1. Wanda Morris February 18, 2017 @ 10:47 am Reply

    I have two paperbacks that are stuck together and I was wondering if there is any way to separate them without damaging the front cover of the book that is stuck to the back cover of another paperback.

    I am happy to sacrifice the top book’s back cover if I can save the front cover on the bottom book.

    I believe water or another liquid was spilled on books causing them to bind together. They have been packed away for at least a year.

    Any suggestions you could offer would be greatly appreciated.

  2. John Ison John Ison February 21, 2017 @ 6:03 am Reply


    It water is the cause of the problem it may be possible to moisten the inside of the back cover to the top book and allow some time for that to soak through to loosen the bond between the covers. A piece of very damp (but not soaking wet) paper towel on top of that cover would help to keep it moist. Be sure to place a barrier between the cover and text block of both books so the moisture doesn’t get the contents wet. I’d use a sheet of aluminum foil for each book to be sure nothing soaks through. Let the books set for a time to see if the bond starts to loosen. This could take a few minutes or several hours . If, after a time you don’t see an improvement try moistening the inside of the front cover of the bottom book also. You’re now increasing the chance of causing some minor damage to that cover but if this works and you can ease the books apart they both should be useable.

    If the books do come apart be sure to place some weight on each of the dampened covers as they dry to help keep them from curling. If this process doesn’t work it may have been something other than water that caused the problem and it may be impossible to separate the books.

    Hope this helps,


  3. Connie Mogan March 15, 2017 @ 5:04 pm Reply

    On the cover of our classroom textbooks, some students have used some pointed object to draw by making indentations into the cover. I tried setting a hot cup of water on the indentations to try and draw them out; however, that did not remove the indentations. Do you have a suggestion for me?

  4. John Ison John Ison March 31, 2017 @ 7:56 am Reply


    I have tested some ideas since your question arrived but found no sure-fire solution to your problem. One approach that seemed to offer the best chance of removing the indentations was placing a piece of dampened paper towel on the cover and pressing that with a steam iron.

    Use the lowest heat setting that will produce steam and don’t linger too long so you over-heat the cover. Once the moisture has softened the cover a bit use a plastic bone folder (Demco # WS16280200) or a similar device to rub the indentations out.

    If you give this a try let me know how it works for you.


  5. Ian porter July 31, 2017 @ 9:51 am Reply

    I have a 19th century family bible but the front cover is detached what do I re fix it to spine cover wet please

  6. Kykygirl October 3, 2017 @ 6:31 pm Reply

    Hey I borrowed my sisters paperback book she told me she’d kill me if I damaged it. By mistake when I put the book in my backpack the cove bent and at the bottoms of a few pages it is ripped. I can’t buy anything special for it because my sister will know what happened my options are very limited right now she’s gonna kill me! Respond as soon as possible.

  7. John Ison John Ison October 6, 2017 @ 1:15 pm Reply

    The damage you describe doesn’t sound like anything that would affect the readability of the paperback–and that’s the important part. There’s nothing I can think of that would keep her from knowing something happened. Unless you can find a replacement copy to give your sister I think your best option is to use a good transparent mending tape to keep the tears from getting any longer and apologize for the damage.

  8. Jessica November 21, 2017 @ 11:16 am Reply

    “If the spine is missing or unattractive, you will need to letter the information onto the tape.”

    What pen should we use to write the spine information onto the tape? Is a sharpie acceptable? What about the dark or black book tape/cloth? I know back in “the day” there was some sort of heat pen and tape that was used for the white lettering (we even still have some of the tape, but not the pen thing), but I haven’t been able to find a modern replacement for that other than white paint pens, which have a sketchy history and can tend to blob unattractively.

    • John Ison John Ison December 30, 2017 @ 1:18 pm Reply

      I’m truly sorry about the lengthy delay in responding. Demco has been making some upgrades to the information system and the blog was off line for an extended time.

      I’m familiar with the heat pen you mention and have been searching the on-line catalogs of library supply companies but they don’t seem to be available. I did a search at Demco.com for “marking pens” and a great many are available. I’m not familiar with most of them but you might check the customer reviews to see what would meet your needs. Many come in various colors so you should find one that would show up on dark tapes.

      Another option would be to get spine label stock and print them from a computer though that could be time-consuming if you’re preparing only a few labels.

      Be sure to apply clear label protectors over the new spine marking.


  9. Cody May 8, 2018 @ 9:58 pm Reply

    Hi John,

    Recently I have gone through my shelf of signed books and first editions. I’ve noticed on more than one that the dust jacket has a vertical mark from top to bottom.

    I believe the technical term would be ‘rubbed spine.’ The shelf is packed a little too tightly and I won’t be making this mistake again.

    A friend suggested rubbing the dust jackets with a chamois cloth but I was wondering if you had any tips or tricks to offer That might remove the marks.Thank you for reading this and for posting all these repair guides!


  10. John Ison John Ison May 15, 2018 @ 8:13 pm Reply


    You’ve stumped me with this question. I know of nothing that will undo the wear marks on the dust jackets. In searching for a solution I located several descriptions of rubbed jackets but, since the marks are most likely the result of ink being worn away, no one has offered a solution.

    My advice is to let the covers remain in their current condition and, as you said, don’t shelve your books so tightly.


  11. Cindy June 5, 2018 @ 4:12 pm Reply

    I have some old books that need the spines redone what kind of materials do i need to repair them.

  12. John Ison John Ison June 10, 2018 @ 12:35 pm Reply


    First a caution: If the books are simply ordinary old books I can help you but if they are potentially valuable, (first editions, rare, or very old) you should consult a conservator who deals with that type of book.

    Please refer to the first part of this blog post and view the video from the “Watch Video” link. The video explains both the process and materials you will need to complete the repair. I do suggest that instead of using Demco Fastape as recommended in the video you use Demco Tyvek tape with liners (https://www.demco.com/products/Library-Supplies/Tape/Colored-Book-Tape/Demco-reg-Tyvek-reg-Tape-with-Liner/_/A-B00172844&ALL0000&es=20180610121244923003).

    The Tyvek tape is easier to handle since the liner allows it to unroll easily and the Tyvek provides a smoother surface if you need to relabel the book. If you use the Tyvek tape and the other products suggested in the video you should to repair the spines easily.

    Please don’t hesitate to follow up if you have additional questions.


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