Over Thanksgiving weekend I was lounging around my parents' house, looking for things to do. I was studying all the books on the shelves for one that I haven't read already when I came across my mom's battered and beaten copy of The Robe. I picked it up, and pieces of dust and linen and debris fell off in my hands.
The spine was falling completely off. The covers were attached by 80-year-old mull. The fabric of the cover was crumbling into dust as I looked at it.
I looked around to make sure that no one saw me, and I put the book in my suitcase.
After returning to Philadelphia, I took the book out of my bag and set it on my desk. There was a note inside it, yellowed with age, to my mom from my grandmother.
I thought, "I really hope I don't ruin this book."
I cut the covers off. I removed the backing from the text block, and tried my best to get rid of the ancient glue. I peeled up the pastedowns, praying that the thin paper would not rip.
Once the book was disbound and cleaned, I did a couple of minor repairs to fill in small losses with Japanese paper, but nothing major.
I put a fresh new piece of mull over the spine and gave it some brand new end bands. I used archival paper to line the spine.
The most difficult part of rebinding this book was going to be the color selection. I knew that I wanted the spine to be gray bookcloth, accented by something purple. My mom loves to quilt, and I thought I had the perfect paper picked out. It was a yuzen paper with a circular pattern in purple and gold. However, it was nowhere to be found. In the end, I selected a cool gray bookcloth for the spine and a blue yuzen paper for the cover. The pastedowns were going to be in black paper.
I kept the original spine and made it into a bookmark, and adhered the note from my grandmother into the front cover, along with a note of my own.
It turned out pretty well!
My mom was so excited to see it that she started re-reading it right away.
She keeps handing me more books to remake.
I’ll take that to mean that it was a successful Christmas.