Frequently Asked Questions

  Are my books worth fixing?
Well-executed book repair, restoration, and conservation work can often be a somewhat expensive process. As a general rule of thumb, you don't want to be in a position where you have invested more in the repair/restoration/conservation, of your book than the actual market value of your particular book. The most common exception to this rule is when a book has a particular sentimental value to its owner. 19th century family bibles are a wonderful example of this exception, often worth very little on the open market, but priceless to the family to which it belongs. Often times, less expensive books, that don't hold a particular sentimental value, can be replaced new, or used, for less than it would cost to repair/restore/conserve. If you are searching out our services and have come across our website, then odds are your book is worth fixing. That being said, Restoration Books does not offer appraisals or opinions as to the value of your books. If you are unsure of the value of your particular book, we suggest as a wonderful venue to gauge the value of your items.
  What's the difference between "restoration" and "conservation"?
The terms restoration and conservation are often mistakenly used interchangeably. It is important to note the differences:
Restoration: The process of returning a book, document, or other archival material as nearly as possible to its original condition. The entire scope of "restoration" ranges from the repair of a torn leaf, or removal of a simple stain, to the complete rehabilitation of the material, including, at times, de-acidification, alkaline buffering, resizing, filling in missing parts, re-sewing, replacement of endpapers and/or boards, recovering or restoration of the original covering material, and refinishing in a manner sympathetic to the time of the original binding of the publication. Restoration, therefore, encompasses virtually the entire range of book work-mending, repairing, rebinding, and reconstruction. (Bookbinding and the Conservation of books- A Dictionary of Descriptive Terminology by Roberts and Etherington, p. 217)
Conservation: 1. The conscious, deliberate and planned supervision, care and preservation of the total resources of a library, archives, or similar institution, from the injurious effect of age, use (or misuse), as well as external or internal influences of all types, but especially light, heat, humidity and atmospheric influences. 2. A field of knowledge concerned with the coordination and planning for the practical application of the techniques of binding, restoration, paper chemistry, and other material technology, as well as other knowledge pertinent to the preservation of archival resources. (Ibid. p.64)
A third, and distinct, category worthy of consideration is that of book "repair." Book repair often overlaps into the areas of restoration and conservation, but is usually concerned more with the physical functionality of the book, as opposed to the historical and aesthetic considerations usually applied in "restoration."

Here, at Restoration Books, our regular clientele consists primarily of used and rare book dealers as well as discerning book collectors, who typically prefer "restoration" over repair as it is the most aesthetically pleasing, and in most cases, will greatly increase the value of the book. We also regularly work with individuals who have books that may not be particularly valuable, but are worth repairing as inexpensively as possible with basic repair techniques. We are more than happy to discuss your individual and/or institutional needs to design a treatment proposal that is in line with the end results you hope to achieve.
  How much will having my books repaired/restored cost?
While having your books repaired and/or restored may, at first, appear to be a costly prospect, it is well worth the investment in the long run. You may benefit by reading our most common question "Are my books worth fixing?" at the top of our F.A.Q. list. We do not maintain a set "price list" for standard repairs, as no two books are ever alike. In order to give you an accurate estimate, we will need to review your books individually to accurately assess what they will require. The very next F.A.Q. in this list, "Can you give me an estimate without seeing my book in person?" outlines how you can obtain an estimate for the repair and/or restoration of your books. We do have a $50 minimum charge for all projects, which goes to cover our time processing paperwork, writing up treatment reports, phone calls, emails, etc. Our estimates are based on a time + materials basis, your final cost may vary depending on your choices of different leathers, decorative papers, etc. Many of our most common procedures range from $75 to $325. Items that require extensive work such as washing, deacidification, re-sewing, binding restoration, or replacement, can often range from $500 to $1000 and beyond. That being said, no two books are alike, so please feel free to contact us with the particulars of your project, and we will be happy to give you a personalized estimate.
  Can you give me an estimate without seeing my book in person?
Generally speaking, it's best to see a book in person in order to give an accurate estimate for repair and/or restoration. That being said, we can often give approximate estimates after asking the appropriate questions and seeing a few representative photographs of your books. After evaluating your books' description and photographs, we will generate a basic treatment proposal and approximate estimate for approval. Once the initial treatment proposal and estimate is approved, we will have you ship your books to us for further evaluation. If needed, we will make any necessary changes to our proposal, adjust our initial estimate, and proceed only after we have received your approval to do so. Once we receive final approval to proceed with the treatment of your books, we will have you pay a 50% deposit towards your work, with the balance due upon completion.

If you would like to contact us to receive an estimate on your books, click here and you will be taken to our contact page. After filling out, and submitting, the contact form you will be taken to a second page where you will have the opportunity to submit up to 5 representative photographs of your books.
  What do you do to restore/repair a book?
This is probably the most common question that we are asked by our customers; to which there is no one patent answer. We treat each and every book individually and tailor our treatments to the needs of the particular book we're working on at any given time. We do, however, have certain treatments, which are very common to many of the items that we work on. Some of our most common treatments include: cleaning stained and dirty pages, mending losses to pages, re-sewing text-blocks, repairing cracked cover hinges, and replacing losses to worn cloth and leather covers. We also regularly create new, period-style bindings for books whose bindings are either no longer present or are beyond repair. You can rest assured that we will treat your books as unique objects, which will benefit from individually tailored treatments.
  How much of the original book can you save?
We are often asked this question, to which we typically reply, "If there is a pile of paper and crumbling leather, we can save it!" With the exception of the smallest bits of leather and paper dust, broken sewing threads, and the like, we can usually utilize every bit of the original materials in the restoration/repair process. We do our best to save as much of your original books' materials as possible, while introducing new materials that match the look and feel of the original. This blending of the old and new, when skillfully executed, results in a beautifully restored book that can often be handled, with care, like new. A few exceptions are when we may opt to replace elements of a book which may be particularly harmful to the future stability of the book. These may include highly acidic cover boards, endsheets, etc. You can rest assured that we will use as much of the original binding, and other elements of the book, as possible during the restoration/repair process unless you instruct us otherwise.
  My book is missing pages, can you replace them?
We are often asked to replace, in facsimile, missing pages or portions of a missing page in the restoration process. We have the ability to create high-resolution facsimile pages on actual matching period paper, or on a newly produced paper that approximates the look, feel, weight, and finish of the original page. Often the page lacking in books most is the title page. Incidentally, a book lacking it's title page, or subsequent pages, can greatly affect the value of the volume. While facsimile pages are never as good as the "real McCoy," they can complete a book textually, thereby making them more desirable, in general, to collectors. We discreetly mark our facsimiles, at the discretion of our customers, so that a high quality facsimile, which appears to be original to the volume, may not unintentionally deceive future owners. All that being said, it is up to the owner to disclose any restoration work, including facsimile pages, during the future sale of their books.
  Will having my books restored help, or hurt, the value of my books?
From an investment standpoint, having your books properly, and professionally, restored will, with very few exceptions, increase their value. It does take a certain caliber of book to merit the investment in a full restoration treatment, (see "Are my books worth fixing?") but applied to the proper book, the return is well worth the money spent. The few exceptions to this generalization might include priceless books and manuscripts whose value is more or less dependent on their nature as an artifact. In cases such as these, light conservation and preservation treatments would be more appropriate. We are more than happy to discuss your books individually to help you determine the proper direction you should take in regards to their restoration and conservation.
  How long will it be before I get my books back?
We can usually turn around new work within six to eight weeks and sometimes sooner. We're doing our best to improve our turnaround time, and as a result we will occasionally turn a job around in just a few days or weeks. We have a large selection of leathers and papers on hand, but we are sometimes in a position necessitating the special order of materials for a given project, which may set the job back a few weeks. We will always do our best to complete your work in as timely a manner as possible.
  What forms of payment do you accept?
While personal/cashiers checks are preferred, we also accept: Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover Card, and Paypal. If you are able to pick up your books in person, you may also pay in cash.

We are more than happy to work out interest-free payment plans for our customers who may need to spread out the expense of having their books repaired/restored. If you opt to pay in installments, your books will not be shipped until payment is made in full and your balance satisfied.
  How do I safely package my books so that they make it to you without being damaged?
We have been professionally packing and shipping valuables for over a decade, and have never had a single claim filed for items damaged in transit. We receive parcels from all of the major shipping carriers at our address, but usually ship our parcels out with USPS or UPS. No matter whom you choose to ship with, it is necessary that you fully insure your parcels and require signature confirmation upon delivery. We cannot be held responsible for lost or damaged goods if you neglect to insure your parcel and/or require a signature upon delivery.

Our method of packaging books is as follows:
  • Carefully wrap your books individually in a light paper (tissue paper/unprinted newsprint/etc.), similar to how you would wrap a present. This prevents your books from rubbing against each other in transit, as well as containing any fragments of leather/paper/cloth that may be loose, or in danger of becoming detached, in shipment.
  • Wrap each book individually in a thin bubble wrap, or equivalent padding, as an additional protection during shipping.
  • You may choose to then place your books in a sealable plastic bag, such as a large Ziploc bag, to protect against the one-in-a-million chance freak accident in which your parcel may be exposed to the elements during delivery.
  • The most important step is then to choose a box that allows for AT LEAST four inches of clearance on ALL sides of your books. This step is crucial, as many shipping carriers will not reimburse claims for damage if you have any less than four inches of sufficient padding between the item being shipped and the walls of the parcel.
  • After selecting an appropriately sized box, fill the bottom of the box with at least four inches of packaging "peanuts," place your books in the box, and fill in the remaining space with at least another 4" of "peanuts" on all sides. Test your parcel by closing the top of the box and giving it a good shake. Your books should be held in place firmly and should not shift at all in the box.
  • Include any necessary documentation, contact information, etc. on top of your packaged items so it is easily found when unpacking.
  • Seal your parcel on all sides with a quality packing tape.
  • Address and ship your parcel to:
    Restoration Books
    c/o Michael Atha
    39 South 400 West
    Logan, UT 84321
If you have any problem procuring the materials to properly package your books, for the cost of materials + shipping, we would be more than happy to ship you an appropriately sized box with all of the packing materials that you might require to properly package your books to ensure their safe delivery.
  Do you have any references that will vouch for you work?
Restoration Books - Bindery & Fine Press has worked with numerous respected rare book dealers, collectors, as well as private and public institutions. We would be happy to furnish you with additional references upon request. Below is some of our typical feedback that we regularly receive from our customers:
"...I just received the books back and I must say that they look very good to me. The repair on the hinges looks very nice and I would agree that someone would have to carefully examine it to detect the work that was done. The inside reinforcement over the marbling is excellent, very much less intrusive then I thought it might be. I also noticed the general color improvement and touch-up of the leather all the way around... it looks very nice.

I must say that you met and exceeded all of my expectations regarding quality, speed and price, I could not have asked for more. I think that the book people at the auction house will agree that the repair and general touch-up was well worth it. When I was told that the front cover should be reattached, they mentioned that by having it done, it would be one less thing that "we would have to make a excuse for." I see what they mean now... truly the book can now be handled and examined without any worries. The set now feels like a "book" to me instead of an object... in fact I sat here just now and looked through it almost page by page which I was hesitant to do before."

—S. Powers, DeKalb, IL

"Over the past 4 years, I have hired Restoration Books to restore several 19th century books in my collection as well as to make custom leather clamshell boxes to protect my most valuable books. I would recommend them to anyone looking for professional-quality conservation work with attention to detail and a love for the art of the book."

—S. Chism, Tucson, AZ

"I just got back two volumes Restoration Books repaired--very pleased. They reproduced a missing fold-out woodcut in one (you'd never know it wasn't original), and replaced a piece of leather at the crown of the spine in another. With a little polishing the book now shines. As a collector, the attention to detail and exactness with which they go about their work is appreciated."

—J. Watkins, Riverton, UT,

"I have had books restored and book enclosures made by Restoration Books on numerous occasions over the past 5 or 6 years and have always been pleased with the high quality of the work. As an antiquarian book dealer, it is good to have this resource when a quality restoration for a rare book is needed. Also, his custom-made clamshell boxes are stunningly beautiful and works of art themselves. The proprietor is well trained in the history and art of the book. He has a wonderful collection of vintage book restoration and printing tools and uses these in conjunction with modern technology to create many innovative restoration methods. For instance, he can match gilt patterns on leather bindings, match missing marbled endpapers, and recreate missing leather spines or other sections of missing leather to match the original."

—Orrin Schwab Rare Books,