Turning a paper back into a hardback – Unofficial History 1970, by Field Marshal Sir William Slim, Corgi Books
This binding was not a valuable book financially, but one whose owner was extremely fond of it. Being a late twentieth century paperback, it was not made to last. The paper is brittle and the binding was in a perfect style, which, ironically, is so far from perfect that one must think the term was made in jest.
A perfect binding implies that loose sheets are stacked and adhered at the spine edge with a thick layer of PVA or similar adhesive. This is then covered with a paper cover, which is adhered over the heavy spine, and tada! You have the modern paperback. Note the lack of sewing, spine lining or any form of reinforcement to keep the book from falling apart. This makes a very clear case as to why your regular paperback will often fall apart on you when reading. If, by some miracle, you can keep the book free from dog ears and spine breakages, it won’t be long before the adhesive gives up the ghost all on its own and falls apart anyway – as mentioned, decidedly less than “perfect”.
In order to create a hardback, as requested by this client, I treated this book quite similarly to a thesis binding – stab-sewn and covered as a quarter-bound flat back. The result was very pleasing, and with a simple cover design and title on the spine, it now has a new lease of life that should last for years to come.
If you have a similar book that you would like to preserve for the future in this way, please do get in touch to discuss the particulars.
TEXTBLOCK has brittle paper, which is discolouring at the edges. BINDING is perfect bound and still in tact at present.
TEXTBLOCK – Keep original cover as first page. – Create holes adjacent to the spine and sew in pamphlet style. – Adhere plain black endpapers. – Line spine with cloth and manilla lining. BINDING – Create new cover – flat back and quater-bound with black cloth spine and printed cover in the style of the original. – Case-in and finish.
Well, many apologies for not updating this earlier – I actually have lots of updates, but have just not gotten round to sitting down and writing something!
So I will start with what we are working on at the moment in our studio time (Fridays). We have all been asked to bring in dilapidated books, preferably ones that require re-sewing. Togther we’ve brought in a range of interesting books, mine is actually something I had on my bookshelf at home already. It is a cloth case bound book that belonged to my grandfather – a very colourful cookery book from the 60’s/70’s, which I rescued from a clear out some years back with the thought of conserving it, so am quite chuffed I’m actually getting round to doing it! Some pictures below show the book as it looks like in its current state, it also has a lot of little inserts in it with my grandparent’s and mother’s writing, which is quite entertaining!
Apparently the tape is going to be tough to get off
The endpapers are an integral part of the book,
and can’t be discarded and replaced as they
may be in another binding, so I will have
to try and get them off…
Our tutor will be coming round to each of us and explaining how we must go about conserving our books, which will take time. So in the meantime, we have started three flat back books, to practice our binding techniques. Here are mine so far:
Nice and neat if I do say so myself!
As you can see I have been practicing using the sewing frame, which I’m starting to love a little bit – I’m not quite used to sitting sideways as they did in days past, as I can’t get my arm round the frame properly, however I’ve seen an etching of women sewing with their arms through the frame, which seems a lot more logical – so I might try that next! One of my classmates, Salvador, also told me that book sections were sewing in large batches on long stretches of tape, and then split up after sewing into separate books – so that’s some thing else to try!
I’ve also been practicing my marbling (again!!!), with a little more success this time – thanks to another classmate, Naomi, who has given me some Carragean moss for the ink to sit on, and some good instructions (previous attempts were so shameful, there were demoted to making cards!). So I am going to try and cover these books with my new papers – watch this space to see what they’re like – exciting!!!
This little book I made earlier in the summer for my mother’s birthday. The sections are a collection of Poetry booklets that came free with the Guardian and Observer newspaper over Christmas last year. This is something the broadsheets often do over the Christmas period and are a great thing to collect if you spot them early enough.
I sewed the sections together with tape and linen thread and then bound it as a quarter bound flat back book. The book is aptly covered with papers that I made with my mother on a day of artistic inspiration when trying to build up my paper manipulation collection! The case is the first one I’ve made since my classes at the City Lit, and I’m fairly pleased with it – it’s certainly not perfect and I need practice, but I’m sure it could be worse for a second attempt! Amazingly, I also found the perfect ribbon to match.
I’m glad to say that my mum was extremely pleased with it, but is still a bit scared to sit down and read it!
Yesterday was a good day, we didn’t have the board to start the slip cases, so the evening was a catch up evening – giving me the chance to finish my Flat back binding, which I managed and is now complete. This was the one I sent an image of some time back showing the card and the pink cloth on the spine and corners.
Well to finish it, I covered it in paper which I had made from the art part of the course, and then had to ‘case it in’. This you have to do fairly quickly – its covering the end paper with glue and sticking the text block onto the boards. This however is also the part which most easily goes wrong. Unfortunately due to it being the VERY last thing you do, it is also the most disastrous if it DOES go wrong, as you have to start from scratch! Things that could go wrong would be the skew-whiffing of the text block and misaligning it completely, or possibly over gluing, which might mean the covers bend or the glue seeps through the end-paper, or you don’t dry it properly and it goes through the rest of the book, as C&Ds did. All of which you can do nothing about!
Luckily, this was my most successful gluing yet, and I am thrilled to bits!
So, eight weeks in and I’ve been a bit more productive. You’ll see that I now have the corners on my 1/2 bound flat back book – very neat and tidy if I do say so myself, and have finished my disappearing spine pamphlet (called as such because you can’t see the spine). The latter is covered in more National Geographic collages and the 1/2 bound will be covered in some drawings I’ve done.
Unfortunately, when I was ‘casing in’ (sticking all together) my pamphlet (with owl), our teacher was also talking about the corners of the 1/2 bound (pink). She said if we were doing what I was doing to ignore her and she’d tell us again later, but considering I was the only one doing what I was doing, I got a bit distracted by listening to her as well, and now my beautiful owl pamphlet is wonky and I’m going to have to start from scratch. Hmph. Apparently this is a good thing (???), as the marking people like to see mistakes that are practiced and then rectified, still, I like the owl and I’m not sure I’ll find such a nice cover, so I am a little disappointed. Nevermind – practice makes perfect!
My last pamphlet is bowing a little, but apparently this is absolutely fine and is very acceptable in bookbinding, so that one is alright (that was the one with the trees on the front).