Bookbinding repair key terms are commonly used among book dealers, as well as those offering repair services. But even serious book readers are often confused by these terms. For example, do you know the difference between a recasing and a rebacking? Fortunately, bookbinding repair terms are fairly easy to learn. Here are some of the most commonly used bookbinding and book-repair terms you'll come across.
RecasingRecasing is a way of rebinding a hardback book. It involves cutting off the old, damaged book cover, adding new endsheets, relining the spine and adhering a new hard cover. When recasing is complete, the book has an entirely new cover.
CrownThe crown of a book is the top edge of its spine (the top of the part of the book that faces out when it's shelved). It often wears down and breaks because people tend to take books off the shelf by inserting their finger partially into the crown. A badly torn crown can be repaired only by rebinding the book.
HingeA book's hinge is where its cover meets its spine. Hinges often need repairing on well-used books, and broken or loose hinges are commonly seen on older volumes. Hinge repair usually involves resewing the book's pages together, but sometimes glue is used for minor repairs.
SignaturesWhen books are printed the pages are arranged and separated into signatures, or groups of pages folded in half. A signature looks a lot like a booklet without a cover. These signatures are then collected and sewn or glued together to create a book. When one or more signatures come loose, they must be resewn and then glued into place.
St. Mary's University Blume Library offers a PDF that includes information on repairing signatures. Scroll down to Book Repair Links and click "Simple Techniques for the Maintenance and Repair of Books." You'll find information on signatures on page 10.
SpineThe spine of a book is the part you see when it is sitting upright on a shelf; it usually has the title of the book and the author's name printed on it. Spine replacement is a common book repair process since the spine is the book's weakest section. During repair, the old, damaged spine is cut off, reinforcement is applied and a new spine is glued into place.
Preservation Services at Dartmouth College discusses spine replacement or repair and offers complete instructions.
RebackRebinding means the book is given a completely new cover, spine and endpapers, whereas rebacking means only the book's spine is repaired. For the rebacking process, old covers are reused if possible or new boards are made. A new spine is then fashioned and attached to the book's cover.
Aboutbookbinding.com gives illustrated instructions on how to reback a book.