Tag Archive for acid free glue

How to Repair a Paperback Book

I fixed a broken marriage!  It was nearly torn in half, a fractured mess.  It was coming apart at the seams.  With a little time, patience, and glue, I was able to save The Marriage of Figaro: Vocal Score from the garbage bin.


This boocaught my book scouting eye for several reasons.  First, it is a Non-Fiction book.  Non-Fiction outsells Fiction.  Second, it is a musical score.  Scores cater to a specific audience and can command as much as a good textbook under the right circumstances.  Third, it is a large book.  It immediately stood out on the thrift store shelf from the other trade paperbacks and mass market paperbacks for sale.  Size is no guarantor of profit, but it is a distinguishing feature that separates this book from the rest of the pack.  Finally, I checked the book on the Amazon app on my iPhone and saw a favorable resale price.  I snatched it up.


Once in my hands, the book revealed its flaws.  From the shelf I could see its creased, dirty spine, but I did not expect the book to fall apart when I opened it!  I like to buy books in the best condition possible (Very Good to Like New) because they require the least work to resell and solidify my reputation as a seller of high quality items.  However, I occasionally pick up books in Acceptable to Good condition and recondition them to Good or Very Good depending on how the restoration turns out.  The Marriage of Figaro, in this broken state, was Acceptable at best; a usable copy to someone in desperate need of the text, but not a reliable, sturdy copy of a book that will see much use and handling as a textbook.  Priced to move for a quarter ($0.25), I took the small risk and decided to purchase it with the plan of repairing the binding.


For this repair, I used Helmar Professional Acid Free Glue.  It dries clear, forms a strong, flexible bond, and maintains its integrity due to its neutral pH.  Other glues can yellow if they are not pH neutral or are susceptible to degradation.  Make sure your glue is appropriate for the task.

Helmar Acid Free Glue, 8.45 Fluid Ounce Helmar Acid Free Glue, 8.45 Fluid Ounce


Helmar Acid Free glue has been specifically formulated for memory albums, book binding, mounting photographs, preserving old or precious books, documents, scrap books, most craft projects, etc. Featuring excellent adhesion to dense papers, high flexibility, long term life of the bond...


  • Acid free, neutral ph
  • Quick drying
  • Strong bond for heavier cardstocks
  • flexible bond
  • Will not yellow

Assess the Damage


She's split right down the middle.  All of the pages are present and intact, making the book suitable for repair.  If the book is missing any pages, it's probably not worth repairing unless it is an exceptionally scarce book.  The interior of the book is still attached to the cover, leaving us with the split spine.

Address the Damage



Lay a line of glue down the spine.  I use my paring knife to work the glue into problem areas and smooth it out before closing up the book.  Remove any stray glue that made its way onto the pages.  Carefully close the book and lay it down.


Make your spine as straight as possible, then place weights atop the book to aid the healing process.  Gravity is your friend.  In this example, I used an old iBook (essentially a brick at this point) and several hardcover books in lieu of a fancy book press.  Use what you have at your disposal.  If you have a few copies of Marv Levy's autobiography, go for it.  First Edition of The Notebook?  Just icing on the cake.

Now wait.  Be patient; do not touch your book for 24 hours.  The glue applies and dries quickly, but you should let it set for a day to ensure a quality repair.


Patience pays off.  After 24 hours, I opened my book and was happy with the repair.  I handled the book for a bit, riffling it back and forth, holding it as I would were I to use it for study, and I feel confident selling this book on the marketplace.  Once Acceptable, it is now Good, and ready to find a new home.



The book has a nice square binding, but the damage is evident to a keen eye.  Always disclose any damage or condition issues in your books.

The Marriage of Figaro (Le Nozze di Figaro): Vocal Score The Marriage of Figaro (Le Nozze di Figaro): Vocal Score
Author: Ruth Martin
List Price: $34.99
Sale Price: $25.72
  Eligible for free shipping!
17 new from $25.72  27 used from $16.23


(Vocal Score). Italian/English. Translated by Martin.


  • 496 Pages
  • Editor or Translator: Ruth Martin
  • Composer: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
  • Publisher: G. Schirmer, Inc.
  • Softcover