It is important to determine why a book needs repair.
- Has it been damaged through carelessness or simply through use?
- Was it manufactured in a way that caused the damage?
- Has an old repair failed or caused more damage?
- How have previous repairs hindered the mechanics (the way the book opens and closes, the way the pages turn) of the book?
- Is the book constructed in signatures (folded pages that can be sewn or glued together)?
- Is the book constructed in single sheets glued or oversewn together?
- Is the paper coated and shiny?
All these factors should be considered when choosing to repair a book and deciding what techniques to use.
Examine the volume carefully and determine how it is constructed. Book construction is covered in a separate post on this site to help you get familiar with how a book goes together.
Determine which part of the structure failed so you can use the most appropriate repair technique. Some books were not constructed to be repaired and will never successfully be put back together.
Remember, choosing not to repair a book is not a value judgment about the contents of a book. It is an informed decision on what is best for the long term posterity of your valued possession.