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Reviving and publishing a book that no longer exists in print: technical prowess

Nancy Niblack Baxter, Senior Editor Hawthorne Publishing

From the Heart’s Closet: A young girl’s World War II story was the first book done in 2005 by Hawthorne Publishing as it emerged from the former publishing company Guild Press. Guild Press, founded in 1987 was sold to Emmis Communications: Guild’s name was changed to Emmis Publishing. Then the team that had originated and operated Guild went on to create Hawthorne.

Anneliese “Lee’ Krauter had spent a great deal of time recalling her time, researching, and checking records so she could tell her story, a memoir of her life as a young girl whose family had found themselves as German-Americans in New York City as World War II came. The family were unjustly interred in Crystal City Texas and then later repatriated to Germany. The story concludes with their return, one by one, after the war to take up residence in the Hoosier state.

Hundreds of copies of the book were sold through Lee’s Schatzi Press and she began a career as a speaker and expert on the human side of German-American children in the war.

The last book of the first printing was about to be sold and Lee Krauter came again to Hawthorne Publishing to get a new edition, slightly updated, out, and also to request that an e-book be created from the book.

How would a reprint of a book originally created almost twenty years ago be done?

Many times a book to be reprinted by the same publishing company which put out its original would be reconstituted from original files held in the archives of the company. This can be quite complicated because the methods for the creation and maintenance of electronic files has changed several times in a space of time even as short as a few years ago. From the Heart’s Closet was originally done in a routine way as an application file, that is, one that can be altered, and then turned into a PDF which could not be altered at that time at the printer’s.  Printing followed and files were stored. Many of Hawthorne’s books were and are held in the archives of our exclusive printer in Dexter, Michigan.

However, in addition to having  our almost completely outdated files from 2005 stored, the entire computer system at the printer’s collapsed three years ago and it took weeks for it to be restored. Among files lost, never to be restored, were the design PDF’s for From the Heart’s Closet.

Today many books without files are reprinted simply by scanning pages of the book itself and then turning them into PDF files for printing. Correction by Optical Character Recognition has been used, but recent progress in methodology has allowed photographic reproduction of pages to become almost flawless.

These technical processes for restoring an out-of-print book do not deal with copyright, which is a central issue in itself. If a book is old, done 75 years ago or more without copyright restoration, a book is in the public domain and may be copied and printed by anyone.

Thus many thousands of books of historical and literary interest have been reprinted this way and are held in archives like the New York Public Library, often turned into electronic versions which are offered free to the public.

But we wished to make alterations in this modern book, many of them minor corrections but important, and that complicated the photographic scanning process. What actually happed to From the Heart’s Closet was that we reclaimed the original long-out-of-use working or application file from our own archives, which are complete for all the books we have put out. Some way President Art restored the old files and managed to send corrected pages from the original to the printer’s to be included in their sharper, photographic restoration.

Sound complicated? You are so right! And expensive, as the long-time head of photography at the printer’s had to work with individual lines and even characters once her page scanning was finished to do the replacements we needed.

But through many phone conversations, some in great detail, and the proofing of pages by printer, publisher and author, this intricate process was completed and voila! The book in a new incarnation was ready to take into the future. And the e-book for the first time could be made from the updated version.

We all live with technology that is sometimes frustratingly complicated, but in the case of a priceless resource of history like this story, it is all worth the effort and time.

Click back and order From the Heart’s Closet, Second Edition by Anneliese Krauter.