Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Bookmending - repair that repair!
Another book-repair post, largely information that my regular readers have run into here before, or knew anyway. It may be new to passers-by.
This is a case where I took a book apart because the bad repair job someone did on it was driving me nuts.
I try not to let people who repair books badly annoy me so much, but years as a librarian, facing well-meaning ladies who would put stripes of Scotch™ tape across the pages on each side of a binding break, and hand it to me with a beatific smile and an "I helped you by fixing this poor book" -- while I tried not to dive across the desk and conk them with it -- depleted my stock of patience. Which was never high.
Tape on pages doesn't hold a book together, it only pulls on the pages it's attached to, crumples and rips them, it makes a mess, why do they think it will help??
But anyway, this is different, and I ought to have a little more tolerance for people who glue the text block into the spine. It's wrong, but I grudgingly admit that it seems logical to them.
To any readers who don't know this :
The actual spine of a hardbound book is, 99% of the time, not supposed to adhere to anything.
This seems counterintuitive but it's true. The text block has a backing that extends onto the book cover, and attaches there only. Then the attached part gets covered up by the endpages.
Yes, really, trust me. Pull down any hardcover book and peer down inside its spine. You can. You can even hide notes and paper money in there if you want to. That's because it's unattached, OK?
Allow me to illustrate with a 2174-page 1935 Lincoln Library, which is huge enough for its structure to show clearly in a photo :
Back to the problem book I worked on: someone, many years ago, glued it back together by gluing the text block to the spine, and not only that, but didn't even place the text block correctly inside the cover. He/she slud (past tense of slide - implies sloppiness, as opposed the too-neat word "slid") it down to the bottom edge.
Here, I'm gently separating the spine from the text-block (the text-block is the complete bundle of actual pages). It's worth a very careful try, though in most cases, they won't separate and you need to leave it as is. In this case, the repair job was so old that the glue had become nice and brittle, and released the spine intact :
Fixed now. As well as I can fix it. The spine is now free from the pages, shown by the inserted dollar. It's more obvious in the Lincoln Library photo, further above. I can only make the book so neat after what it's been through, but handling it doesn't drive me nuts anymore.