Thursday, January 14, 2010

Restoring Your Old Books or Switching Covers!

Restoring Your Old Books or Switching Covers!
(Next review will be around the 18th! My B-day message will be on the 17th!)

In The Secret Year, Colt found Julia’s journal after her death. The following can help you restore old books, or make sure that it NEVER happens to you by placing an actual book cover over your journal and hiding it with your books. You could even use The Secret Year’s cover for your own journal and give it a new journal cover of its own!

All of my favorite books are ones I have read to the point where the cover is ruined and the pages are close to falling out. While most would simply throw out old books and buy another, I am sentimental. I still have my copy of the very first YA science fiction novel I ever read. This book made me start wanting to read so much more and write novels of my own. The same novel that opened my eyes to not just one new world but many that lie between the covers of each book lining the shelves of my local library. So I found a way to save them – rebinding.

There are other tricks to saving a book you don’t want to throw away and even if you weren’t planning on throwing away a book and just don’t like the cover this can help you too. Personally, I like hardcover novels, but they are so expensive that many times I won’t spend the money and I will stick with the soft cover version. There is also the fact that most of the bookstores in my area only have hard cover books for a short amount of time before they switch to soft cover to save room. The first type of binding I will cover is hardcover. Though you can also bind a soft cover book into a hard cover binding as long as you are careful and follow the steps correctly.

Though I warn you now, this is not for the ‘faint of hearted do-it-yourselfer’. If you stop halfway through, or decide not to go through with it in the middle of the process, your book is ruined. So only read on if you truly feel you have the strength to go ahead and remove that old tattered cover and replace it with a new and shiny version that you can decorate in any way you want. I will also list some decorating options at the end of the process! Remember you do not have to follow the directions listed in terms of that you don’t have to do this yourself. There are also plenty of shops and companies that will do this type of thing for you. They can give you selection of covers (that you can still decorate after) and then you know the job will be done in a professional way.

Overview so you can decide if you are strong enough to go through with it:

Step One: Removing the original cover completely (You can set it aside for some of my decorating tips later!)

Step Two: Trimming the spine of the book! (hardest part)

Step Three: Attaching the endsheets, using the adhesive and attaching the backlining or super.

Step Four: First drying process

Step Five: Attaching a binding board (Bristol suggested) and Tyvek

Step Six: Attaching inlay

Step Seven: Attach your new cover!!!!

Step Eight: Trimming the page edges so that all of them line up again

Step Nine: Open and check out your wonderful work!

Step Ten: Decorate to your heart’s desire!!!

What you will need if you find you have the strength of heart:

Adhesive- Use glue machine or brush application. You will want it to be film building PVA for when it comes to gluing the spine.


• Binding board (Bristol if you want it to end up being soft cover)
• A way to press the book. As in put a large amount of pressure on it such as a pressing machine. You may be able to find a local store or school that may let you use their machine if needed. Or you can use a pile of textbooks if done correctly.
• Boards
• Backlining or Super
• Endsheets
• Something with amazing cutting powers!
• Something with a perfectly straight edge to use as a glue guard!

Please read through the following directions before you decide yes or no!

Removing your original cover:

Set your book on a table or flat surface. Make sure the book is completely flat! You cont want a ragged edge when you remove it. Take the front and back covers and pull them back just enough to where you will be able to grab them both. This means the pages of the book will be on the flat surface and the two covers hanging off of it. Place one hand on the pages and push down hard so that you can use the other hand and slowly work off the covers. Pull starting from the top on down. Make sure it is clean, but if you have some of the cover left on the spine that doesn’t matter too much because the new binding will be covering the spine either way. So that means fashionistas just doing this so that you can have any cover you want don’t worry about how it looks now, in just a while it will be worth your effort and look completely different!

Spine trimming time:

Using something with amazing cutting powers, you are going to trim the spine to remove the old glue and separate all of the pages. I would suggest using a guillotine. Yes I am serious and no I don’t mean the one used back in England to behead these same figures many of us read about at least once in our lives.

Sticky! Applying the adhesive ad drying:

You will need to fan glue the textblock using single fold endsheets. Then you will be applying the Backlining or Super. You will need to let this dry for about 30 minutes. Make sure you don’t keep going too soon or you could ruin all your hard work because the adhesive could go through the super when the book is pressed.

Attaching the Tyvek and boards:

You will not need a gluing card or something with a perfectly cut edge to base your glue lines off of and make sure you don’t get glue in areas you don’t want the glue to go. You will then be putting it against the edge of the spine or butting it against it so that you can apply adhesive from the edge of the guard to just beyond the super. I would give measurements but alas it depends on the size of the book. Many times a craft store can help you fine what you need and the different items needed.

Then you will be aligning the piece of Tyvek we talked about earlier over the spine and to the edge of the super. Make sure to add extra glue using the glue guard to the part left unglued. This part is also called the hinge joint. You will then need to glue your piece of binder board and place it just the smallest amount away from the spine, aligned with the bottom of the book or textblock. Turn over your book and repeat my last two steps listed.

Attach your inlay after cutting it (Bristol suggested):

You want to cut an inlay that matches up to your spine. Then you align the inlay with the spine and attach.

Attaching your new cover:

Here is where the decorating and cover part comes in. You will be attaching a piece of cloth or your cover. You can even re-attach your original cover if you would like or if your only problem previously had been pages falling out. I will give some tips on what to do here underneath the instruction so please scroll down for fashionista options or decorate your own way options. Or you can attach a cloth you can decorate later, your original cover, or a piece of material that you would find appropriate or enjoyable for this next step. You may want to read tips before attaching cover.

You will be gluing the cover or your choice material to the book. Then on to pressing the book. The edges should line up so that you know the entire book is being pressed and not just a portion. What I do is use my old textbooks and sit on them. I know a bit weird but then I know it works. But be careful if you do this and make sure they are lined up. You may want to put some other books around yours if it is a small one so that the pressure won’t be too bad but make sure you don’t put them too close or you could get glue on them. You will need for it to dry overnight so you can either keep it between a few other books or just make sure that there is enough pressure when drying overnight to make sure that the cover stays closed.

Trimming the pages:

Using your super cutting power tool you trim the edges so that the pages line up together again. They may not be lined up the same way they were before which is why this is a great idea!

Finally you’re done and you can open you newly covered book!!!!

Fahsionista tips:

Cloth, Leather, Scrap booking or anything you can think of can be added to your cover or even used as your cover. You can even add a picture of Nathan Bransford on the cover! Don’t forget a comment caption sticker with ‘MATSUTAKE!’ written in it. You can put any image you want but I would suggest one you won’t want to rip off in any short amount of time because you can only rebind one novel so many times. You can put black leather on your favorite darker novel or a Diary like cover on your ‘The Secret Year’. You could even put your own version of a cover as your actual cover. I love doing this when I find a book but don’t like the cover. This way you always have it your way. Luckily Nathan’s books never need this but it is still loads of fun.

You can also scrap book the front cover. Most craft stores have backgrounds, stickers and other scrap booking materials. You can even look online about scrap booking and find other options. You can choose your color, what you want it to say, the possibilities are endless. You can even do this to your journals and sketch books and put on actual book covers so that you can put them on your normal bookshelf and keep them hidden. Your secret diary can actually be kept a secret, no one finding it in later years or in the case of The Secret Year finding it after your death. My personal favorite is getting a nice background from my favorite store and spelling out the name of the title with stickers. Some of the stickers you might find can actually be very classy, sassy or even romantic. Good Luck! If after reading this you are still nervous about doing it yourself you can check in your local area for classes or a workshop for binding or even for scrap booking for your covers.

Wishing you the best of luck and lots of gorgeous covers and feel free to message with any questions!



  1. I've seen your comments everywhere it seems, so I thought I'd stop by. Cool post, definitely something I should do to a couple of my "well-loved" books. :)

  2. Wow! These is an intense project. Do you have any pictures of the finished product? I'm curious to see what it looks like!

  3. Thank you. Where do I find Backlining or Super?

  4. Woah, great post! Lol, I think I fit in that faint of heart do-it-yourself, but it was interesting to read nonetheless. :)

  5. superb idea! Great instructions! cheers :)

  6. Emma, thanks for dropping by and reminding me I am not alone in finding pitch writing next to impossible.

    You still have the YA Sci-fi that made you want to read? Yet, you don't fess-up to what it was? My guess is Madeline L'Engle's 'Wrinkle in time.'

    Pitch 2 Super-pitch is posted - very different.

  7. Elaine, is is actually one of the books I recently reviewed Tamora Pierce's 'In the Hands of the Goddess' I love it so much. It isn't truly that old but a good ten years or so and at least as many re-readings if not more.

    Thanks for all the feed back!

    Sorry no pictures currently of the finished product but if you would like I will try to take some soon!

    Thanks for all the feedback!!!!

    Myrna Foster, Your local Michael's crafts store or a number of other craft stores. Some hobby stores even have it. Some Aaron Brothers haven't been carrying anything but frames lately but I know the one near my dear friend also sells the items needed. You can also try ordering them online which is normally what I do.

  8. What a great idea. I love the thought of hiding journals behind real book covers. I've used a similar process to make my own journals from legal-size sheets immaculately folded precisely in half.

    I say similar. You sort of lost me with terms like tyvek (I looked that one up, but not sure what you are doing with it), fan-folding, and a few others. I do get the drift. It does work. I've been meaning to document my process. Maybe you could do yours in more precise detail, and we could both post on eHow.