Is what happened a rare anomaly or common? (Apologies if this is the wrong substack; I couldn't find a more relevant one.)book

  • If you are referring to the colors, are you certain it's not simply the book printing? It looks to be done with purpose and would fit well with the book theme of the nazis being considered "brown" sadly I couldn't find an image of the book from the side online to check. If you don't believe it's done purposefully could you post a picture of a page as well. Other than the color the book just appears to be somewhat used/beaten up, could you be more clear on what exactly bothers you about it?
    – user11538
    Aug 11, 2021 at 5:24
  • @Trae Thanks for the reply. The alternating colors of the pages isn't intentional; I'm almost certain of this. The darker pages became that way over time--all of the pages originally being of the same color (creamy white). I'm wondering why only a pattern of the pages happened to change like this. Was it at one time a tactic that publishers used to save money--by alternating cheaper paper (that degrades quickly) with more expensive paper, or what?
    – Lijishe
    Aug 11, 2021 at 6:30
  • Nazis are considered to be "brown" because of their brown uniforms. That has nothing to do with these pages.
    – Elmy
    Aug 11, 2021 at 6:33
  • Are the non-discoloured pages perhaps those that contain printed images? As far as I know, it is common to use higher quality paper for that.
    – Joachim
    Aug 11, 2021 at 9:04
  • 1
    Interesting thought @Joachim, and would be a good reason for the 2 batches in my answer. That's a large proportion of the book to have colour plates though, and books bound like that tend to use full signatures of plates. Now you mention it, some of my oldest books with unyellowed paper use the same smooth stuff as used for colour plates, for their plentiful and very detailed B&W line drawings, that wouldn't be clear on cheap pulp.
    – Chris H
    Aug 11, 2021 at 13:04

1 Answer 1


This is a bit of a guess, but I reckon the printer had 2 different batches of paper on the go, of different qualities. Look carefully next to the spine and you'll see it's bound in 9 signatures, 2B, 2W, 2B, 1W, 1B, 1W where B=brown and W=white. It's likely that the same effect will be visible in other copies from the same print run.

Each signature is printed and stitched, then assembled into the cover. The brown signatures were presumably printed on more acidic paper. As the acid can migrate from one page to the next, the sheet or two of white nearest a brown page to be a little yellowed. The effect is probably greater near the edges as ambient sources of acid also contribute. The brown pages/regions should be noticeably more brittle as well.

That looks like the 1961 (or '62 depending on source) cover; books I have of similar age show varying degrees of yellowing (e.g. 50s textbooks look good as new, many 70s novels are browned and have to be handled with care), so at roughly the same period a variety of papers were used.

  • Thanks for the info. You're right -- the browned pages are much more brittle. I suppose the printer either was forced out of logistical necessity to use two different types of paper; or the printer adopted it as a tactic to save money. I'm pretty sure this kind of page-color alternation is the first of its kind that I've seen.
    – Lijishe
    Aug 11, 2021 at 15:29
  • They may have run out or may even have accidentally used the wrong stuff (cheap as used for the novels of that age I have, or expensive as used for textbooks which were meant to last) for some of the printing. The impression I get is that this book is serious non fiction but not an academic text, so far from a cheap novel, so I'm not sure what they'd use by default.
    – Chris H
    Aug 12, 2021 at 8:47

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