Should I repair a damaged book?
Repairing or rebinding a book is unlikely to increase its value and may devalue it. A book’s history (including its wear and tear) is part of its value and interest to collectors and rare book libraries. Generally the more valuable, rare or historically important the book, the more reason not to have it repaired.
Repairing a book does not necessarily mean it will last longer. It is better to protect and stabilise damaged books or bindings by wrapping them in an acid-free tissue or placing them in archival boxes.
Never apply pressure sensitive tapes (e.g. Sellotape, masking tape), self-adhesive labels or repair tapes to books, as they will cause staining and damage.
Leather dressings and polishes are potentially damaging and should not be used.
If you do want to repair a book, consult a professional conservator. The New Zealand Conservators of Cultural Materials website has a directory of professional conservators in New Zealand.
Some things to bear in mind when having a book repaired:
- Repairs should be as minimal as possible. All the original parts of the book can be re-used.
- Don’t throw any of the book’s parts away. Often the first few pages of a book have important personal history written on them.
- Pages should not be trimmed, even if they are worn at the edges.
- Missing parts of a book should not be replaced with facsimile pages
- Only reversible adhesives should be used.
- Repairs should be sympathetic to the original item; a bright white end paper may not suit a book that has old, cream-coloured pages.