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EcommerceBytes-Update, Number 67 - April 07, 2002 - ISSN 1528-6703     4 of 11

Simple Book Repair for Booksellers, Part 2

By Craig Stark

April 07, 2002

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In a previous article on purchasing inventory in used bookstores, I recommended looking hard at stapled booklets as candidates for resale. Often one can find items in this format that, for one reason or another, are of significant interest to online buyers and yet reasonably priced in B&M (bricks and mortar) venues http://www.auctionbytes.com/cab/abu/y201/m12/abu0059/s02/index_html.

One downside is that booklets, especially the stapled kind, just don?t stand up well over time. After a moderate amount of use, it?s not uncommon for the cover (or wrappers) to detach from the staples and/or to break into two pieces after repeated folding and unfolding, or for interior pages to come loose. Once this happens, the booklet becomes far less desirable and, in some buyers? minds, near worthless. The good news is that this damage is readily repairable and, because a damaged item can usually be purchased for next to nothing, potentially quite profitable. http://www.auctionbytes.com/cab/abu/y202/m04/abu0067/images/image1.jpg

Repairing the damage begins with a product that nearly everyone is familiar with: Scotch Magic Tape. At first glance, using tape might seem to be an amateurish, if not altogether foolhardy approach to book repair. If you?ve seen the damage conventional scotch tape can wreak on ex-library books with dust jackets taped to the boards or torn pages, you might scoff at this suggestion. But there are reasons why this specific product (and please keep in mind that I?m referring only to the specific 3M brand of Magic Tape and not its imitators) is unusually well adapted to booklet repair.

Because of its matte finish and near colorless hue, Magic Tape seems to disappear when applied to paper, making repairs nearly invisible. Over time, it won?t yellow, ooze adhesive, shrink, bleed through to the opposite side of the page it?s taped to, or crack. It?s also anti-corrosive, flexible even after repeated bending, usually can be repositioned within a few minutes of application, and will not shadow in the copying or picture-taking process. Conventional scotch tape possesses none of these qualities. Sound good? It is. So good that even library supply company Brodart markets it as an archival product.

Actual repair couldn?t be simpler. Whether or not the cover is partially split or split entirely, it?s always a good idea to apply the tape to the entire hinge, top to bottom, and of course, always on the inside of the cover. (Note that it?s also an option to re-staple the booklet without reinforcing the hinge with tape. The condition of the booklet itself should help you make this decision.)

First, I pull enough tape off the reel so as to comfortably hold the piece in both hands and still more than span the height of the cover. If the cover is partially split, it?s a fairly straightforward process to apply the tape to the un-split portion first then I gradually press it down along the split portion while carefully pinching the split edges together with my free hand. Sometimes it?s also possible to close the holes left by the staples by pressing down on them from the opposite side of the cover. If you don?t get things quite lined up, the tape will almost always pull off without doing damage to the paper.

In the case of a cover that?s in two pieces, it works best for me to apply the tape to one side first, overlapping it by half, then turning it upside down on the work surface and applying the other, un-taped half to it, being very attentive to lining up the edges before pressing down. Once things are lined up to your satisfaction, trim off the excess tape, fold the cover, and crease it. http://www.auctionbytes.com/cab/abu/y202/m04/abu0067/images/image2.jpg

Next, remove the old staples from the remaining pages. On older booklets, they?re frequently rusted or at the very least somewhat brittle. It?s always best to remove them from the inside. I?ve found that using a small, flexible putty knife in combination with needle-nosed pliers usually enables me to bend back the prongs and ease them out without doing additional damage to the paper immediately surrounding them.

The final step is re-stapling. Most staplers have a limited throat capacity and usually can?t be used for any but the smallest booklets.

If the booklet has a limited number of pages, it might be possible to roll one half of it over and insert it in your stapler, but this can be tricky, not to mention nearly impossible with thicker booklets.

Fortunately, both Bostich and Swingline make what is called either a saddle or long-reach stapler that can be purchased for around $40 and are specifically designed for stapling booklets. Both have throat capacities of 12 inches, rulers on the beds, and adjustable guide fences that can be positioned precisely. Once you measure the width of the booklet from one edge to the center, you simply slide the fence to the appropriate position, insert the booklet against it, and staple. http://www.auctionbytes.com/cab/abu/y202/m04/abu0067/images/image3.jpg

As a precaution against movement of the pages relative to each other, before inserting the booklet into the stapler, I clamp the far edges of the book with three vinyl-tipped spring clamps. I also mark with a pencil a reasonable location for the new staples, trying to stay as far removed from the original locations as possible because the paper near these holes may be degraded. It?s a matter of judgment whether to use two staples or three. Both the size of the booklet and its thickness will determine this. Again, if you make a mistake here and shoot a staple off center, it?s relatively easy to remove it and start over.

That?s it! The entire process takes only a matter of a minute or two, and the result is a booklet that will now survive many more years of use. http://www.auctionbytes.com/cab/abu/y202/m04/abu0067/images/image4.jpg

AUTHOR'S DISCLAIMER: As noted in Part I of this series, no attempt is made to advise you on either the judiciousness of proceeding with this type of repair or any ethical issues that might arise from disclosing (or not) the specific work that has been done on a given item. If you have any doubts, I would strongly recommend that you either consult an expert in the field first or err on the conservative side by doing no work at all. If repairs are accomplished, it might be wise to disclose the details up front to your buyer. (An obvious example of opting for no work would be a vintage comic book. In this case, most collectors would frown on the presence of tape no matter how well it restored the integrity of the item. Repaired booklets with content value only and limited dollar value might, on the other hand, be candidates for non-disclosure.) Part 1 of this series can be found at http://www.auctionbytes.com/pages/abu/y202/m03/abu0066/s03.

About the author:

Craig Stark is a full-time online bookseller and former Editor of The Bookologist, a newsletter from the publisher of AuctionBytes.

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