embossed. The resulting effect is spectacular. Still, there are so many other options: you could use hot foil stamping and add fittings on the corners of the cover. Moreover, you could give your publication a more exclusive look by colouring the edges of the book block. Again, cover materials that imitate natural canvas can be treated in a similar way.
What happens next?
The challenge with reprinting is the correct processing of the files to be printed. The actual printing process isn’t different from the printing of traditional books; your reprints travel the same path through the printing house as “regular” books. We’ve produced numerous reprints at our printing house, and are happy to share some of the publications with you.