Can a book survive surgery like this?
June 27, 2011 12:06 PM   Subscribe

I bought this book when it was first published, because I was and still am knocked out by the beauty of the (very many, very well reproduced) watercolor illustrations. Now at long last I see that the pages have begun to go brown at the edges. The discoloration hasn't reached any of the illustrations yet but it will, it will, and I dread it. I am tempted to remove the pages from the cover boards (even though that would involve razoring the endpapers at the hinges) and cut the threads binding the signatures together so that I can get the pages absolutely flat on my scanner and scan them into a form that won't go brown ever. How big a deal would it be to get a bindery to put the book back together correctly after I desecrate it? What might it cost? Gentle Reader, What Would You Do?
posted by jfuller to Media & Arts (10 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
What about cutting your copy of the book down for scanning and then buying a new copy for $25 on amazon marketplace?
posted by Kimberly at 12:13 PM on June 27, 2011

Or buy another copy, and when it arrives, compare them both and tear apart and scan the one that's in worse shape.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 12:24 PM on June 27, 2011

Metafilter's own fake has invented a book scanner that you can use to scan bound books.
posted by soelo at 12:30 PM on June 27, 2011

soelo beat me to it. fake is the man when you need a book scanned! (Yes, that's his official slogan.) (No, I just made that up.)
posted by scody at 12:39 PM on June 27, 2011

Kimberly and Chocolate Pickle, that's a good idea and the used "collectable" copy from AbeBooks that says "British First Edition" is likely the same size as mine (I can't be sure that newer editions would be; other reprints I've bought tend to be smaller and generally not as nice.) Worst case, the AbeBooks copy is in better shape than mine so I don't want to chop that one up, while I also don't want to chop up the one I have for all kinds of irrational reasons including that I had a terrible crush on the the artist.
posted by jfuller at 12:42 PM on June 27, 2011

soleo and scody, I did see the post about fake's scanner. It's super impressive! I still want to open this book up in a more radical way than what you do when you read, though, because several of the best illos are two-pagers with some of the art hidden down in the crack between the pages where you can't ordinarily see it. I have some experience stitching multi-part scans in photoshop etc. and making the color balance match.
posted by jfuller at 12:55 PM on June 27, 2011

> while I also don't want to chop up the one I have

Sorry, unfinished thought. "...if it can't be put back together respectfully (not to say reverently.)"
posted by jfuller at 12:58 PM on June 27, 2011

I think buying a new copy is going to be a lot cheaper than having it rebound. You might want to invest in some archival spray to neutralize the acid in the pages (which is causing the yellowing). Also if you chop up one of the books you could always get the pages framed. Keeping them away from the air would also help prevent yellowing.
posted by Caravantea at 1:26 PM on June 27, 2011

I don't know how much it would cost to rebind your book, but I did it once and it was affordable. I think I just took it to a bookbinder and asked them for their price.

If you go that route, you'd probably also want the bookbinder to be the one who removes the binding in the first place.
posted by people? I ain't people! at 1:46 PM on June 27, 2011

Hm - maybe the Bessenberg Bindery (or some other, similar, small and independent bindery) could put it back together for you. Custom binding isn't that off-the-wall.

How are you storing it? Paper stored next to cardboard, or other acidic paper, will pick up that acidity. A buffered archival box should extend the life - use one along with a deacidification spray, and I bet the browning/yellowing would stop.
posted by hms71 at 6:15 PM on June 27, 2011

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