Sunday, July 27, 2008


A reader emailed me asking my thoughts about the quality of the Kessinger Publishing POD reprints of old (presumably public domain) Civil War titles [you can see a list of examples here]. I haven't had the opportunity to examine a copy so I have no opinion of these editions beyond the crazy prices and ugly covers. The publisher's website indicates they have some kind of partnership with Amazon, which would explain why these titles so frequently come up with subject or keyword searches on Amazon. Descriptions of the books are non-existent, indicating their appeal primarily to those who 'know what they're looking for'. Anyway, if you own any Kessinger books, feel free to share your impressions in the comments section. I can guarantee that at least two people will be interested in reading your thoughts.


  1. Drew,

    I own a couple of Kessinger reprints and, compared to the originals that they were scanned from, they are OK. There is a book called "Memoir of Everton Judson" that I needed for my book and I thought I would never find a library willing to interlibrary loan a book over 150 years old and as rare as this seemed to be. I was surprised to see that Kessinger offered it, and for only $19. There was a library actually willing to let it out of their building, and I was able to compare the two and I found that they were identical. The only complaint I have about these POD reprints (and this wasn't a Kessinger product) is that some of the scans were done on books with underlining in them. If all you're looking for is a reading copy or one for research, and can find a decent price, they are acceptable. Hope this helps.


  2. Hi Rob,
    Thanks for taking the time. Scanning and transcribing both have their drawbacks I suppose, markings and image quality for the former, and introduced typos, errors, etc as well as left out maps and illustrations for the latter. Perhaps they tried, but it's too bad in your case they didn't make more of an effort to a find copy without underlining for their scans.

  3. Drew,
    I just received a copy of Henry Smith's HISTORY OF THE 7TH IOWA reprinted by Kessinger. I've had originals of this title before and knew it would be a hard thing to do a facsimile of because of the very poor quality of the original print. Some parts of pages of the reprint are illegible and the portraits are badly reproduced. But if you want a copy of this book this is probably your only choice. The paperback itself is well constructed, obviously a print on demand product.

  4. I bought a couple of reprints on Freemasonry from Kessinger in the 1990th. Back then they used a hard plastic binding which came off easily and had sharp cutting edges.

    But the copy of Skene's "Four Ancient Books of Wales" which I obtained recently is well bound. The type is worn a bit but readable without any problem throughout. The book has all the bibliographical details, page numbers. What else could I wish for? Ah, yea, that Kessinger also publishes Volume II. =)

    I am really happy to have it, and as a reprint that is, not as a website edition or a machine scanned text.

    I once -- by mistake -- ordered a machine scanned text of Nennius' "Historia Brittonum" from "Cambridge Scholars Publishing". (The name has nothing to do with quality =-( ) It was a shambles. OCR errors en masse, English and Latin lines mixed up, some machine code, no good paragraph or page layout. Good? Ehm, no layout at all....

  5. For those interested in what happens behind the scenes of a print on demand reissue project:

    M. Scheltens
    Cambridge University Press


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