The Ultimate Guide to Repairing a Book Cover

Repaire a Book Cover

Is your favorite book falling apart, or are the pages or cover coming off? Don’t worry, this is easier to fix than you might think! You can glue loose pages back in with special book glue. You can use the same glue to fill gaps between the block of pages – the book block – and the spine. Bookbinding tape can be used to fix a cover that has become detached from the rest of the book.

Fasten loose pages

Purchase an acid-free book or binding glue.

You can get this at most craft stores, usually in long, narrow tubes. Make sure the glue doesn’t contain acid, otherwise it could dissolve the pages or damage the spine of the book.

Take out the loose pages.

Set them aside to avoid getting glue on them. Make sure you leave them in the correct order. You don’t want to mess them up and glue them back into the book wrong!

Apply a thin layer of glue.

Open the book and apply a little glue to the inside of the book exactly where the pages have separated. A wooden ice cream stick is great for spreading the glue evenly.

Glue the pages back to the spine of the book.

First, double-check that they are in the correct order! Then carefully place them exactly between the other pages so that they fit back into the book block without protruding anywhere. Then press them firmly against the spines of the books so that they fit snugly all over. You may have to wiggle the pages a bit to fit them back into the book seamlessly. It doesn’t really matter, but you have to work quickly so that the pages don’t end up sticking somewhere where they don’t belong.

Close the book with a rubber band.

This will keep all pages straight while the glue dries. You can also place other, heavier books on top of your newly repaired book.

Let the book dry for 24 hours.

When the time is up, you can carefully remove the gum (or other books) and carefully flip through the pages of the book. They should all feel normal and firm. If it doesn’t, you may need to re-glue it.

Fill in a gap between pages and spines

Gather your tools.

You will need book glue, knitting needles or plastic sticks (to apply the glue), wax paper, and a flat piece of plastic. It’s best if your glue is in a tall bottle because then you can just dip the plastic sticks or knitting needles in and then lightly apply the glue to the spine of the book.

Set up the book.

Then very carefully, with one hand, open the gap between the pages and the hinge as far as you can without damaging the book any further.

Dip the needle or stick it into the glue.

Then you carefully insert the needle or rod into the gap and push and twist it against the book block and spine. The glue should spread evenly and hold everything well later on. If the gap runs the full length of the spine, you will need to turn the book halfway and repeat the process on the bottom page.

Lay the book flat.

Press firmly and evenly on the book block so that it fits snugly against the spine. Then use your flat piece of plastic to press the blank pages at the beginning and end of the book into the hinge. This will ensure that all pages are held to the spine and none of them tear.

Place a piece of wax paper between the cover and the pages.

You should push it as far back into the joint as you can go. This prevents glue from getting onto the cover and ensures that the book can still be opened easily after it has dried.

Run your flat plastic along the hinge.

This is the small “dent” that runs between the edge of the spine and the cover. Apply even pressure to this groove.

Press the book overnight.

Place the book on a flat board, and a knitting needle that is slightly thicker than the book cover on the bottom cover. Place the book on the bottom cover and place the knitting needle right on the hinge of the book. You repeat this process with a knitting needle on the upper joint and a second board on top. Then put about 10 pounds of weight on top of the book and leave it overnight.

Fix a broken inner joint

Remove the inner hinge from the book.

If the inner hinge is still attached to the book by a few threads, it will be harder to repair, so you’ll make life easier by detaching it entirely. Cut off any loose threads or bits of paper so you end up with an even and smooth pad of paper.

Cut a piece of bookbinding tape.

You can find this special tape at most craft stores. When measuring, use the height of the book pages as a guide, not the height of the cover, because the pages are usually a bit smaller and you would otherwise cut off too long a piece of tape.

Apply glue to one side of the ribbon.

It is best to use a small brush for application, with which you can distribute the glue evenly.

Attach the ribbon to the spines and pages.

Hold the tape where it’s dry and line up the stitching exactly with the edge of the book block. Glue one glued side of the ribbon to the first page of the book block and the other to the spine of the book block. Rub the ribbon with a flat piece of plastic to ensure it adheres well to the book block.

Let the glue dry.

This can take a few hours or a whole day. You can find out if the glue is dry by running your finger lightly over it – you can usually feel if it’s still wet under the tape.

Place wax paper on the pages and in the spine of the book.

You should place it on top of the bookbinding tape that’s already taped to the pages and under the binding tape that you haven’t already taped down.

Now apply glue to the other two sides of the binding tape.

Then carefully line up the cover so that the edge of the cover fits snugly against the seam of the binding tape.

Press the spine of the book firmly against the appropriate side of the volume.

This is the page that lies between the spine of the book and the book block. When you open the book, the spine should hold firmly against this side of the binding.

Now glue the last side of the binding tape to the cover.

Smooth it down with a piece of plastic so it sits evenly against the cover. Close the book and run your plastic along the spine again to make sure everything sticks together.

Secure everything with rubber bands and let it dry overnight.

The rubber bands ensure that the glue dries evenly and that all parts of the binding band lie evenly on the spine and book block. Let everything dry overnight so it doesn’t fall apart again when you pick it up.

Remove rubber bands and wax paper.

Carefully open the book and flip the pages to allow the book to “get used” to the repair.


A plank (bigger than the book) and two or four bricks for weight make a very good book press, and that way everything stays in place and warps much better than using rubber bands. When repairing a book, you should always start with the worst damage and work your way up to the least bad. If you can’t get the binding back together, there’s little point in gluing back any loose pages or reinforcing corners.


Never use packing tape or duct tape to mend a book. The former will simply replace itself after about three years. The latter becomes slimy after a few years and would completely ruin your book. Tesa film is not suitable either, because the adhesive strength decreases significantly after a few years. Don’t attempt to repair a particularly rare or valuable book yourself, as you could completely ruin it or greatly reduce its value. In this case, it is better to find a professional.





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