Books are great. Books are knowledge. Books are imagination, fun and inspiring. Books are expensive. Books also fall apart. They get damaged, abused and broken. What does one do with these books when they are beyond repair? When they are tattered? When they look tired?
I have always been conflicted with the answer. Let me tell you why. Many years ago my father started a bookbinding business. It specialized in finishing for the printing industry. We received the printed sheets from the printers and bound the book professionally into its finished product. We also specialized in the repair of reading books. Paperback and hard bound. Journals and theses. We serviced the municipality, school and private libraries. We still do.
The paperback book was originally designed to be read only 4 or 5 times. It is far less expensive to produce than a hard cover. Therefore it is far easier on your budget and allows you to purchase more books. The obvious downside being the life cycle of the book. The glues used are also seldom of great quality to keep the cost of production down.
The process of repairing and strengthening a paperback is methodical and detailed. The old glue is cut off with a powerful guillotine. The pages are re glued using no ordinary wood glue. It is specialized for the bookbinding industry. Yes, paper is made of wood but paper is used under different conditions and has different needs. It needs to be flexible and it needs to bind the fibers of the paper. The spine is fan glued, allowing a penetration of 5-7mm of glue into the spine. In the gluing process, gauze or webbed cotton strands, is added to strengthen the spine. A brand new end sheet and 2 thick pieces of board are now added and then the cover. Finally it is given a trim on all 3 sides and your book looks virtually brand new. Out with the old and in with the new, ready to hold up to any user abuse. It is an amazing transformation and is perfect for brand new as well as old books. Almost all books can be repaired this way and breathes new life into old worn books. I’ve seen it a thousand times. Especially useful when you have out-of-print books.
Why I am conflicted about all this is because I offer book repair products through Don Gresswell Library Products and I offer the book repair service through our sister company B.K. Bookbinders. Either way, I am extremely proud of both.
I always try to use this blog as a means for education and to show a different view point. I never use it to directly sell but I do feel that everybody needs to know what is available from time to time.