A Brief History
Random House
Weekly Reader

  1.  Terror Castle
  2.  Stuttering Parrot
  3.  Whispering Mummy
  4.  Green Ghost
  5.  Vanishing Treasure
  6.  Skeleton Island
  7.  Fiery Eye
  8.  Silver Spider
  9.  Screaming Clock
10.  Moaning Cave
11.  Talking Skull
12.  Laughing Shadow
13.  Crooked Cat
14.  Coughing Dragon
15.  Flaming Footprints
16.  Nervous Lion
17.  Singing Serpent
18.  Shrinking House
19.  Phantom Lake
20.  Monster Mountain
21.  Haunted Mirror
22.  Dead Man's Riddle
23.  Invisible Dog
24.  Death Trap Mine
25.  Dancing Devil
26.  Headless Horse
27.  Magic Circle
28.  Deadly Double
29.  Sinister Scarecrow
30.  Shark Reef
31.  Scar-Faced Beggar
32.  Blazing Cliffs
33.  Purple Pirate
34.  Wandering Cave Man
35.  Kidnapped Whale
36.  Missing Mermaid
37.  Two-Toed Pigeon
38.  Smashing Glass
39.  Trail of Terror
40.  Rogues' Reunion
41.  Creep-Show Crooks
42.  Wreckers' Rock
43.  Cranky Collector

Book of Mystery Puzzles

Find Your Fate
  1.  Weeping Coffin
  2.  Dancing Dinosaur
  7.  House of Horrors
  8.  Savage Statue

  1.  Hot Wheels
  2.  Murder To Go
  3.  Rough Stuff
  4.  Funny Business
  5.  An Ear For Danger
  6.  Thriller Diller
  7.  Reel Trouble
  8.  Shoot the Works
  9.  Foul Play
10.  Long Shot
11.  Fatal Error



Note: this page is long and has many images that may take a few moments to load.

Now that you have an idea of the Trade Hardcover Edition construction, let's look at how to repair its two most common problems: complete case-to-textblock separation and cracked hinges (complete separation is simply the most advanced stage of cracked hinges). Both conditions are caused by the aging and deterioration of the binding adhesive that holds the spine lining to the crash.

The following procedures concentrate on replacing the spine lining to crash adhesive and will produce results that are invisible, while at the same time extending the useful life of the book. Please note, though, that neither procedure is a complete "cure." If the deterioration is far enough along in the spine to produce cracked hinges or complete separation, it is safe to assume that all of the other binding adhesive has deteriorated and will continue to do so. Therefore, even successfully repaired books should be handled carefully; they may be structurally and aesthetically better, but are far from new again.

Both of the procedures are fairly simple, but will probably require some practice to get just right. I would recommend trying each at least once on a Trade hardcover you're not too concerned about, so you learn the proper feel of how things should go.


Before any repair can begin, you'll need to assemble your materials:

  • wax paper
  • 2 heavy, smooth and flat boards
  • small, clean paint brush
  • thin plastic strip: 9 inches long by 5/8" inch wide. This can be cut lengthwise from a 2 liter soda bottle.
  • small glass bowl
  • sandpaper, 80 grit or coarser
  • small flat blade screwdriver
  • X-Acto style knife
  • 2 straight 1/8 inch diameter rods, each 9 inches long, may be wood dowels, metal rod/tubing or plastic rod/tubing; any of these can be purchased at most home improvement or hobby stores
  • PVA adhesive - must be archival quality (neutral pH) and be suitable for book binding (many brands actually state this on the label); many different brands can be found at most art supply stores. I personally recommend Jade Adhesive 403N, which can be purchased online at University Products: Archival Suppliers. It's somewhat expensive, but dries with a high degree of flexibility, making it perfect for the following repairs. Note: although it is also a PVA adhesive, do not use regular white glue such as Elmer's etc.; it is not archival quality and does not have the required flexibility. In addition, do not use another type of adhesive, such as rubber cement; the solvents can deteriorate the textblock and binding.

Case-to-Textblock Separation

Figures 1 and 2 show a typical complete separation, in which the textblock has become a separate entity. Notice the yellowing of the spine lining adhesive. As discussed in the book construction page, this adhesive originally dried clear; the yellowing is a result of age based embrittlement. Improper storage can accelerate this condition, but even the most perfect storage environment cannot fully prevent it; it is inherent to the poor quality adhesive originally used.

After getting your materials assembled, the first step is to prepare the case and textblock. To prepare the case, slide the plastic strip in between the crash (plus its backing) and the spine inlay. See Figure 3. The purpose of this is to prevent any adhesive from soaking through the crash and onto the spine inlay, effectively gluing the two together. These parts must stay separated to form the hollow space discussed in the book construction page.

Next, to prepare the textblock, use the sandpaper to vigorously scuff up the adhesive surface on the spine lining. The idea is to just remove a small amount of material to allow for a better bond to the new adhesive, so be careful and don't remove too much. After sanding, place some of the PVA adhesive into the glass dish and thin it with a little bit of water. Only a very small amount of water is required (just a few brushes full). The intent is to get the glue to flow better, but not so thin that it runs too much. Per Figure 4, spread a thin layer of the thinned adhesive onto the spine lining to soften and bond to the old adhesive below. Allow this to dry while completing the next steps.

The next step may or may not be required, depending on the condition of your book. Even if it is required, it may only be for one side, as in our example. As you can seen in Figures 5 and 6, the intent is to glue back down the inner edge of the pastedown endpaper that has lifted up. To do so, gently brush a small amount of thinned adhesive on the back side of the edge and push/hold it down with the small screwdriver. Be very careful to not get any adhesive on the printed side of the endpaper as it will show in the finished book. This takes some dexterity and patience and the paper edge must stay down on its own (i.e. be somewhat dry) before the next step can be performed.

Once the edge is secured, the case and textblock are ready to be reassembled. Per Figure 7, brush a liberal amount of thinned adhesive onto the crash. Make sure the adhesive soaks through the weave to get a good bond. When the case is ready, carefully align the textblock and push it into the crash. See Figure 8. The alignment here is critical; make sure both the front and back hinges look correct. Don't be afraid to reposition the textblock a few times if necessary, as the adhesive will not begin to dry for several minutes.

When you are satisfied with the alignment, close the book and place wax paper between both the front and back endpapers; the wax paper prevents any excess adhesive from gluing the endpapers together. Make sure the wax paper is fully inserted into the hinge. Next, put the book flat on one board and place the 1/8" diameter rods into the joints. Make sure the rods are placed properly; they will prevent the joints from pushing up while the adhesive dries. See Figure 9.

When everything is in place, the final step is to put the second board on top of the book and leave it to dry for at least 24 hours. Figure 10 shows the complete assembly from the side. Note the placement of the rods.

Figure 11: your repaired book, with properly aligned textblock and solid hinges! Don't forget to remove the plastic strip; just give it a gentle tug if you meet some resistance.

Cracked Hinges

Although the book is still in one piece, cracked hinges are actually slightly more difficult to repair than a complete separation. With such close quarters, it is difficult to get the adhesive into just the right places; therefore, some cutting may even be required. The following procedure is somewhat similar to the first one and borrows a few things from it.

Figure 12 shows a typical cracked front hinge, with partially separated endpapers. As you can see, the textblock is still firmly attached to the crash, but only at the center of it, allowing the hinge to split. Because the endpapers are only partially separated, the attached portions will have to be separated to complete the repair. In our example, only the front hinge is cracked. Many books have both hinges cracked. Both may be repaired with this procedure, but only one at a time, with the first hinge completely dry before the second is repaired.

As shown in Figure 13, carefully cut the two halves of the endpapers apart with the X-Acto knife. You should not be cutting any paper, but simply the thin layer of adhesive that bonds the two edges together. Therefore, very little force is required.

With the two endpapers completely separated, the hinge can be opened completely and repair can begin. See Figure 14. First, however, the plastic strip must be inserted between the crash and spine inlay, as in the first procedure.

Like the first procedure, the lifted-up edge of the pastedown endpaper must be glued back down. Gently brush some thinned adhesive under the paper edge and push it down with the small screwdriver. Again, the edge must stay down on its own before the next step can be performed. See Figure 15.

When the endpaper edge is ready, brush a fairly liberal amount of thinned adhesive into the space between the spine lining and crash. Be very careful to not get any adhesive on the printed portions of the endpapers. Let me say from experience, that this can be tough; you're typically working in very tight quarters. See Figure 16.

When the adhesive is in place, hold the textblock and push down and forward on the cover as shown in Figure 17. This will allow everything to line up; hold this way for about a minute.

Next, as shown in Figure 18, put the book on one board and place a sheet of wax paper between the endpapers (making sure to get the edge of the wax paper all the way into the hinge). Then, place the 1/8" diameter rods into the joints and place the second board on top of the book.

Again, allow this assembly to dry for 24 hours. Your cracked hinge is now repaired! Don't forget to remove the plastic strip.

For convenience, both repair procedures can be downloaded in printable Adode Acrobat format here: repair.pdf.

Please contact me with any questions or suggestions to make the procedures better.

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This page last updated on 02-Sep-03