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The Repair of Damaged and Worn Books

"Many thanks for my book - it's wonderful to see it back in the best of health" 
- J.C.
 
 "The repair is superb, so I expect it will survive another 114 years!"
- L.W.
 
"I am very pleased with the books and would like to congratulate you on the quality and expertise of your work."
- K.K.
 
 
Many people have books which hold some special meaning or have value - either intrinsic or from a historical or family perspective. This might be an old leather bound volume handed down from past generations, a large family bible perhaps, or even a children's book you read all those years ago! Eventually books wear out, especially if they have experienced heavy use. The board fall off, the hinges crack, or pages start to become detached.  
 

Signature Bindings can offer a repair service for many of these types of problems. Of course every book is different and every repair may require a different approach. It is notoriously difficult to give a price structure for repairs, since there are so many variables. So the process we offer is intended to simplify this:

 
What to do next . . . 
1. Contact us by phone or e-mail to tell us about your book. If you are able to send photos by e-mail that would be really useful so we can see the condition for ourselves!
2. Having explored some basic questions about the book, we will give you an estimate based on the information you have given. 
3. If the estimate is acceptable, you can then send the book to us by post or courier. Please remember to include your address and e-mail details. (If you live locally, your are of course welcome to deliver it personally and discuss it there and then, but check first to make sure we will be around) 
4. Once we have seen the book we will give you a firm price quotation in writing by e-mail including a detailed list of the work to be done and approximately how long it is expected to take to complete.
5. You will then either give permission for the work to go ahead or choose not to proceed, in which case we will send the book back to you by standard post. 
 
 
 
Sending Your Book: Signature Bindings is fully insured to protect against accidental damage to your books whilst in our possession. However, it is always recommended that books are mailed to us using a 'signed for' and insured service such as Royal Mail special delivery. Signature Bindings cannot accept responsibility for books lost or damaged on their way to us.
For books that weigh more than 2Kg when boxed up, we recommend using Parcel2Go.com, a hub website for most of the well known courier services. This is the most reliable and cost-effective option we have found, usually costing less than £10 for a UK delivery, including collection. 
 
 
How Much will it Cost?
 
This is understandably one of the first questions we are asked in relation to repairs, and unfortunately one of the most difficult to answer without first seeing the book. By sending us images of the book showing the areas in need of repair, we should be able to give you a reasonable estimate. But will always give you a firm price before starting work.

The cost is based primarily on the time required to do the work plus a little for materials, so the more work required the higher the cost. A relatively simple replacement cloth binding could be from around £60 - £80 whereas to replace a spine on a small old leather book might cost from around £95 - £170. Where the text block is falling apart and the book needs resewing and the old boards reattached with new endpapers, prices may start from around £125 upwards. 
 
The majority of work we receive usually falls into the price range of £75 to £195.
 
Sometimes the intrinsic value of the book does not justify a repair, unless there is some sentimental  or family attachment you wish to preserve. Family Bibles are a good example of this. A typical repair of a large victorian family Bible might cost between £195 to £275, although the book itself might perhaps only be worth £50 - £100. However, frequently there are family trees, inscriptions and historical information included inside which need to be preserved and handed down to future generations. This is where the real value often lies for the family concerned.
 
We hope this gives you some feel for the possible costs involved in book repair, but stress that every book is different and we would really need to see yours before we can give you a firm price. However, we don't charge for giving advice and we would be happy to give you an estimate without any obligation. Prices indicated above exclude return postage.
 
 
  
Click Here to see an illustrated overview of some of the most common elements of book repair 
 
 Some examples of typical repair work:
 
 
 
This is a typical 18th Century leather bound book in very poor condition. Although the text block itself is firm, the front board is detatched, the spine heavily damaged and the corners badly rubbed. The inner joints were also split.
 The spine was replaced in calf skin, dyed to match the rest of the book, and the board reattached. The corners were repaired with new leather and the boards treated with a wax based finish. New pastedowns were added and the inner joints secured. A label and gold tooling were added to match this book's sister volume.
 
 
Book with typical damage due to high wear and tear. One board is detatched, spine is detatched and corners are heavily worn 
Repaired book. A new spine has been applied and the old spine laid on. New headbands have been attached to increase the strength of the book. Corners have been repaired and the cover lightly cleaned. 
 
 
 
This book was a typical 19th Century binding with a great pictorial gilt cover. However the boards were fully detatched and heavily worn, and the text block was split in several places. The endpapers were in need of repair, but had a family bookplate attached which needed saving.
The book block was resewn by hand and made tight. New endpapers were attached and the family pookplate restored. A new spine was made with the old spine laid on top. New headbands were attached and the corners of the boards repaired. The book was given a light clean to remove some of the surface dirt which had accumulated over the years. 
 
 
Typical paperback book, well used and well loved. The cover has totally detached from the book and has several tears and the spine is becoming brittle and is in pieces. The text block is reasonably secure, but the pages are becoming loose. 
Repaired paperback. The spine has been replaced and the text block tightened. Tears in the cover have been repaired and the whole book strengthened for continued use.
 
 
 
 
 

 
 An extremely well used and well loved hardback book from the early 1800's. The original tight back spine has split in a number of places, and consequently the text block has fallen apart. One of the boards is lost entirely and the other board badly worn. This is an ideal example of a book in need of a complete rebind.
Rebound  book. The client requested a quarter leather binding in brown, in keeping with the period of the book. The book will continue to be well used, so the binding needed to be tough and strong. The text block was partly resewn, new borads added and a leather hollow back spine applied with matching labels.