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Postby pster » Fri Nov 15, 2013 11:02 pm

When buying a reprint of a book with an elapsed copyright, I have found that the soft covers are a safer bet. The hard covers look great and feel great, but they are bound so tightly that they crack.
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Re: Valuable Information

Postby John W. » Sat Nov 16, 2013 10:00 am

pster - useful to know. I've not yet bought one of these myself, but (as I hate paperbacks) the temptation for me would be to go for the hardback, which from your experience would be unwise.

I usually either consult such works (where available) online, or wait until I can find/afford an original - but that's just my personal preference.

Best wishes,

John
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Re: Valuable Information

Postby Victor » Sat Nov 16, 2013 6:23 pm

pster wrote:When buying a reprint of a book with an elapsed copyright, I have found that the soft covers are a safer bet. The hard covers look great and feel great, but they are bound so tightly that they crack.

From the perspectives of durability and ease of use, it's not whether the book is a hard- or softback that's critical, but whether it's section-sewn or merely adhesive-bound. Both hard- and softbacks are now routinely adhesive-bound by many publishers, resulting, in some cases, in books that as bound entities are literally ephemeral. I have recently handled new hardback books by both OUP and De Gruyter that were adhesive-bound and began to disintegrate into their constituent leaves after only very light usage. In the case of the De Gruyter book the retail price was a shade short of 200 Euros.

How readily a book can be opened and will stay open is determined by a number of factors:
1. Whether it is sewn or adhesive-bound
2. What kind of paper it is printed on
3. Whether the grain direction of the paper is aligned with the vertical or horizontal axis of the book.
4. How much glue (and of what kind) has been applied to the spine of the book.
5. What other spine linings have been glued on.
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Re: Valuable Information

Postby pster » Sat Nov 16, 2013 7:01 pm

This is a sewn book. The problem is not in the inner pages but rather a crack between the front cover and the first page. The quality seems quite high although I can't speak to the other specifics you list. When I received it, I was very impressed with how solid it seemed. Indeed, I would have rated it the sturdiest book I had ever seen. But unfortunately, it cracked in the first week. It seemed to be bound too tightly. If books were athletes, I would say this one was on steroids, and so eventually snapped. Especially sad as it was a reference book. Because they make them individually with an automated process that handles all shapes and sizes, I suspect that there are quality control issues. On the other hand, I just received a soft cover book that seems to be made with the same thick very white paper as the hard cover, but looks like it will last as long as any of my other soft covers.
Last edited by pster on Sat Nov 16, 2013 7:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Valuable Information

Postby Paul Derouda » Sat Nov 16, 2013 7:09 pm

Can even expensive hardback books be just glued together nowadays? That's outrageous. For a 200 e book it's perhaps worthwhile to take it to a bookbinder if you can locate one, he can probably repair the book and sew the pages together. My Oxford commentary on the Odyssey (vol 1), with a very low-quality adhesive binding, was litterally fallling apart. I took it to a bookbinder, which cost 30 e if I remember correctly, and after the repair it was almost like new. The binding is actually much better than new, because now it's sewn. It would have cost only a little more to buy a new book, but this way I didn't lose my notes in the book - and the new book would have soon been falling apart as well. Now I'm considering having vols 2 and 3 bound as well. And for 50 e or something, he would have turned the book into a hardback in the process.
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Re: Valuable Information

Postby pster » Sat Nov 16, 2013 7:19 pm

That's funny Paul because I actually have two copies of this hardcover (Sidgwick's prose composition). I put a bunch of notes in the first copy, but it was falling apart. I called a bookbinder (in Stockholm) to see if he could help me out and he basically told me that the cost would be prohibitive (more than 50 EUR), and that mostly he worked with rare books and family albums. So I decided to get a reprint hardcover (for about 20EUR). But that cracked. So I have two copies of Sidgwick, one old, one new, both with binding issues.
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Re: Valuable Information

Postby Victor » Sat Nov 16, 2013 10:34 pm

pster wrote:This is a sewn book. The problem is not in the inner pages but rather a crack between the front cover and the first page. The quality seems quite high although I can't speak to the other specifics you list. When I received it, I was very impressed with how solid it seemed. Indeed, I would have rated it the sturdiest book I had ever seen. But unfortunately, it cracked in the first week. It seemed to be bound too tightly. If books were athletes, I would say this one was on steroids, and so eventually snapped.

It's difficult to say what the cause is without seeing the book, but generally when you get separation between the book block and the cover at the inner joint as you describe it is because the material (usually an open-weave cloth) that is stuck to the spine and then carried across beneath the paste-downs is either not strong enough, not wide enough, or not properly stuck down. I had an atlas once that was 24 inches high, weighed 5 kg, but had no reinforcement at the joint at all and whose boards were effectively held on only by the endpapers. The binding broke down very quickly indeed.

The tightness at the joint you describe is a common fault in case-bound books, (all mainstream hardbacks are case-bindings), but normally the cloth reinforcement will withstand the forces of board-opening for some time before the joint fails.
Paul Derouda wrote:Can even expensive hardback books be just glued together nowadays? That's outrageous.

Yes, it's sadly all too common nowadays. Firstly publishers make an initial cost-saving (a trifling saving per book, but significant when spread over the whole print-run) by adhesive-binding rather than machine-sewing their books, and secondly the books, being less durable, are removed by natural wastage relatively rapidly from circulation on the second-hand market, so creating a greater perennial demand for new copies, the continued sale of which gives the publisher his all-important cut.

Paul Derouda wrote: I took it to a bookbinder, which cost 30 e if I remember correctly, and after the repair it was almost like new.

Yes, do patronise your local craft bookbinder. Ask him or her to explain the advantages of a hand-bound book over a machine-made one. I had a full-sized Liddell and Scott in its original publisher's case-binding, and it survived about six months of daily use. 20 years ago it was re-sewn on linen tapes and re-bound in double-warp buckram round laminated boards. It has lasted to this day with no signs of structural weakness having yet become apparent.
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