Book Restoration, Repair & Appraisals

Frequently Asked Questions

There are a number of questions that we are frequently asked by those looking for someone to do a book repair or restoration. We hope that these answers are helpful to you. 

Does CBBAG give estimates of the cost of repair? CBBAG will not estimate cost but will refer to you to a list of reputable book restorers. Each restorer will need to see the book to estimate cost of repair. It is possible that they will give you a very general estimate over the phone from a description of the work required, but it is unlikely that you will be able to correctly assess or describe the condition and the repairs needed. However, it is impossible to give a firm estimate of costs without seeing the book in order to gauge the problems and the time required to restore it. No binder will give a price sight-unseen, nor will any one binder's price commit others to that estimate.

Are there bookbinders, restorers, or conservators in all localities in Canada? There are restorers/conservators only in a few localities in Canada. CBBAG refers only to the professionals whose work is known to it. A reference does not constitute a guarantee of satisfaction. You are free to ask for references concerning previous work done or to ask to see samples or photographs of the work of the binder.

Does CBBAG do appraisals of books? For an evaluation of your book you would have to go to an antiquarian book dealer, who will also need to see the book to give you an accurate estimate of its value. Antiquarian dealers are listed in the yellow pages of your telephone book and there are antiquarian dealers' associations. The chances are that your book does not have a very high cash value unless it is a special edition, an association copy, a first edition (not all by any means), has important errata, is very early (17th century or earlier), etc. However, none of these guarantee high value. There are reasons for high value which are known only to antiquarian dealers and collectors. 

Will restoring my book increase its value? If you want to repair or restore the book only to increase its cash value you are probably not wise to do this. If you care about the book because of its beauty, its sentimental value, it's family history, or if you want to be able to use it without further damage, then you are probably wise to restore it. An important book should be kept in as close to its original state as possible and may even lose value if it is rebound or restored extensively.

Does CBBAG collect family historical material? CBBAG does not collect archival material other than that which relates to CBBAG history. CBBAG has a library of bookbinding and book arts related books and DVDs available to members. Among these are "books on books" some of which are 19th century or earlier. Most city and provincial archives are very interested in acquiring (mostly by donation) historical materials relating to local history, early families in any ethnic community, business archives, military histories, and much other material. Ephemera such as advertising broadsides, theatre tickets, early printed material, menus, and much else may be of great value to them.

To find an experienced bookbinder:  

  • call the local library  
  • call the local museum  
  • look in the yellow pages under “bookbinders 

To assess the bookbinder’s skills:  
  • ask for training, credentials, and extent of experience  
  • ask to see examples of work  
  • ask for references, and do not hesitate to call the references to see if they were pleased with the work 

A list of bookbinders, conservators, and other book arts professionals can be found on A Directory of Book Artists.

How much will it cost? Costs depend on the extent of the repair needed and the time required. Often there are alternative solutions. Most repair work is highly skilled hand work and therefore expensive. For example, repair of a family Bible often costs several hundred dollars. Experienced bookbinders will be able to give an estimate. 

Interim precautions to take to protect an old book.

Do not:  

  • use adhesive tape  
  • use paper clips  
  • use rubber bands  
  • use string 

  • keep the book away from light, heat, and moisture  
  • wrap the book snugly in clean paper  
  • tie the book up with flat tape or ribbon

If you have further questions, please send them directly to the CBBAG office at
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