Don't throw away that favorite hardcover book just because it's damaged.
Depending on the problem, some easy-to-do repairs may restore the book to good condition.- Materials. Ordinary white glue works well on the book's flexible joints and is good for most other repairs. You can also buy or make library paste for use on endpapers and cover. To make paste, add six parts water to one part flour and heat to a boil, stirring constantly to eliminate lumps. Homemade paste is best used the same day.
You'll need a small brush to spread the glue. Depending on the repair, other tools that you may need are probably at hand. They include a knitting needle, table knife, clean cloth, waxed paper, onionskin paper, self-adhesive cloth tape and an elastic bandage.
- Wobbly cover. To fix a wobbly cover, open the book and place it face down. Pull both covers straight out. Use a knitting needle to apply white glue along the joints inside the spine. Close the book and weight it. Allow it to dry for 24 hours.
If the part of the cover that goes over the binding has broken away, brush white glue along the spine's two long edges next to the front and back covers. Don't cover the entire spine. Align the loose cover flap with the edges and press it into place. Rub a flat instrument, such as a table knife, on the hinges to force out excess glue and use a dampened white cloth to wipe it away. Cover the spine with waxed paper and wrap an elastic bandage around the book. Let it dry for 24 hours.
- Endpapers. To fix an endpaper cracked at the hinge, apply a thin bead of white glue and press it well into the crack. Cut a waxed paper strip a few inches longer than the book. Fold it lengthwise and position the fold over the glued area. (Excess glue will ooze onto the waxed paper, not the endpaper.) Close the book and weight it for 24 hours. Strip off the waxed paper. Then cut a piece of self-adhesive cloth tape (available in craft supply stores) just long enough to fit lengthwise and apply it over the hinge for added strength.
- Torn, loose pages. Mend a torn page by placing waxed paper under the page. Align the torn edges. Brush a thin bead of white glue on the tear. Cover it with onionskin paper, rub gently and weight the repaired section. When the glue is dry, peel off any excess paper.
To reattach a loose page, cut a narrow strip of paper the length of the book. Fold it lengthwise and brush white glue onto the back. Place one half on the loose page and the other half on the next page. Put waxed paper across the paper strip. Close the book and let the glue dry.
Here are other book-repair tips:
- Dog-eared corners? Put a sheet of paper on top and press with a warm iron.
- To avoid excess soiling, dust books with your vacuum dusting-brush attachment, a shaving brush or a soft paintbrush.
- Clean stained leather bindings with saddle soap or neat's-foot oil. Apply sparingly and gently with your fingers or a piece of felt, cheesecloth or chamois. Wait several hours then repeat.
- Run a dehumidifier in a damp room containing books. Wipe mold and mildew off the bindings and pages with a soft clean cloth. If the pages are moldy, wipe them with a white cloth dampened with alcohol, then fan out the pages to dry. Or sprinkle some cornstarch in the pages and brush it off after a few hours.
- If water is spilled on a book's pages, put the book in your freezer to draw out moisture and loosen stuck pages.