Of making many books there is no end


John Burbidge has been repairing leather-bound and cloth-bound books since 1997.  In 2000 he received the Certificate of the Canadian Bookbinders and Book Artists Guild (CBBAG), and has continued to develop his skills.  In particular he attended in 2005 a course taught by Don Etherington, who developed a method of repairing leather bound books that retains much of their original character, but uses japanese paper.  Drawing on his experience in handling books published from 1550 to 2000, Burbidge has taught a two-day course on remedial repairs for CBBAG.

While each book has its own history which affects the way it has weathered the years, there are some standard problems that tend to arise that make it difficult to use them with ease.  In leather-bound books, particularly those from the 19th century, the front and back covers come away from the text block; at times the leather can become weak and powdery.  With cloth bound books, the spine becomes separated from the text, the covers are loose, the sewing that holds the sections together deteriorates so it falls into a number of "signatures" (as they are called).   More recently, publishers have tried to speed up the binding process by cutting off the backs of the sections and simply pasting them together -- a method called (ironically) "perfect binding".  (This is almost standard in paper-backed books.)  So all too often individual pages lose their adhesive and come loose.

Before starting on repair, then, one needs to "listen" to the book to diagnose its problems and develop a sense of how to solve them.  So estimates of cost can only be given once the book is actually on hand.

Illustrated below: a half leather binding in a clamshell box; "before" and "after" a japanese paper repair; "before" and "after" a full leather rebind.

  I regularly repair books for William Van Nest of Trillium Books as well as for Patrick McGahern Books in Ottawa.

  Mark Jokinen Books is another second-hand book dealer who uses my services,

as has Lord Russborough's Annex in Port Hope.  For conservation and repair of damaged paper or other materials, contact Judith Earnshaw.

Contact Information:  John Burbidge, 379 Stewart Street, Peterborough, Ontario Canada  K9H 4A9
705-743-8020      johnwburbidge@gmail.com