Barnwell calls itself the country’s oldest family owned printer having been started in Aylesham, Norfolk, by the great great grandfather of Julian Barnwell, joint managing director with brother Lincoln.
In the early days books would have been a normal part of the product mix along with posters, brochures and other advertising material associated with a rural market town. The arrival of litho would bring an end to this for most printers, but not Barnwell. It continues to print books to this day.
“We are helping people self publish,” says Julian Barnwell. “We can get them registered with Nielsen and get the ISBN numbers. There are a lot of people that have a story in them, or have done a lot of research and have written a family history book or a book on local history.”
These are titles that slip past the major publishers and are too small for the dedicated book printers to bother with. “They are not geared up for this,” he says. The authors having dedicated several years to writing the book want to be involved as it is printed. This can be conversations about formats, papers and style. A lot will be case bound. Cost is not the most important factor.
“We enjoy working with these people and over the years we have met some great characters with some good stories. One book was about a father and son’s adventure in the Paris-Dakkar rally taking part in a pink Citroen.
“We will advise them on special substrates for the end papers for example.” Case binding is sent out to a few trusted partners, Gomer Press in west Wales included. Volumes can be 10-15 copies printed on Ricoh digital press though will generally be 500-2,000 copies printed on the Komori.
The company’s investment in an SRA1 Komori Lithrone H-UV has helped. There is no longer a question of adding coatings when printing on silks or uncoated papers. “With H-UV it simply doesn’t matter,” says Barnwell.
“We used to do a lot more books, but it is still significant. A printed book is still a very good medium to enjoy and absorb a lot of information rather than using a digital device.
“People find us through word of mouth or through picking up a book they like the look of. The name of the printer is on the title page. They see that and call us.”