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The Paperback Rebind 

by Pete Jermann   2003



Paperback rebinding converts paperbacks from their original softcover state into hardbound books retaining much of the format of the original paperback. The final product is a double fan adhesive, cloth reinforced, hollow-backed binding trimmed flush on three sides. New endsheets are added and the original cover (or as much of it as possible) is replaced on the outside. The new binding is superior in strength, durability and (frequently) openability to the original binding. The process is also adaptable to paperback books whose margins cannot or should not be trimmed.


  • Endsheets - 80 or 100 lb. text stock, folded once with grain, no hinge reinforcement.
  • Super or Backlining - cotton backlining, 68/68 threads/inch (LBS cotton backliner)
  • Tyvek - 5 mil, Type 10
  • 10 pt. bristol
  • Boards - .059 Davy Red Label board or similar binders board
  • Cover materials - C grade buckram, F grade buckram or most any type of book cloth.
  • Adhesives - Heavy, film building PVA for gluing up the spine (Wisdom R1503, brush application). Lighter PVA for sheet goods (Wisdom R172DT, glue machine application).

NOTE: Endsheets, supers and boards can be precut into standard sizes. The size selected is always equal to or larger than what is needed. All oversize materials align with the foot of the textblock. This provides a reference point from which to trim the three open sides of the book at the end of the process. For books with thin margins that cannot be trimmed the all materials are pre-cut to size before they are applied to the book.


Procedure - Overview

1. Remove original cover

2. Trim spine

3. Add endsheets, fan glue, attach super

4. Let textblock dry for 30 minutes or more

5. Attach tyvek and boards

6. Attach bristol inlay

7. Attach cover

8. Trim

9. Pre-open and inspect


Procedure - Detailed

1. Remove original cover from book.

  • Place the book on the workbench with the spine facing you. With one hand pull the cover back away from the book while firmly holding the textblock in place with the other hand. Pull the cover away from the spine. Note: the first leave of the book should remain flat when you remove the cover. If it starts to pull up when the cover is removed it will probably tear and be left with a ragged edge.

NOTE: The cover will not always come off intact despite your best effort. If the cover should start to tear at the spine while it is being removed, you can simply leave it on the book. The cover can be bound inside the finished rebinding rather than replaced on the outside.


2. Trim the spine from the textblock.

  • Using the guillotine, trim just enough of the spine from the textblock to remove the old glue and to separate the pages into individual sheets.


3. Fan glue textblock

  • Fan-glue the textblock with single fold endsheets and apply super

4. Let textblock dry

  • About 30 minutes should be plenty. Proceeding too soon may cause glue to seep through the super when the book is pressed in later steps.

5. Attach tyvek and boards.

  • This process requires a gluing guard as pictured to the left


  • With glue guard butted against the spine edge of the textblock, apply a coating of glue from the glue guard edge to just beyond the edge of the super. Note: One edge of the glue guard extends 3/8" while the other extends 1/2".  The narrower edge of the guard is used for books up to 1" thick. The wider edge is used for books thicker than an 1".


  • Align a piece of tyvek, cut the same width as the super, with the edge of the super and crease it over onto the spine. Be careful not to slide the tyvek in a manner that would move glue onto the part of the hinge joint left unglued by the glue guard.
  • Glue up a piece of binder's board and place it 3/8" to 1/2" (depending on the book's thickness) away from the spine and aligned with the bottom of the textblock.




  • Turn textblock over and repeat the last two steps on the now exposed side. However, instead of attaching a second piece of tyvek, bring the loose end of the already attached tyvek tightly around the spine and secure it the the glued area Glue up and attach the second board as was done on the reverse

6. Attach bristol inlay

  • Cut an inlay of 10 pt. bristol the same width as the spine and at least the same length as the spine. Glue up either one side of the bristol or the spine and attach the bristol to the spine aligned with the bottom edge of the textblock.


7. Attach cover

  •  Glue up the original cover (or a piece of c-cloth) and attach it to the book 


  • Press the glued up book. The raised edges on the press boards should should set against the edges of  the binders board. After several minutes the book can be removed from the press and stacked with other books to dry overnight.


8. Trim the book

  • Trim as little as possible to get a clean edge on the foredge, head and tail.


10. Pre-open the book

  • With the book flat on the table pre-open the cover such that it pivots on the hinge edge of the board. This pre-stresses the joint and allows the stress of opening to be distributed between the board/hinge joint and the hinge/spine joint rather than be concentrated on the hinge/spine joint.


11. Options


  • Paperback rebinding with bookcloth cover. If the original cover is not suitable for replacement on the outside of the volume it can simply be bound in at the first and last pages of the textblock. The book can then be covered with a book cloth instead of the orginal cover.


  • Paperback rebinding with original front and rear panels. If a paperback cover cannot be removed with the spine intact, the paperback can be covered in bookcloth and the orginal front and rear panels can be trimmed and glued down onto the cloth cover. The drawback to this method is the need to trim a strip from the front and rear panel equal to the width of the hinge area on the cover as a panel that extends into the hinge areas will tend to delaminate with use.


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