How to Fix the Cover of a Paperback Book
Paperback books make up the bulk of most people's personal libraries. They are highly portable, thus taking an amazing amount of abuse. Eventually, many of these books require some degree of repair. In particular, either one or both covers are torn or have come off, or the entire cover is detached from the pages. Both types of repair are easy and inexpensive to do. Repairing your book will prolong its life, whether you keep it or give it away.
Repairing a Damaged or Loose Cover
Measure the height of the book. Add 2 inches to this measurement.
Measure the entire width of the book. Place one end of the measuring tape even with the front edge of the front cover. Wrap the tape across the front cover, snugly around the spine of the book and across the back cover to its front edge. The spine is the bound edge of the book.
Measure the width of the part of the cover that opens. Add to total width measurement.
Using the ruler, measure and draw cutting lines according to your book's measurements on the paper backing of the clear contact paper. Cut the section out.
Tack torn edges or loose cover into place with a small amount of tape. Don't use it to repair the whole tear or completely reattach the cover; this is only to hold things in place as you apply the contact paper.
Peel backing halfway off the contact paper, going width-wise.
Set the spine of the book against folded-back edge of the backing paper with 1 inch of exposed contact paper extending beyond the top and bottom edges of the book. Do this with the undamaged cover facing the exposed contact paper. Lay the cover of the book loosely onto the contact paper. Turn everything over. Smooth out the contact paper to adhere it and remove bubbles. Turn over. Fold the remaining exposed contact paper onto the inside of the cover. Press to adhere.
Peel off the rest of backing paper. Roll book spine onto the contact paper. Continue rolling over until the damaged cover is on the contact paper. Turn everything over. Smooth the contact paper to adhere it and remove bubbles, especially where the damage is. Turn it over. Fold the remaining exposed contact paper onto the inside of the cover. Press to adhere.
Trim excess contact paper from top and bottom edges with scissors.
Use a piece of tape slightly shorter than the height of the book to reinforce the cover at the spine on the inside of the cover if the cover had been detached.
Regluing a Loose, but Intact, Cover
Apply a thin layer of rubber cement to the spine of the bound pages and to the spine of the cover.
Put the two glued spines together.
Lay the book flat on a table with the spine off the edge. Use the handle of a table knife to apply pressure back and forth along the length of the spine for 30 seconds. Let the glue set for one hour.
Use a piece of tape slightly shorter than the height of the book to reinforce the cover at the spine on the inside of both covers.
- Rubber cement
- 3/4-inch wide clear tape
- Clear contact paper
- Cloth tape measure
- Table knife
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