In Bookbinding 101, we briefly mentioned that most modern hard cover books are made up of groups of signatures that are sewn or glued together.
Run a bone folder down the fold in the center of the signature, close the signature and let it dry overnight under light weights.
At this point it’s important to remind you that a signature is a group of leaves that are always folded in the center so each leaf makes up 4 pages.
If a section of the text block has separated from the super, it us often possible to reattach it by brushing Norbond adhesive along the back edge of the loose section and reinserting it firmly against the super. When a glued text block has separated into multiple sections, I’ve had good results gluing all of the loose sections to a strip of double-stitched binder tape, allowing that to dry and then reattaching it inside the cover. With that we’ve covered most of the repairs inside of a book that you would want to tackle in a typical library that doesn’t have someone trained in book restoration on staff. As always, feel free to use the link below to post any comments or questions and I’ll respond.
John IsonJohn Ison retired in 2011 after working with Demco for more than 25 years, most recently as the Director of Library Relations. While you will encounter many methods of binding, the two most common types of modern books are hard cover and paperback. In mass market paperbacks, each page is an individual sheet and is glued into the paper cover at the spine. Notice in the illustration on the far left that the arrow pointing to the top area of the book is labeled “Tube.” The tube is the gap in the spine area between the cover and the text block of most hardbound books. In books that are sewn together and in many that are glued, pages are gathered into groups called signatures. This lining is applied to books with a cloth super so that the adhesive used to glue the super to the text block does not stick the tube closed. The hinges are located where the rigid front and back cover boards meet the spine of the cover.
If a loose hinge has gone untreated for some time, you may notice that the end papers over the super in the hinge are tearing or that the super itself is starting to tear.
Demco also has 3 types of pressure-sensitive hinge tapes which eliminate the need to give liquid adhesive time to dry.

If you have worked through all of the past Book Doctor blog posts, you’re able to handle most of the common repairs needed inside the book. If the signature was originally stitched together you will often find that the individual leaves within it are also separating from one another. When the Norbond is dried, simply run a bead of adhesive along the outside of the fold and insert the signature back into the text block against the super. Several leaves are nested, glued or sewn together along the fold, and then glued or sewn to the super, along with all of the other signatures which make up the text block. These are books in which each page is a separate sheet glued to the super or the inside of the cover. Be sure to place a piece of waxed paper into the book on both sides of the reattached section so any excess adhesive doesn’t stick the pages together. The pamphlet Demco Collection Care Guide and the Demco Collection Care DVD are both available to help you through your book repair challenges. During that time he conducted over 300 book repair workshops, wrote the Demco Collection Care Guide, and wrote and produced the Demco Collection Care DVD.
In my live workshops I always started by reviewing the various types of book bindings and the names of the many parts that make up books to be sure everyone understood what we were dealing with. Since they are assembled using hot glues which will dry and become brittle, paperback books will lose pages or come apart completely over time.
This illustration will be helpful in creating a common language and understanding of each part of a book and how they interrelate. Since the hinges must be flexible in order for the book to open, they are usually not well reinforced and are the weakest area of a book’s binding. This is always a bad assumption as a loose hinge is an early warning sign of serious problems that can develop in the near future.
Take care not to allow the adhesive to get into the tube as this will cause it to stick closed and place strain on the binding when the book is opened. In this post we’ll detail some repairs to the text block and move to some basic techniques to spruce up a worn or damaged cover in the next installment. Use a folder to ensure the signature is pressed in securely, close the book and let it dry overnight with some rubber bands around it.

If each page is an individual flat sheet — not folded in the center — the book is perfect bound construction. Looking at the top of the spine, the book consists of a number of signatures (groupings of pages) bound together. You’re most likely familiar with some of the terms shown in the illustration below, but I bet there will be a few new ones for you. If the book was originally assembled with a tube, it’s imperative that you DO NOT do anything during repairs that damages the tube or causes it to stick together. As shown in the first illustration below, a loose hinge is present as the text block begins to tear away from the inside of the cover. When you have an even coat of adhesive over the area that has torn loose, smooth it with a plastic folder and simply close the book. When time allows though, I prefer working with the liquid adhesive as I am able to slip the tape exactly where I want it. If a page, or a group of pages, pulls loose from this type of binding simply glue it back to the super as described in Bookbinding 101. All that said, many poorly-bound books are not assembled with a tube in the first place and the text block will often tear away from the cover in normal use. In the past several years it has become common to use an adhesive to assemble the signatures rather than sewing them. You will generally use the same materials and techniques for in-house repairs to both sewn and glued hard cover books. In general Perfect bound books are not as durable as books assembled using either sewn or glued signatures.

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