Where to find good editions and an affordable price.
You want free – go to a library. While you still can!
Or consider a subscription to an academic library. It can be great value for money if you read a lot of non-standard/mainstream work. Most universities allow ‘friends’ or ‘external readers’ to take subscriptions. You are usually limited in library services (you don’t get access to their digital collections)
Second hand editions. The value of the paper book has plummeted. You can pick up loads of books for little more than the postage. Books that will set you back the best part of £20 can be purchased for between £3 and £7. Just because someone else once read them.
Print on Demand. In and of itself this is not a problem. In fact, in many ways it's a good thing. Many very reputable printers are using this model of printing these days - it keeps stock low and thus has a 'green' angle. It enables niche market publishing. As a technology it is sound. But as with all technology it can be used unscrupulously. You need to be aware of the difference between high quality new editions using the technology and poor quality 'digitised' books which are effectively photocopies/scans.
The real dangers of Print on Demand
You need to be aware of the scam side of the market.
There are rather too many companies jumping in on the act of digitised print. Digitised (which means scanned) copies of work abound, and many are not cheap. (They use Print on Demand model, but not all Print on Demand books are simply 'digitised' versions of texts.)
There are signs to look out for.
If you see any of these kind of disclaimers….
This historic book may have numerous typos, missing text or index. Purchasers can download a free scanned copy of the original book (without typos) from the publisher.
This book was originally published prior to 1923, and represents a reproduction of an important historical work, maintaining the same format as the original work. While some publishers have opted to apply OCR (optical character recognition) technology to the process, we believe this leads to sub-optimal results (frequent typographical errors, strange characters and confusing formatting) and does not adequately preserve the historical character of the original artifact. We believe this work is culturally important in its original archival form. While we strive to adequately clean and digitally enhance the original work, there are occasionally instances where imperfections such as blurred or missing pages, poor pictures or errant marks may have been introduced due to either the quality of the original work or the scanning process itself. Despite these occasional imperfections, we have brought it back into print as part of our ongoing global book preservation commitment, providing customers with access to the best possible historical reprints. We appreciate your understanding of these occasional imperfections, and sincerely hope you enjoy seeing the book in a format as close as possible to that intended by the original publisher.
If you see this, run a mile.
Always be wary of the publishing source. Be very wary of the ‘classic reprint’ claim, it’s usually scanned. Don’t even bother with Bibliolife or Leopold Classic Library. Even the British Library has been known to undertake this scam.
If a book is worthy ‘preserving’ for cultural purposes it’s worth someone putting in the effort to edit, typeset and publish ‘properly.’ Books which are created from digital scans are rarely any better than the poor digital download you have left behind in order to get your hands on a physical copy. So. You have to do a bit of research on the publisher before you purchase. One click can be fast but result in a very disappointing result! You have been warned.