Book Repair for BookThinkers

by Craig Stark

1 June 2009

Comb Binding Books

Printer Friendly Version

So I bought this book last month with the intention of reselling it for a profit. It was exceptionally clean and, at first glance, minus any significant flaws:

Until I got home, opened it and heard it crack:

And it didn't just crack in one place. I turned a few pages and every one of them detached from what is termed in the biz a "perfect-bound" book. The trouble with these thermal processes is that ten or twenty or so years down the road, depending mostly on glue composition and/or storage conditions, this is an all too common a result.

In the past I'd toss a book like this - in this case about a $50 potential sale down the drain. But at some point I wised up and stopped doing that. If you've sold much local history, you know that print runs are typically small, and a book like this might not have any other online comps. A shame to toss it because there's almost certainly buyers out there who would be very interested in its content - that is, if there was some way to return it to a functional state.

You may have experimented with re-gluing bindings like this. It can be done, but it can be tricky too. To my mind, it's a lot easier to comb bind it. Local history buyers almost never care how a book like this is bound - in fact, they might prefer a comb binding because it lies flat when opened. Also, a good number of local histories are comb bound in the first place; it's a cheap, easy do-it-yourself process.

Here's how:

The first thing you'll need is a comb binding machine. Since this technology that's been around a long time, there's a huge variety of choices out there in every price range. Generally, what you buy for bigger money is speed, so unless you're going to be doing a lot of binding, it doesn't make sense to empty your wallet. For my purposes, this one - a GBC CombBind C110 has been a good choice:

I priced this unit recently at OfficeMax - $199.00 + $13.93 tax = $212.93. A few minutes Googling, however, and it turned out that Amazon had one of the more competitive online prices at $117.72 (with free shipping if you're a Prime member). So, about two or three books of the type pictured above, and the machine will pay for itself.

 Subscribe in a reader

Comment Comment Comment Comment Comment Comment Comment Comment Comment