daivid wrote:The one reprint I do have is Smyth's 1956 edition. Overall the quality isn't bad but it is far from perfect. Looking at it closely, the faults seem to me clearly to be from the original rather than shoddy scanning. For example the numbers of section 888 bleed into each other which looks the result of too much ink.
Could I ask who the publisher of your reprint is, Daivid, and the year of publication? My Smyth was published by Harvard UP in 1984, and is also a reprint of the 1956 edition. The standard of legibility is not perfect (partly because the Greek print is so small), but there is no problem with the numbers of section 888. It has to be said that there are some scathing reviews on Amazon of certain reprints of Smyth.
daivid wrote: They do tend be quite badly cut though those rough edges kind of add to their charm.
A fashion for cutting only the top edge (the "head") of books came in in the late 19th century and it prevailed in certain quarters for many decades after that. It reflected a growing bibliographical purism, characterised partly by a desire to preserve as much of a book's margins as possible. This was itself a reaction to the long-standing practice among binders of closely trimming all three edges of a book, sometimes to the extent of cropping away part of the text. The reason for this binding practice was simply that binders could sell any trimmings to paper-makers, and the heavier the bundle of trimmings they could sell the more money they earned.
When you say "rough edges", though, you may be referring to edges that have actually been cut. Sometimes edges of books were cut very roughly, and it's usually because they were cut not in a "plough", as they should have been, but with a knife crudely bolted to the edge of the workbench. It was a much quicker, and sloppier, method.
I think we're very lucky today to have such a range of books at our fingertips, both new and secondhand, often at very modest prices. The price of books relative to other things has actually come down considerably in the last thirty years, and even more considerably in comparison with what they cost a hundred years ago.