A retired librarian and a grandmother who loves to "save the world, one book at a time!"
How to Fix the Spine of a Book: A Guide to Mending a Well-Loved Book
Sometimes a book gets broken when it is loved too much. My granddaughter loved her first Bible and read it almost every day. She was less than five years old at the time, but she had been taught not to treat books badly. Her librarian grandmother made sure of that! But sometimes, general loving wear and tear resulting in the need for repairs no matter how careful we are.
If you have a beloved child's book with a broken spine like this one, I hope these instructions for making this repair will help you out. If you need more information on mending books, you can visit the Dartmouth online book repair site. Scroll down to find the link.
Here are the supplies that you will need to easily mend a book's spine:
- Scissors to trim loose paper
- Brushes: a general-purpose one-inch paintbrush to dust the book off and a small "pointed" one to apply glue. See the photos below to see the brushes I used.
- PVA Glue, aka white glue, but not "school glue" (I have included some of my choices for glue further down the page.)
- Bamboo skewers (yes, the kind you use to make shish kabobs!)
- Thick rubber bands
- A small cup of clean water with a small amount of soap for washing out the brushes
Please note, I am not a professional book restoration artisan.
Good Glue for Book Repairs
Step 1. Trim Loose Paper
Trim loose paper if necessary. Be gentle and careful.
Step 2. Dust the Spine
Dust the spine and areas to be repaired with a brush. I used an inexpensive 1-inch paintbrush from a big box hardware store. It would not hurt the book if you applied a little glue to the textblock on top of the brown paper that you see on this book. Let that glue dry before you proceed to finish the repair.
Step 3. Apply the Glue
Applying glue where the spine will be touching the book (joint). You do not need to apply the glue to the cardboard spine cover.
Step 4. Continue Applying the Glue
Apply glue to the corner of the textblock, too. Remember to clean the brush with warm water and soap if you want to use the brush again.
Step 5. Brace the Book to Let the Glue Dry
Gently rub the spine where the glue was applied.
Put a bamboo skewer in the joint channel and hold it in place with rubber bands. Leave the book alone for at least half a day.
Another Excellent Adhesive to Repair Books
A Book Repair Manual From Dartmouth Library
- Book Repair Manual
An easy to navigate website from the Dartmouth Library. I have used this source many times to refresh my mind on how to best make a repair to a much loved book. Remember, always do your research before you attempt to make any kind of repair.
© 2012 Mickie’s Little Red Wagon
If you have any questions about this kind of book repair, please feel free to ask. I will try to be prompt.
David on April 27, 2018:
You were 100% correct in saying that the book was not very well made. Unfortunate, like most products we get nowadays, practically all products today are not very well made. It is all about the money and no pride goes into the making of products. As a professional bookbinder who hand makes all of his products, your instructions and repair here very good. Of course this is really a temporary repair that will not hold up for a long time, it is a good fix for the situation you were in at the time. Congratulations on your repair work.
Diane on January 18, 2017:
This is really helpful, thanks! You should also update your link to the recommended glue, because that one has a 1-2 month shipping time.