Geek’s Gander into Book Repair

My first taste of Tolkien can in the form of a dusty, beaten and taped book with aged pages and that funky smell you only get with old books. I was given this copy of “The Hobbit or There and Back Again” by my uncle, printed in 1981 it was at least 20 years old when it landed in my hands.

This copy of Tolkien’s famous tale has been in my possession ever since, being kept in cupboards or on book shelves but only ever read by myself once as I had a fear that it would fall to pieces if I opened its tattered pages. Thanks to my love for The Hobbit and the sentimental nature of how I was gifted the book I decided to turn to YouTube (as we all do). One helpful video from Save Your Books later I decided to jump into it and see what happens.

Firstly I had to remove the sellotape and that was about as boring as it sounds. Using a sharp knife I had to carefully tease the tape off of Thorin’s map of Erabor without inadvertently removing the moon runes showing the secret entrance (Which wasn’t easy).

Then I had to take off the front cover, which was easier as it basically fell off. With the cover off I used bulldog clips to hold the pages together as I used a sharp knife (again) and scraped off any old glue that had all but disappeared, aside from where it was holding a few pages together for dear life.


After painstakingly dismantling the poor book I had to glue it back together, improvising with some cheap PVA I had lying around. Once glued I used my bookends as a make shift press to keep the pages together as they dried overnight.


The next day I reached for the PVA and attached a slip of paper to the spine which was then used to reattach the cover to my book.


Finally assembled my copy of The Hobbit was left to dry under the bookends one last time and it was finished. Pages fixed in position no more tape (but still that weird old book smell).


It would have been quicker to throw the book in the rubbish and buy a new copy but learning to repair it was so much more worthwhile. The pages aren’t all perfectly in line, it still looks worn and well used but now it won’t disintegrate in my hands. 80 years on from when The Hobbit was first published; Taken apart, cleaned, glued and put back together again; this copy of The Hobbit has definitely been There and Back Again.


3 thoughts

  1. What a great tale! To repair a well-loved treasure (especially a Tolkien one) is awesome.

    I usually go through a process of books like I do with clothes, were you try not to get anything one it/no bends/perfect condition, and then you get that ONE mark – and the next thing you know it needs repairing.

    I love books and your post was a great read, thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! I love books and like you said I try and keep them spotless, Tolkien is a particular favourite of mine so I decided I would just have to see if I could fix it. I never throw a book away if I’m done with it and don’t want to keep it on my shelf I tend to donate them so they can go onto someone else!


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