How to Repair Old Books

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One of the best things about traditional books is how they can be passed from one owner to the next. However, as a book passes through owners, it can be subject to various types of wear and tear. Fortunately, it is not as difficult as you think to remedy these issues yourself. With binding or book glue, you can reattach pages that have fallen out of the spine. This same glue can be used to fill any spaces that might have appeared in the pages that comprise the book, as well as patching any damage to the spine itself. With the application of binder tape, you will also be able to refasten a cover that has detached from the text block.

In certain instances, it may be necessary to reduce a gap that has occurred between the spine and the pages of a hardcover book. In order to accomplish this repair, you will need the following materials:

  • Knitting Needles
  • Wax Paper
  • Flat Plastic
  • Book Glue

If possible, put the book glue in a tall bottle, as doing so will give you the ability to entirely coat the knitting needle with glue to render the application of the glue more effective.

Step 1: Take the hardcover book you need to repair and stand it upright, with the spine aligned vertically. Then open the pages all the way, as far as possible without causing additional deterioration to the book’s spine.

Step 2: Take the knitting needle and cover it with book glue (this is the step that will be most easily accomplished by filling a tall bottle with the adhesive).

Step 3: Once the knitting needle is evenly coated in book glue, slide it into the space that has formed between the spine and the pages. Once it has been inserted the length of the spine, use a twirling motion to coat the space between the spine and text block with the book adhesive. Should the gap extend for the entirety of the spine, it may be necessary to repeat this process until the entirety of the gap has been sealed with book glue.

Step 4: After the gap has been filled with glue you will lay the book flat on its side and press the text block firmly into the spine. Take the plastic piece you gathered along with your other materials and use it to secure the endpaper within the open hinge of the cover, thereby ensuring the pages will not be torn out of the book when it is opened after the glue has dried.

Step 5: Before closing the book, place a portion of wax paper between the text block and the cover of the book. This will prevent the cover of the book from sticking to the front pages and damaging them when the book is opened again.

Step 6: Once this is complete, close the book and take the plastic piece, running it along the indentation that occurs near the spine, along the cover’s hinge. Make sure that you use the plastic piece to apply pressure evenly along this hinge.

Step 7: Because you want to make sure that the book glue binds the book together in the proper manner, it will be necessary to press the book overnight. This process can be achieved with reasonable ease. First, place the book on a flat board. Place one clean knitting needle along the crease in the hinge between the book and the board, and another clean needle along the crease on top. Then place a second board on top, and stack several heavy books on top of the pile. Leave this stack overnight to allow the book glue to harden, thereby ensuring the repairs you have made to the book will have time to become permanent. While you may be eager to open your new book, be sure and give sufficient time for the book glue to dry.

Although it can be frustrating when a used book has damage to its spine, it is possible to easily repair that damage by using this helpful method. In the event that some gaps still exist between the spine and the text block, simply repeat the same steps and seal any remaining spaces.

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