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Complete Beginners Guide to a Book Restoration Hobby




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As far as fulfilling hobbies go, books are counted among the best. You can read, collect, or restore them. If you love books and wonder whether book restoration may be a fitting hobby, this guide will help you.

We have compiled the complete beginner’s guide to starting a book restoration hobby. Let’s get started.

What Is Book Restoration?

Book restoration is when you repair books that have been damaged or torn from use. 

You can also restore old valuable books. This includes family heirlooms like Grandma’s old prayer book or that old Bible within the family tree. Valuable books also contain some first edition manuscripts written many years ago. Some of them are rare and, therefore, they are historical memorials. 

Book restoration is not limited to antique books, though. Even paperbacks or comic books can be restored. Restoring books is simply about preserving and maintaining them in a form very similar to the original.

Some of the work of a book restorer involves cleaning, fixing degraded pages, restitching, and rebinding the book. 

restoring book

Why is Book Restoration Such a Great Hobby?

There is something distinct about reading a physical book that sets it apart from reading an online book.

It could be the connection to history and the feeling that you get from turning pages.

Whatever it is, restoring books is an amazing way to keep this feeling going.

Becoming a Part of History

Books are treasures and even more if the information between the pages contains the rich history of people or places that cannot be replaced.

Becoming a part of preserving this history is one of the incredible benefits of this hobby. For instance, family trees printed on old books’ pages contain a rich heritage that must be preserved.

Restoring books to make sure that generations will read their pages to come is a wonderful experience.

Keeping A Genre Alive

Several authors from years ago wrote exceptional works, some still great reads to this day.

By fixing books, you take part in restoring a writing genre that would have otherwise become lost.

Perfecting Patience

Because of the delicacy and the precision involved in bookbinding and restoration, it’s a great way to practice patience.

If you want to train yourself to become more accommodating, book restoration might be an excellent hobby for you.

This is particularly great because tolerance can improve your relationships at work, at home, and in social arenas.

Increasing the Value of Your Library

When you repurpose books that you buy second-hand, you take them a notch up in value.

So, in the event that you may want to sell them, they can fetch a better price.

You Can Turn it into a Business

Once you get the hang of restoring books, you can share your love with the world. You will no doubt get friends and family needing your services to restore family valuables.

You can even spread the word into the community, and you might soon find yourself with your hands full.

This might well be the start of a lucrative hobby. Nothing better than doing what you love and getting paid to do so.

Versatile Hobby

Book restoration is a hobby fit for everyone. Whatever your gender, age, or taste, there is a book that needs to be restored.

Whether you are drawn to the world of antiques or comic books, there are many restoration options for you to try. Book restoration is not all about the old. Therefore, if you’re not interested in antiques or old stuff, you can still enjoy repurposing books.

Like everything else, all books, including paperbacks, go through normal wear and tear. Sometimes this can be made worse by poor handling of books.

If you are a lover of books, when you buy an interesting read that has suffered the worst, repurposing it would be a significant first step.

Book restorer repairing damaged pages in an antique book

Book Restoration Activities

The first primary step to launching your hobby in book restoration is to know what the hobby entails.

Here are some of the activities that come with book restoration.

Book Evaluation

Before you decide how you’re going to recondition the book, you first have to make a thorough assessment of what needs to be fixed. For newer books, this can involve flipping through to see if there are any missing pages. You will also look at the cover to check if anything needs to be fixed. 

For the older books, however, it’s not as easy as flipping through. If you randomly turn over the pages, you might end up doing more harm than good. This is where the fun comes in; learning the art of examining a book without damaging its contents is nothing short of exhilarating.

Putting Missing Pages in Place

Once you figure out the missing pages, you can try to find replacements. Or you could fit in the pages if you already have them. Nothing beats the thrill of perfectly aligning a page without disturbing the rest of the manuscript. 

Cleaning Up Pages

Old books have gone through several hands over their lifetime. It would be nearly impossible to keep them clean throughout their life. As such, one of the essential restoration activities is to clean up the pages. This means removing oil smudges, ink stains, and other forms of disruption. 

If the pages are badly stained, you may not be able to clean them up thoroughly. While it’s not always possible to get all the stains out, at least you will try to make them look better.

Reconditioning Covers and Binding

Old books with leather covers can be reconditioned to bring back their shine. Sometimes you will apply a bit of dye to get it back to its original glory. Another fun part of reconditioning is learning how to touch up the dye but still let the book look old.

Redoing Book Spines

This is like giving the book a facelift because the spine is the part that we first see on the shelf. It’s an important part of the beauty of the book. A big part of book restoration is refurbishing the imprint to more or less its original form. 

Repairing Pages

Replacing parts of the book that have gone missing or have been torn out is a big part of page restoration. You can use binding agents like document tape to hold the pieces of the page together. 


When an old book is falling apart, sometimes the only way to restore it is to rebind the book. So as part of your restoration hobby, you are going to learn new techniques for binding books.

Here are various ways of rebinding a book.


With this method, you use an acid-free glue to put the book’s spine together with its covering.

Using a rod

Here you cover a rod with an adhesive and glue together the pages and the spine from inside.

Altering Books

Sometimes, the pages of an old book can be so faded it’s impossible to salvage the contents. A great way of reconditioning a book like this is to turn it into something new. You could use the book for your picture collages or art journals.

In most cases, you can do this without affecting the book’s original cover. Book altering is a fun way to create antique-looking crafts. To do this, you paste your art onto pages of the old book. You will end up with a unique piece of art.

Restoring the End Pages

End pages of the book don’t only look pretty, but they go a long way in protecting the book. For this reason, they are an important part of the revamp. Finding the right type of paper to replace end pages is one part of the restoration process.

Things to Remember When Doing Restoration Work

Not Compromising Value

When restoring the value of an antique book, it helps to remember never to depreciate its worth. Part of the value of the book is its age. For example, using modern material on an 18th-century book will significantly lower its cost.

Changing the Books Specifics

Some books will have distinct markings, usually from a specific period. When restoring these books, you should make sure not to change any of those markings. This is especially true for one-of-a-kind books. They should be kept in their original state as much as possible.

Acid Effect

Acid causes a book to deteriorate. This is why you must be very careful when handling most books. If you do it the wrong way, the paper might turn into ash right in your hands. This also means putting an acid-free binding on already affected paper won’t make a difference. Thus, it’s best to learn more about paper and acid before you select your restoration project.

book binder tools

What You Will Need for Your Book Restoration Hobby 

Document Tape

This type of tissue tape is thin and blends onto the page so much that you can’t see that the sheets have been stuck together. It is a must-have tool for a book restorers kit. It sticks pages together permanently and will not turn yellow with time.

Heat Set Tissue

This is an adhesive you will use to bind together the book and its cover or to bind torn pages. Much like document tape, it’s better than regular glue because if used correctly, you can’t see any traces of it on the paper.

Cotton Gloves

Most experts recommend wearing cotton gloves, especially when handling antique books with delicate pages. This is because your hands might have some invisible dirt, which may end up ruining your pages. Also, some of the oil leftover from your moisturizers or lotions might drop onto the pages affecting the page’s overall look.


Used for correcting stains caused by glue on pages. It works best because it won’t wet the sheets. It helps to remove all and any possible streaks that may have been left by bonding agents.

Acid-free Glue

Repurposing old books using regular glue is not recommended as it may negate all your hard work. For this reason, in every restorer’s arsenal, acid-free glue is a must-have. Acid disfigures the pages of books. While this might not be seen immediately, over time, the damage that can be done by acid is tremendous. This is why you should only use acid-free glue for restoration.

Book-Binding Thread

You will need this to strengthen your bindings.

Rubber Cement

It comes in handy for reinforcing spines for your old paperback books.


Wax hardens the book and protects it from moisture. There are many different types of book restoration wax types available. The exact one you need will depend on the restoration project you’re working on, so do a little bit of research before you buy this.

Binding Material

Whether you’re into antique restoration or giving a facelift to modern books, you will need materials to bind, including leather or special paper for binding.

How Do You Start A Book Restoration Hobby?

To get started, you will need to learn how to do it. There are a few options where you can master the art of book restoration. They include:

Online Courses

Online courses are available on many different platforms to give you the basics of book restoration. For example, has lessons on book repair and restoration. 

There are also plenty of other courses available that teach bookbinding. You can easily transfer these skills to book restoration as well.

Ask Your Librarian

Your local librarian will likely be skilled in book restoration. They may not necessarily be an expert, but they will at least have the basics to get you off to a good start.

Attend Classes

Book restoration is a very hands-on activity, so while you might learn it online, you will probably only acquire the basics. It would serve you better to learn the practical side from a coach.

You can attend one-on-one classes or small group classes where you can learn from a professional. 

There are a few places where you can learn the art. For instance, the American Academy of Book Binding and the American Library Association.

You will also have to explore your local area and determine if any places offer book restoration lessons and bookbinding. There may be some professional bookbinders who you can approach to teach you. 

You can also find some restoration clubs in your area where you get to collaborate with other like-minded people.

Book Restoration Hobby Hacks

Clean Up Your Work Area

Book pages can be very delicate and sensitive to many different reactants. That’s why you must make sure that your work area is spotless. Remove any unnecessary clutter and thoroughly clean your work surface.

Choose the Right Lighting

It’s essential to make sure that your restoration area is not exposed to direct sunlight. Hence, it’s a great idea to avoid working next to the windows. Direct sunlight can have an unwanted effect on the pages of the book. That’s why you have to steer clear of it.

Extreme Delicacy

Antique books are old and, as such, very delicate. If you don’t handle them with finesse, you could end up ultimately damaging the pages. It’s important to remember to be extremely careful and handle each page with the utmost delicacy. Remember, there’s no chance of getting it back if you ruin it.


To perfect the art of restoration, you have to work cautiously and very slowly. Rushing through the process will likely have a catastrophic result. Patience is a virtue when it comes to restoring books.

restoring old books

Where Do You Find Old Books to Restore?

Unless you have a full antique library in your home, you will probably not have many old books lying around. Luckily there are some places where you can buy these books at low prices. Go through this list to see a few potential places where one can shop for old books.

Friends and family

Not everyone will share your love for book restoration. Some people might see old books as a pile of junk. Therefore, you might be in luck if you ask whether you could get them completely free.

Thrift stores

You can buy books for a few dollars at your local thrift store. It might even be a great idea to purchase them in bulk. You’re sure to get some discounts this way.

Yard sales

Garage sales around you may also be a great place to go looking for old books.

Second-hand bookstores

Used books are usually sold at affordable prices. 


This is also another place where you can find some bargain old books.


It’s possible to find some fascinating reads here.

Library book sales 

Your local library may sell off some books once in a while. You’re bound to get some reasonably priced ones.

Where Can I Get the Tools for Book Restoration?

Some of the more basic tools are available on Amazon. You can purchase a complete kit for restoration and binding .

A professional book restoration company near you may also stock restoration tools.


Well, that’s it. Now that you know all it takes to start book restoration; you’ll no doubt be eager to begin.

Don’t let us stop you; get right on it and start enjoying your new-found hobby. You will soon be a proud and patient conserver of history.

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